Drama. Drama is the touchstone for reporting. We need to take a good look around this stone to get a realistic impression of the virtual. We need to look around it, even to understand what CyberWar is or how it is defined.
When we talk about cyberwar, hyperbole and metaphor are the rule rather than the exception. Cyberthis, cyberthat – you may have noticed that the virtual world is inhabited by nouns and verbs from the material world, and that images of cyberthings in the news tend to have dramatic images of physical things instead of the electrons that make up the cyber world exists. Images of coins inhabit stories of purely virtual cryptocurrency, such as BitCoin. Perhaps the exception to this rule is physics magazines, where readers are actually interested in the electrons and the mathematics of cyber-realism.
But when we read stories about cyber war, we see pictures of soldiers, firearms and equipment with the story. When we read about the people sitting behind desks and computers to find out how to hack and not to be hacked, we call them CyberWarriors and photos of anti-aircraft guns and helmets with these stories. I wonder what CyberItem will be accompanied by pictures of tanks and bombers.
What is CyberWar apart from the dramatic illustrations and photos & # 39; s? In 2010, Richard Clarke, former Special Advisor to the President for Cyber Security, defined cyber warfare as "actions by a nation state to invade the computers or networks of another country with the aim of causing damage or disruption." The most important point is that a nation state must be identified as the perpetrator. If this is true, then apparently we have been involved in cyber war for years, with attacks to and from China, Russia, the US, Israel, Georgia, Ukraine, the Koreas, Syria, Iran, Estonia and more. And although countries always deny it, there are clear indicators, equivalent to the evidence, that these countries have set their digital attackers on each other's networks, computers and data. Damage to the aforementioned networks, computers and data is the result.
So there have certainly been cyber attacks on and by states. But is it CyberWar? Dr. Thomas Rid, professor of Security Studies at King & # 39; s College, says there is no Cyberwar. He tends to define cyberwar in terms of physical infrastructure disasters – scenarios in which water stops flowing, the lights go out, trains derail, banks lose our financial administration, the roads fall into chaos, lifts fail and planes fall from the sky." And he says it's not going to happen. He even has a book from 2013 with the name & # 39; Cyber War Will Not Take place & # 39 ;.
Others are not so optimistic about the subject and the possibilities. In the United States, amid falling government spending in most areas, the Cyber Command budget is rising. It has almost doubled throughout the year: $ 118 million in 2012, $ 212 million in 2013 and $ 447 million in 2014. That buys a lot of electrons, a lot of code and a lot of cyber warriors (without anti-aircraft jackets). These increases lead to comparable, if not dramatic, inflation of cyber budgets in other countries.
With all the cyber tools at hand and those being made, will someone not be tempted to use them? Is CyberWar inevitable or is there a way out? It is a question that ethicists take seriously. Great thinkers such as Patrick Lin, Fritz Alhoff and Neil C. Rowe have co-authored several articles, such as Is it possible to wage a fair cyber war? and War 2.0: Cyberweapons and ethics to explore alternatives. There are laws of (conventional) war and there must be similar guidelines for cyber conflicts. Yesterday is not too early to take a serious look at these issues.
When we try to answer the sentence that is the title of this article, this must occur everywhere on the map, because the definition of cyberwar, just like this article, appears everywhere on the map. It is actually and literally all over the world. The definition of cyberwar differs from country to country and from organization to organization. An article entitled (full metaphors flying), The Wild West or Cyberwarfare, attempts to seriously point out such divergent ideas on the subject, despite the title. The discussion is useful, but the conclusion is necessarily amorphous.
The 302-page Tallinn Manual is the result of a three-year study by experts on this subject that attempts to define such definitions. It can be read for free. But the conclusions drawn herein are not adhered to by all potential cyber conflict parties.
Now what is the best answer we can give to the state of CyberWar in the world? Cyber attacks are everywhere, worldwide. They are supported by several state actors and by stateless actors. They are borne by state actors who pass on the blame to other states and to stateless actors over whom they claim to have no control or input, but who are nevertheless politically aligned. They are executed by hacktivists, who seek political change by disabling or harming sites, networks and information. They are supported by people with a purely profit motive. And they are supported by ne & # 39; er-do-wells that just find joy in small chaos.
All such attacks are on the increase, although the vast majority continue to perform relatively unfounded acts such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS). However, there is little evidence that much of the physical infrastructure is affected. There is little evidence that people are physically harmed by such attacks. It is unknown whether such events will actually occur.
Dr. Rid says she & # 39; t have won. Drs. Lin, Alhoff and Rowe point the way to prevent such damage. Richard Clarke and former Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, say it is inevitable and we must prepare for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Albert Einstein famously said: "You cannot prevent and prepare for war at the same time." Let's hope he was incorrect in the Cyber War case.