International Agreement for Control of Cyber Weapons

Tag: Anonymous

December 2015 Cyber War Coverage

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“.

Anonymous has published a chronology of events in its war against ISIS.  It calls the action “OpISIS”.

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.

Anonymous vs. Daesh

The reverberations of the Daesh attack on teenagers in Paris continue.  Daesh has released videos showing how it is training children to murder non-muslims.  It has threatened to attack the Vatican, and the White House.  At the same time, the cyber war continues.

The original fight between Daesh and Anonymous started when Daesh hijacked a single Anonymous Twitter feed.  After that, Anonymous has continued a regular series of attacks against Daesh, regularly releasing names, id’s, passwords, associated IP addresses and other information on thousands of Daesh internet accounts.  Anonymous released a series of videos in French promising to take further actions against Daesh, and soon.

On November 19th, 2015, Anonymous announced that it had taken down 5,500 Daesh accounts in response to being called “idiots”. This is called #OpParis.  “The Anonymous vs ISIS showdown is only the beginning, with Anonymous vowing to wipe the Internet stage of all ISIS activity, rendering ISIS impotent of their recruiting network online.”

At the same time, Daesh is sending out as many as 96,000 recruitment emails per day, all aimed at getting sympathizers in the West.

This conflict is an example of how cyber war will develop.  There are a number of basic functions in a cyber conflict:

  • Breaking and exposure of the security of enemy Internet accounts;
  • Use of the subculture of hackers instead of the type of organized response found in a military;
  • Sabotage of web servers, and attempts to interfere with Internet facilities of all types of the enemy;
  • Lack of transparency in what is happening, or even what has happened.

It is unlikely that a cyber arms control treaty will be able to identify all of the specific violations or attacks that may take place.  Any attempt to write out a treaty with complete rationalist comprehensiveness is futile.  Instead, the world will need to stick to generalist principles.