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Military and intelligence leaders agree that the next major war is not likely to be fought on the battleground but in cyber space. Richard Stiennon argues the era of cyber warfare has already begun. Recent cyber attacks on United States government departments and the Pentagon corroborate this claim. China has compromised email servers at the German Chancellery, Whitehall, and the Pentagon. In August 2008, Russia launched a cyber attack against Georgia that was commensurate with their invasion of South Ossetia. This was the first time that modern cyber attacks were used in conjunction with a physical attack.
Every day, thousands of attempts are made to hack into America's critical infrastructure. These attacks, if successful, could have devastating consequences. In Surviving Cyberwar, Stiennon introduces cyberwar, outlines an effective defense against cyber threats, and explains how to prepare for future attacks.
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In a world of increasing dependence on information technology, the prevention of cyberattacks on a nation's important computer and communications systems and networks is a problem that looms large. Given the demonstrated limitations of passive cybersecurity defense measures, it is natural to consider the possibility that deterrence might play a useful role in preventing cyberattacks against the United States and its vital interests. At the request of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Research Council undertook a two-phase project aimed to foster a broad, multidisciplinary examination of strategies for deterring cyberattacks on the United States and of the possible utility of these strategies for the U.S. government.
The first phase produced a letter report providing basic information needed to understand the nature of the problem and to articulate important questions that can drive research regarding ways of more effectively preventing, discouraging, and inhibiting hostile activity against important U.S. information systems and networks.
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The cyber domain is undergoing extraordinary changes that present both exceptional opportunities to and major challenges for users of cyberspace. The challenges arise from the malevolent actors who use cyberspace and the many security vulnerabilities that plague this sphere. Exploiting opportunities and overcoming challenges will require a balanced body of knowledge on the cyber domain. Cyberpower and National Security assembles a group of experts and discusses pertinent issues in five areas.
The first section provides a broad foundation and overview of the subject by identifying key policy issues, establishing a common vocabulary, and proposing an initial version of a theory of cyberpower. The second section identifies and explores possible changes in cyberspace over the next fifteen years by assessing cyber infrastructure and security challenges. The third section analyzes the potential impact of changes in cyberspace on the military and informational levers of power. The fourth section addresses the extent to which changes in cyberspace serve to empower key entities such as transnational criminals, terrorists, and nation-states. The final section examines key institutional factors, which include issues concerning governance, legal dimensions, critical infrastructure protection, and organization.
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Dependence on computers has had a transformative effect on human society. Cybernetics is now woven into the core functions of virtually every basic institution, including our oldest ones. War is one such institution, and the digital revolution's impact on it has been profound. The American military, which has no peer, is almost completely reliant on high-tech computer systems. Given the Internet's potential for full-spectrum surveillance and information disruption, the marshaling of computer networks represents the next stage of cyberwar. Indeed, it is upon us already. The recent Stuxnet episode, in which Israel fed a malignant computer virus into Iran's nuclear facilities, is one such example. Penetration into US government computer systems by Chinese hackers-presumably sponsored by the Chinese government-is another. Together, they point to a new era in the evolution of human conflict.
In Cybersecurity: What Everyone Needs to Know, noted experts Peter W. Singer and Allan Friedman lay out how the revolution in military cybernetics occurred and explain where it is headed. They begin with an explanation of what cyberspace is before moving on to discussions of how it can be exploited and why it is so hard to defend. Throughout, they discuss the latest developments in military and security technology. Singer and Friedman close with a discussion of how people and governments can protect themselves. In sum, Cybersecurity is the definitive account on the subject for the educated layman who wants to know more about the nature of war, conflict, and security in the twenty first century.