Security agencies in America are notoriously embroiled in computer based methods of espionage, and outright warfare on the odd occasion. Now, hot off the presses from Edward Snowden’s leaked NSA secrets comes a good round of boasting from the NSA themselves, as the agency appears to be bragging about their formidable cyber warfare abilities against all comers
According to documents reviewed by Der Spiegel, agency is preparing for full on cyber warfare. According to the paper, the agency is creating systems and protocols to cripple electronically controlled amenities such as water and power during conventional warfare. Additionally, economic systems could also be in the firing line.
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The NSA reportedly employs 40,000 employees for the purpose of spying and network based attacks, plus their current head is also in charge of US Cyber Command. It’s become clear that computer systems and the internet are still moving towards becoming a new frontier in modern warfare – the sheer size of agencies and organisations dedicated to the practice is fueling what seems like an arms race to some.
Currently we are not at war – in any official capacity at any rate. But NSA documents have also revealed that the surveillance side of their digital spying efforts is the first phase of a plan that includes covert actions against rivals which might be considered attacks, or at least, provide a stage for attacks. Plans to ‘dominate’ as said in the documents, are apparently able to “control/destroy critical systems & networks at will through pre-positioned accesses”.
In other words the surveillance may also be leaving back doors in systems in order to enter into them later. This of course brings back the old paranoia of mutually assured destruction – because, if the NSA can do it, so can anyone else. Cyber warfare can cripple a target, and can be unleashed remotely by attackers.
Although the attacks can be replicated by others, the NSA’s boasting is justified – a 2009 hacking attack on the US by China was promptly traced and monitored, plus the NSA managed to break their way back into China’s own surveillance network.
Right now, hacking is one of the main concerns for a lot of people. Governments are engaged in an ongoing situation of covert warfare, as nothing is regulated or controlled via treaty or agreement in any official capacity at the moment. Whilst the usual situation of behind the scenes espionage continues, corporate hacking is also a major concern, as we saw late last year.
The situation however, is becoming somewhat of an out of control wild west, as it were. The major concerns of those worried about this climate of cyber warfare is that the focus is being shifted from defense to one of attack. What some fear is that the attacks and attacking culture may lead to increased tensions between countries and sovereign powers.
Source: Der Spiegel