December, the supposed holiday time for most of the world, was filled with substantial coverage of the world’s raging cyber war. Newsweek Magazine carried a special edition on The Art of (Cyber) War. It noted that a federal government database had been hacked so that the highly personal information for 21 million government employees information was published. It also notes that “by 2018” we can expect that the U.S. Department of Defense will deploy a new cyber defense program that will include a “task force” to protect America. Here is some more information. The Identity Theft Resource Center reported 641 data breaches in 2015. It also reported that “more than 175 million [U.S. citizens] people had their information exposed in data breaches in 2015”.
Companies such as Sift Science were reporting rapid growth: “Every day, businesses worldwide rely on Sift Science to eliminate fraud, slash costs, and grow revenue. Our cloud-based machine learning is powered by 5,000+ unique fraud signals and a network of 1,500+ websites (and growing).” Sift uses “large scale machine learning technology” to analyze data and connect “thousands of seemingly unconnected clues left behind by fraudsters.” Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to catch Internet fraud. Machine intelligence (The Helix(TM) Security Engine) also is being used by Lookout, a security firm that focuses on the mobile phone market.
Not only the United States is concerned. Salìh Biçakcī from Kadir Has University in Turkey reports that cyber attacks against Turkey are increasing, and that “the state is not prepared for approaching cyber wars”. Turkey has been under a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack for most of December. Biçakcī argues that Turkey’s government is not set up for the type of coordination needed to withstand a determined cyber attack. Many other governments must be having the same thoughts. Biçakcī has authored such documents as The Rebirth of NATO between New War and Cyber Security and The role of information technology in responding to Terrorism. Because of ties between Turkey and ISIS, Anonymous attacked Turkey’s banking sector, according to TechWorm. Anonymous warned “Dear government of Turkey, if you don’t stop supporting ISIS, we will continue attacking your Internet, your root DNS, your banks and take your government sites down“. Anonymous “took 400,000 [Turkish] sites offline for 7 days“.
In India, Tarun Vijay a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been demanding that India set up a separate ministry for cyber security. As reported in the Indian Express, “[I]n the last five months 50,000 cyber attacks have been reported and nearly half of India’s internet population was being hit by cyber attackers”.
The above summarizes only a few events in December. As stated earlier, cyber war and cyber weapons are multiplying. They are one of the most important tools of today’s warfare. A set of Cyber Arms limitation talks are surely needed.