CAMPBELL NORTH ’17
Technological advancements and society’s trend towards a continued reliance on the internet and cyberspace has recently been accompanied by a growing concern about using this medium for a new breed of modern warfare. The wars that were once waged on land with weapons and physical defenses have now been transformed into virtual encounters. And cyberspace is the new terrain where various political leaders and countries have chosen to fight. Ever since the dawn of cyberspace different leaders have attempted to manipulate this network in order to place attacks on opposing groups.
The most publicized incident of cyber warfare occurred recently with the North Korean attack on Sony pictures. This incident sparked a series of controversies and eventually led President Obama to accuse North Korea of ordering a destructive attack against America. This was the first timesthat the United States has ever explicitly charged another government with mounting a cyberattack on American targets. However, this conflict with North Korea would not be the last of its kind.
A recently disclosed National Security Agency document revealed that Iranian officials have discovered new evidence that the United States was preparing cyberattacks on their networks. It then went on to explain that Iranian retaliation in response has escalated and marked the beginning of an era of computer competition between the United States and Iran.
The document also revealed that the three waves of attacks against the United States by Iran began in August 2012. The attacks targeted the websites of of large banks, which included the likes of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. These attacks consisted of a flooding of the bank’s website with data in an effort to overload them and subsequently make it impossible for customers to access their accounts. This is just the beginning of America’s fear of the extent of cyber warfare, as officials have become increasingly alarmed by the successes of Iran’s new “cybercorps.”
Admiral Michael Rogers, the N.S.A’s new director, has taken a firm stance on the issue and declared that his first task in his new position will be to deter these cyber attacks. He hopes to deter countries like China, Iran, and Russia from waging cyberwar by making it relatively expensive to do so. Plans for how exactly he will attempt to do this have yet to be disclosed. The Obama administration has also recently grown hesitant over releasing the names of countries that they believe to responsible for such attacks in the hopes of deterring them.
While the threat of cyberwarfare is frightening, especially due to the unknown potential damage that could result, it has a history in the United States starting in the 2000s. Most notably in June 2007, the U.S. Secretary of Defense’s unclassified email account was hacked by unknown foreign intruders as part of a larger series of attacks to access and exploit the Pentagon’s networks.
The uncharted waters of engaging in cyberwarfare are certainly intimidating. However, the United States has a unique capacity for dealing with unknown situations. This capacity for resilience and resourcefulness is distinctly American and will help government officials face what unknown challenges lie ahead.