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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Warfare by Other Means

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Warfare by Other Means Economics, demographics, cultural, technological, and other factors that have affected the course of history.

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  #16  
Old 28 Dec 14, 08:19
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I think that most of the cyber-attacks are at best conducted by criminals; mostly it's still individuals rather than any state organisation and yes, most are still domestic from within the US. Even when baring in mind Titan Rain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_Rain and the things we know about Chinese state-sanctioned hacking, the % of cyber-attacks being, as yet, used in any useful way by states for the ends of policy remains relatively minute compared to intelligence gathering, and even then...
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Old 28 Dec 14, 08:29
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I think that most of the cyber-attacks are at best conducted by criminals; mostly it's still individuals rather than any state organisation and yes, most are still domestic from within the US. Even when baring in mind Titan Rain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_Rain and the things we know about Chinese state-sanctioned hacking, the % of cyber-attacks being, as yet, used in any useful way by states for the ends of policy remains relatively minute compared to intelligence gathering, and even then...
I don't have any special insight into the scale of the problem, but as I mentioned earlier, Britains largest defence company has a dedicated cyber division and it is an area they are looking to grow quickly. There is a short video on their website. They see nations as customers so I guess it is a national scale problem.

http://www.baesystems.com/what-we-do...3D18ibab13f3_4
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Old 28 Dec 14, 08:48
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For the 'books to balance' a good portion of these attacks must be US on US.

Even so, say China is attacking the US in a cyber sense, it is hard to imagine a traditional military response, bombing Chinese servers or what have you. The response will in turn be cyber one, seeking weaknesses or exploring for information.

A new arms race has begun and one that will likely evolve very quickly, more quickly than traditional weapons systems have evolved.

The "serious" non-criminal state attacks have been so, well, laughable so far (always excepting Stuxnet, which is a cautionary example) that it does seem experimental, exploratory. The Russian attack on Estonia GCoyote refers to just took down a government Website, IIRC, and didn't do much damage. They claimed it was angry private Russians, and that is the usual claim, as it was with this Sony attack by, presumably, North Korea. It's easy to pretend and claim stoutly that it's a group of outlaw hackers, because in fact there seem to be several of these around. So confusion works well for misdirection of at least the public.

The new way of war is confusion of source of the attack. Both kinetic attacks by terrorists and these new cyberattacks are hard to source and are guarded by massive misdirection.

Does it matter very much that we don't know who our enemy is these days? I have long decided it probably doesn't: this is the cynical doctrine of "never let a crisis go to waste." If you don't know for sure who the enemy is, hit the biggest problem of the moment and blame them. Why not?
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Old 28 Dec 14, 08:57
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We expect in our international dealings, as well as our domestic legal ones, to at least have proofs of activity - especially in democracies which are averse to discomfort and loss. If that doesn't ring true; dekko the Iraq War (II) and the WMD hunt.

The Russian attack may have been private hackers carrying out their own issues to the internet, what are often labelled 'Hacktivists' - Anonymous being the most famous example. The North Korean one though, is a bit more murky I'd say, because I doubt that many private NK citizens have access to the training and equipment to wage this kind of cyber attack and therefore I suspect that it was a governmental institution. It must be also remembered that NK is a communist state that is thus inherently statist - the government has its fingers in every pie going.


Titan Rain, on the other hand, was a big, if often-not-thought-about security breech which we suspect was done by the Chinese state.
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Old 28 Dec 14, 09:34
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A bomb goes of and it is hard to keep quiet, word will likely get out about a facility that was hit.

Less so with national level cyber attacks I think. On the one hand the attacker seeks deniability and misdirection on the other the nation with breached defences does not want to shout about it.

I therefore wonder if some major has gone down and we never heard about it. Can Iranian centrifuges really be the only example?
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Old 28 Dec 14, 10:00
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Originally Posted by Selous View Post
We expect in our international dealings, as well as our domestic legal ones, to at least have proofs of activity - especially in democracies which are averse to discomfort and loss. If that doesn't ring true; dekko the Iraq War (II) and the WMD hunt.
But the Iraq War initiation is exactly where I recognized this interesting facet of warfare ---- in case of doubt, hit the biggest problem around. And if you want to hit the biggest problem around just because the time is favorable, lie about it.

Not that there was doubt really. I supported that war on the cynical bases (more fool me all the same) and many Americans (and apparently all Europeans) also realized there was no WMD, that was purest propaganda lies to gain support for the war. Saddam never harbored terrorists about to hit New York again, either. [Sigh] We weren't all fooled: some of us just wanted to mess up Muslims.

Rumsfeld had the "never let a crisis go to waste" idea before Rahm Emanuel famously enunciated it early in Obama's term. Saddam was a perennial problem, everyone in America wanted to hit Muslims, hey, let's roll. It was easy to munge it all together for most of the American people and worked well --- when in doubt, hit Bad Guy No. 1., never mind who actually dunnit.

Too bad the war didn't work. See, all this works great if they win the war. All is forgiven, even if the lies are exposed later. Nobody cares.



But cyberwar is intrinsically so full of misdirection and propaganda, they can claim it's anybody they want shutting down our televisions ---

Or more likely, nobody. If they want to play for time, to do secret stuff, to explore or hold back a really good heavy hitter for later --- all they have to do is say this wasn't North Korea (or Russia or China), it was a group of Outlaw Hacktavists!! And who can say them nay?
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  #22  
Old 28 Dec 14, 10:42
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On the contrary, here at least there were many stop-the-war protests in the streets due to a lack of WMD. The Labour Party in the UK and the Republicans in the US arguably became 'The Gulf war parties' and consequentially haven't been in government for a while. Had Gordon Brown had to run for election he wouldn't have been PM, because of the Iraq War. Democracies, as I say, don't generally like this cynical reasoning. Individuals, such as yourself, may see it as useful, and governments may see it as a useful crisis, but 'the people' generally do not.

Whilst you're right on the obfuscation that the digital environment offers we have to remember that what with big things like Wikileaks and the recent whistle-blowers, and the legions of independent hackers out there still operating, we'll also have an increased possibility of 'the truth' being revealed to us by some third party. Can a government, particularly a feckless democratic one, run the risk of not telling you a version of the truth when a million individual hackers, many in collectives like Anonymous who in theory value veracity over any political aim, are watching them carefully? In short; why not tell people the truth in your favour, rather than cover it up and be accused of some dark and sinister conspiracy to mislead the public over, say, some great disruptive attack on energy or transport systems via cyber attack.
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Old 28 Dec 14, 11:22
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On the contrary, here at least there were many stop-the-war protests in the streets due to a lack of WMD. The Labour Party in the UK and the Republicans in the US arguably became 'The Gulf war parties' and consequentially haven't been in government for a while. Had Gordon Brown had to run for election he wouldn't have been PM, because of the Iraq War. Democracies, as I say, don't generally like this cynical reasoning. Individuals, such as yourself, may see it as useful, and governments may see it as a useful crisis, but 'the people' generally do not.

Yes, the British and Europeans weren't fooled, though that "Blood for Oil" thing (I am NOT going to fish around in Word Insert for all those umlauts) the Germans got into wasn't quite right, either. And we certainly didn't get the oil, or anything else good.

The British, as ever, played it beautifully, having now paid us back for WWII with full credit and relatively little expenditure, a terrible thing to say considering the lives lost, but, I say it. I stand in awe of Tony Blair's thankless but brilliant geopolitical maneuvering: WHAT an investment for Britain's military needs of the future. Whereas the French, much as I like the French, cannot be said to have improved their already parlous situation in American opinion.

In my opinion, if people aren't cynical, they just haven't been paying attention. Cynicism is the only place the real patterns can be perceived. It's not a good idea to be na´ve or idealistic in this world, IMO, YMMV. Though I agree so many are that this must be taken into account with propaganda.


Quote:
Whilst you're right on the obfuscation that the digital environment offers we have to remember that what with big things like Wikileaks and the recent whistle-blowers, and the legions of independent hackers out there still operating, we'll also have an increased possibility of 'the truth' being revealed to us by some third party. Can a government, particularly a feckless democratic one, run the risk of not telling you a version of the truth when a million individual hackers, many in collectives like Anonymous who in theory value veracity over any political aim, are watching them carefully? In short; why not tell people the truth in your favour, rather than cover it up and be accused of some dark and sinister conspiracy to mislead the public over, say, some great disruptive attack on energy or transport systems via cyber attack.
I don't know!! This is the beginning: we can't tell how it will unfold.

But I agree and often think about the AMAZING transparency of the Internet world. There is no question in my mind but that this communications revolution is multiples of the Gutenberg effect, and that started the Reformation!

This communications great leap forward has powered several civil wars in the Mideast and in Ukraine and who knows where. There is more to come.

I like your point that lies may well be too dangerous now for Power. It IS how so many attempted cover-ups and also several propaganda attacks from special interests here have gone this year: they say the most awful lies, and then slowly over the next few weeks absolutely everything is revealed to the cold light of day.

If I mean to read those two books about Gutenberg, I'd better get on with it. That history is rapidly being OBE.


(Overtaken by events, supposed to be a military expression, I was told on post.)
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Old 28 Dec 14, 11:36
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Overtaken by events eh? I always thought it was Order of the British Empire - I suppose it's contextual....
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Old 28 Dec 14, 11:56
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Oh, dear. If I have to footnote it, I'd better just spell it out. [:-)
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Old 28 Dec 14, 13:56
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Hi Selous

Reminds me of the movie WarGames which game out in the 80's, and watching the missile tracks heading to and from the US, and eventually elsewhere.

Cyberwarfare under the guise of Industrial Espionage has been around for decades, though obviously the potential scale and remoteness of the attacker are somewhat different.

Regards

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Old 28 Dec 14, 16:51
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A bomb goes of and it is hard to keep quiet, word will likely get out about a facility that was hit.

Less so with national level cyber attacks I think. On the one hand the attacker seeks deniability and misdirection on the other the nation with breached defences does not want to shout about it.
Depends on the objectives of the attack.

Terrorism in the modern age revolves around publicity and getting credit for the perpetrators. The objective is to change some policy on the target which requires that the target be made aware of who hit them and what it is that they are being coerced to do. Publicity is important in forcing the target's hand so it is the target that has an incentive to minimize the release of information.

In contrast, cyber espionage and computerized financial crimes often benefit from secrecy and anonymity. The longer it takes for a breach to be discovered, the longer the perpetrators have to exploit whatever data they have obtained. In the case of sabotage, more damage might be done if its discovery can be delayed. If the attackers can avoid being identified they increase the chances of successfully repeating the operation. In this scenario it's the perpetrators who have incentive to keep things quiet.

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I therefore wonder if some major has gone down and we never heard about it. Can Iranian centrifuges really be the only example?
Interesting question. STUXNET was publicized by a cyber security firm. They have an obvious financial stake in doing so. Neither the Iranians nor the originators of STUXNET have any incentive to talk about it. The Iranians, who like to boast of their latest military developments, have no wish to admit they couldn't protect one of their most politically sensitive programs. The attackers wish to maintain deniability.

This puts the DPRK in a different light. They didn't want The Interview to be released but Sony is a large corporation that will not be put at risk from the failure of a single film. Publicly claiming credit for the hack might risk financial retaliation without any significant benefits to the attacker. So in this sense the attack could be seen as a failure as it did not prevent the release of the film and instead, got a huge amount of free publicity for it. Sony suffered a little embarrassment which will probably be forgotten if their next quarterly financial statements are positive. Insurance should cover their computer repair bills. The actors and producers get a career boost for no extra effort.

So what does everyone think? By the yet to be determined standards of cyber-warfare, STUXNET would seem to be a limited success and the Sony hack was generally a failure. In between we have Russia vs. Estonia which seems to have accomplished very little in terms of changes in policy by either party.
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Old 28 Dec 14, 17:08
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I'm coming to think that the Sony hack was self perpetrated. Lots of security firms say it was a inside job. The Interview was a dog of a film. (Sorry dogs, no insult intended.)

Could they have done it to poke the norks in the eye and make some money from a movie that was the worst thing that has ever been made? I'm suspicious. Remember Sony is not a American firm nor do they have any love for the norks.

Could they've done it to embroil the US and the norks in a conflict???
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Old 28 Dec 14, 18:05
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So what does everyone think? By the yet to be determined standards of cyber-warfare, STUXNET would seem to be a limited success and the Sony hack was generally a failure. In between we have Russia vs. Estonia which seems to have accomplished very little in terms of changes in policy by either party.
I think I agree with Richard Clarke that very little can be used or tested prematurely, because it's a one-shot deal: people harden their systems instantly as soon as it is attacked.

So cyber warriors won't use whatever they have before they really need it.

The question is, what would make it useful to use cyber warfare?
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Old 29 Dec 14, 02:25
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For me, hampering the release of a movie is not cyber warfare. I would define this as corporate saboutage, which I'm sure everyone will agree is a far more clearly understood term.

If hackers could take down the New York stock exchange, manipulate the price of a key commodity like oil or copper electronically, or some other means that impacts the wider economy, that would be cyber warfare. Nations rely on their economy to generate the funds to build armies and create the civil means to keep social order.

STUXNET was cyberwar because it hit important apparatus of the State and one with military potential.
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