Although the nuclear arms race is a long-standing one, and is conveniently brought out when it is deemed suitable to terrorize the public with the threat of total annihilation, the modern-day arms race has more to do with the pursuit of high-tech applications of surveillance, stealth sabotage and plausible deniability.
Whereas conventional history tells us that the U.S. had to race to catch up to the Russians’ nuclear weapons stockpiles, heavy investment into drone surveillance and warfare has clearly been led by the U.S. and has spurred 50 other countries to pursue their own programs in order to keep pace.
The U.S. has similarly been making bold announcements about the intent to develop and deploy an offensive cyber army under the auspices of USCYBERCOM. Such a declaration would appear to indicate that the physical shadow wars of old are rapidly getting a 21st-century virtual upgrade.
Even though it had been strongly assumed that The United States and Israel were behind mega-malware like Stuxnet and the more recent Flame attacks on Middle East, mainstream coverage by the New York Times that Obama has been authorizing cyberattacks on Iran as a deliberate extension of the Bush Doctrine of preemption was essentially a warning that the U.S. is not merely asserting its right to use cyberspace as a weapon to control and attack industrial infrastructure, but that those initiatives have gone fully operational.
TechWorld is reporting that Germany has also chosen to open up to its plans for an offensive cyberwarfare unit. Parliament has been notified:
According to German reports, the Bonn-based Computer Network Operations (CNO) unit had existed since 2006 but was only now being readied for deployment under the control of the country’s military.
‘The initial capacity to operate in hostile networks has been achieved,’ a German press agency reported the brief document as saying. The unit had already conducted closed lab simulations of cyber-attacks. (Source)
Perhaps what is most telling is that this initiative has been in place since 2006, roughly the same time frame as the suspected development of the U.S. and Israeli move toward offensive cyberwarfare units and the creation of plans to attack “rogue” regimes with viruses like Stuxnet. Computer experts have concluded that malware at this level of complexity, first discovered in 2009, would have taken a minimum of 6 months (if not years) to conceive, develop and deploy.
2006, in fact, is largely recognized as the year that hearalded the arrival of offensive cyberwarfare:
In the 2006 war against Hezbollah, Israel alleges that cyber-warfare was part of the conflict, where the Israel Defense Force (IDF) intelligence estimates several countries in the Middle East used Russian hackers and scientists to operate on their behalf. As a result, Israel attached growing importance to cyber-tactics, and became, along with the U.S., France and a couple of other nations, involved in cyber-war planning. Many international high-tech companies are now locating research and development operations in Israel, where local hires are often veterans of the IDF’s elite computer units. Richard A. Clarke adds that “our Israeli friends have learned a thing or two from the programs we have been working on for more than two decades. (Source)
Operation Shady RAT shook the world in mid-2006 as an illustration of the difficulty in exclusively attributing attacks to state operators, White- and Black-Hat hacking groups, and/or industrial espionage of all stripes. Seventy public and private organizations in 14 countries were targeted “in almost every category imaginable.” One cybesecurity expert concluded that the operation had to have been solely conceived by China, namely because Taiwan was among the vast group targeted … and China was not. (Source)
Since then, Russia has been implicated in broad spectrum attacks in Estonia (2007), Georgia (2008), The United States (Pentagon, 2008), Kyrgyzstan (2009), and other unsubstantiated U.S. claims that they have worked with China (2011), and even attempted to penetrate an Illinois water treatment facility (2011).
Israel softened up Syria prior to airstrikes by disabling radar systems via electronic attack (2007).
The UK was implicated in cyberattacks against South Korea and The United States, but s Miami and Latin American connection was also exposed (2009).
India attacked 36% of Pakistan’s government websites (2010).
Pakistan attacked India as revenge (2010).
India’s spy agency has been accused of hacking the U.S. Government (2012).
There is obviously a brewing cyberwar that has taken on global shape, and naturally involves the global communications system that most of our modern society has become reliant upon.
Germany’s announcement that they have entered the cyber realm with all guns blazing is an interesting development in the rapidly changing landscape of 21st-century warfare where the doctrine of preemptive war is no longer seen as illegal or immoral, but rather an anticipatory measure of self-defense under the assumption of continuous impending attack by terrorists — both lone and organized.
One would have to be very naive to think that even the above timeline of notable cyberattacks is the absolute truth of how long cyberwarfare and cybersecurity plans have been in the works, since the Internet itself was spawned by the U.S. Department of Defense. However, it can be assumed that the latest barrage of cyberwarfare announcements made in tandem with a barrage of cybersecurity legislation, at least serves to put the public on notice that big changes are coming to the Internet.
As with all warfare, there is bound to be collateral damage among the citizenry occupying the lands where war is engaged. History is filled with accounts of false flag terror used to usher in sweeping societal changes that would not have otherwise been accepted. As the militaries of the world turn their focus toward engaging a 21st-centry virtual battlefield under near-constant bombardment, we can only guess at the society that is being planned to keep us all safe following the next big event.
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