Much of the news related to cyber warfare tends to be a bit "sensational". For example:
- Russia accused of unleashing cyber war to disable Estonia
- Estonia hit by "Moscow cyber war"
- Cyber war: Russia vs. Estonia
All this sounds very dramatic and serious, but let’s look at the details. On April 27, officials in Estonia relocated the "Bronze Soldier," a Soviet-era war memorial commemorating an unknown Russian who died fighting the Nazis. This led to political furor among ethnic Russians and to the blockading of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow.
The event also marked the beginning of a large and sustained distributed denial-of-service attack on several Estonian national Web sites, including those of government ministries and the prime minister’s Reform Party. There were no attacks against any critical infrastructure or services. This was simply a political statement.
At the most, I’d refer to this eventas hacktivism, and most likely launched by a group of hackers that have no affiliation with any government agency. It seems there was no cyber war after all. But wait, that’s not all:
- America prepares for "cyber war" with China
Is Cyber war really that imminent? Are we about to fall under an attack of bits and bytes? A report in the UK branch of ZDNet proclaimed Cyber warfare "a reality in 12 months."
Unfortunately, that report was back in January 2004. The article is a good source of information about the types of vulnerable systems that may be attacked, but their predicted timeline is way off.
- Cyber Warfare—An analysis of the means and motivations of selected nation states
For a more measured appraisal, I recommend this report, which was written in response to a grant provided by the Department of Homeland Security.
This report is an assessment of potential foreign computer threats to information technology networks in the United States. This is one of the most level-headed write-ups I’ve seen to-date.