Advertisement

Cyber terrorists learn how to take advantage of cyberspace

By JAMES CARAFANO and ERIC SAYERS, UPI Outside View Commentators

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. government and armed forces need to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes required for cyber-strategic leaders. And that next generation of leaders needs to understand the cyber environment.

Beginning in 1988 with the infamous "Morris Worm" attack, cybersecurity has grown in importance along with the degree of reliability the United States and other nations have placed on the cyber domain.

Advertisement

The effectiveness of cyber warfare stems from its dynamic characteristics. In addition to low costs to entry, making it more attractive to terrorists and other non-state actors inclined to pursue low-end asymmetric strategies, the historical boundaries of warfare do not apply to the cyber realm.

Although decentralized, cyberspace remains dependent on the physical network of computer servers, fiber-optic cables and the immense system of cables that have been laid across the world's oceans. A familiarity with the physical aspects of cyberspace forms the foundation of a larger education on the topic.

The complexities of cyberspace begin with the distinction between its two existing theaters. First, the commercial Internet. Reserved for the day-to-day activities of the public and traditionally the target of non-state actors, the vulnerability of this theater has been magnified in the wake of the Estonia and Georgia cyberattacks that occurred in April and May 2007 and August 2008, respectively. Second, the military network.

Advertisement

Over the past two decades, as the military has attempted to enhance its war-fighting capabilities through network-centric warfare, an increased reliability on information technology has had the cumulative effect of ensuring a growing liability should the network fall under attack. Rebecca Grant has documented this development in her study "Victory in Cyberspace," published by the Air Force Association, October 2007, at http://www.afa.org/media/reports/victorycyberspace.pdf.

There are various types of actors who may pose a threat to the commercial and military cyber networks. First are the individuals acting on their own to exploit security gaps or commit cyber crimes, such as identify theft. These hackers are commonly referred to as "Black Hats."

Second, cyber terrorists attempt to manipulate the cyber environment to advance political or social objectives, as documented by James Jay Carafano and Richard Weitz in their paper "Combating Enemies Online: State-Sponsored and Terrorist Use of the Internet," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2105, Feb. 8, 2008, pp. 3-4, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/nationalSecurity/bg2105.cfm.

--

(Part 5: How Islamist hackers take advantage of the Internet to wage asymmetrical warfare against the West)

--

(James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is assistant director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and senior research fellow for national security and homeland security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Davis Institute, at the Heritage Foundation. Eric Sayers is a research assistant in the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation.)

Advertisement

--

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement