In a world of cyber threats, the push for cyber peace is growing

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
September 3, 2019

Digital conflict and military action are increasingly intertwined, and civilian targets – private businesses and everyday internet users alike – are vulnerable in the digital crossfire. But there are forces at work trying to promote peace online.

It will be a tough challenge: In May 2019, Israel responded to unspecified cyberattacks by Hamas with an immediate airstrike that destroyed the Gaza Strip building where the hackers were located.

The U.S. had done something similar in 2015, launching a drone strike to kill an alleged Islamic State hacker, but that operation was months in the making. In July 2019, the U.S. also reversed the equation, digitally disabling Iranian missile-launching computers in response to Iran shooting down a U.S. military drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. businesses fear they might be the targets of retaliation for that attack from Iran. Even local nonprofits need to learn how to protect themselves from online threats, potentially including national governments and terrorists. In some ways cyberspace has rarely seemed more unstable, even hostile.

At the same time, dozens of countries and hundreds of firms and nonprofits are fed up with all this digital violence, and are working toward greater cybersecurity for all – and even what might be called cyber peace.

Serious hacking is getting easier

Data and security breaches like the one carried out by the Shadow Brokers, revealed in 2016, released extremely advanced hacking tools to the public, including ones created by the National Security Agency. Cybercriminals are using those programs, among others, to hijack computer systems and data storage in governments across the country.

Some companies have been forced to revert to one-to-one instant-messaging and passing written memos in the wake of ransomware attacks and other cybercrimes.

The U.S. government is taking note. Instead of pushing the technological envelope, it has elected to use tried and true analog technologies to help secure the electricity grid, for example.

Read the full piece at The Conversation.