The Fifth Domain
Since the rise of the digital age, war is no longer only waged on physical ground. “We operate in five domains: air, land, sea, outer space and cyberspace,” says Dan Kuehl, manager of information operations at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. Acts of war that take place in cyberspace are known as cyber warfare attacks.
Cyber warfare is internet-based conflict involving politically motivated attacks on information and information systems. These types of attacks can disable official websites and networks, disable services and steal or change classified data. Cyber warfare occurs between nations and most commonly targets corporations and government institutions. These attacks are inexpensive for hackers but can easily cost companies or governments millions of dollars in damage.
The three main cyber warfare methods are sabotage, electronic espionage and attacks on electrical power grids. Cyber sabotage is an act that deliberately disrupts normal processes and results in the destruction or damage of information. Electronic espionage consists of hackers stealing information from computers by infecting them with viruses. Finally, an attack on electrical power grids strikes multiple power stations and causes power outage across an entire region.
Each year as technology advances, we see a rise in the sophistication and number of cyber attacks. While there were instances of malware used for identity theft by in 2006, 2007 and 2008 by Russian mafia group Russian Business Network, many point to a 2008 incident involving the International Space Station and the Pentagon to be one of the first instances of true cyber warfare. On August 27, 2008, a worm was found infecting laptops used by the International Space Station. Then in November of the same year, a team of Russian hackers hacked into the Pentagon’s computer systems.
The first act of cyber warfare on corporate institution is considered to be the December 25, 2008 attack on India’s largest bank. Pakistani hackers attacked the State Bank of India and though no data was compromised, the bank had to shut down their website to contain the incident and restore control.
There have been countless incidents of cyber warfare in the years since these mentioned attacks. Understanding how cyber warfare developed and how it is continually changing as technology advances helps us to adequately prepare for the future
Focusing on Prevention
Learning how to protect confidential information from potential acts of cyber warfare should be a priority for every company and individual. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your business is protected:
- Security updates: Make sure all your systems security updates are run frequently. This goes for both systems considered to be critical and those considered less important. Any type of vulnerable system has the potential be used by hackers to carry out an attack. Protect yourself by updating them all.
- Change passwords: Frequently change your account passwords and if you have employees, require that they do so as well. Security professionals recommend changing passwords every six months to a year.
- Stay informed: Read up on the latest trends for hackers and protect yourself accordingly. Following blogs that post content about cyber security, like ours, is a great way to stay informed about industry trends.
If you have more suggestions for ways organizations can further protect themselves from cyber attacks, let us know by commenting below!