Headline, September 25 2021/ ''' '' THE CYBER POWER TAP '' '''

''' '' THE CYBER 

POWER TAP '' '''

OVER THERE IN THE SHADOWS. A spate of ransomware hack highlights the challenges the governments face as they try to defend themselves - and attack others - online.

Just so recently Ireland's healthcare system has been in disarray. On May 14th the Health Service Executive [ HSE ], the state-funded health-care provider, was hit by a '' ransomware '' attack which led it to shut down most of its computer systems.

The attackers threatened to release stolen data, including confidential patient records, unless the HSE stumped up $20 million [ Euro 16.5m ]. It declined to do so, Its staff were reintroduced to pen and paper, its procedures delayed, its patients inconvenienced. By June 14th services had still not returned to normal.

This out{r}age might have attracted greater attention beyond Ireland's shores had it not occurred a week after a similar attack had disabled a crucial oil pipeline on the other side of the Atlantic.

On May 7th Colonial Pipeline, a company whose namesake asset delivers nearly half the fuel used on America's east coast, had its systems compromised by a cyber-attack and had to shut down the flow of oil. Some people headed to the pumps in panic.

President Joe Biden invoked emergency powers. The company paid a ransom of over $4 million ; even so, it took several days for the oil to start flowing again.

Offensive cyber-capabilities are now widespread among states, and commonly used in military campaigns. In their war against Islamic State, Britain and America used cyber-attacks to suppress the group's propaganda, disrupt its drones and sow confusion in its ranks.

They are also used to do physical damage in times where no war is officially taking place. Consider the pioneering American-Israeli Stuxnet worm, which induced Iranian centrifuges to tear themselves apart a decade ago, or Russia's successful sabotage of Ukraine's power grid in 2015 and 2016.

Achieving dramatic physical effects is exceptionally demanding and vanishingly rare. But in some cases it may offer the perpetrator advantages.

Gary Brown, a professor at America's National Defence University who was the first legal counsel for Cyber Command, argues that states more tolerant of ''kinetic effects'' caused by online operations than those which result from armed provocations.

Retaliating against cyber-attacks in kind may become a norm - more assertive than turning the other cheek or lodging a diplomatic complaint, less risky than responding with physical violence. Such a stance may also provide a deterrent.

For the most part hostile state activity is non-violent, a matter of harvesting information helpful to your national interest - including the commercial interests of your companies - and discombobulating the opposition.

''Most activities in cyberspace have little to do with the use of force,'' writes Joshua Rovner of American University, who in 2018-19 was scholar-in-residence at the National Security Agency [NSA], America's signals-intelligence agency, and Cyber Command, a Pentagon command which conducts cyber - operations.

'' They are largely an intelligence contest - an effort to steal secrets and exploit them for relative advantage.

But the scale, speed and ease at which the contest can now play out has been transformed. Robert Hanssen, one of the KGB's most productive agents ever, supplied thousands of pages of classified material to his handlers. But he did so over a period of 20 years, from 1979 to 2001.

Vasili Mitrokhin, a disillusioned KGB archivist, pilfered an astonishing 25,000 pages of material between 1972 - 1984, hiding reams of documents under the floor of his dacha, but it took him another eight years to get those secrets to Britain's MI6.


As more states develop stronger and more active cyber-forces, the idea that the best - perhaps the only form of defence is something which looks very like an attack points to ever-more intense competition over networks.

''Perhaps defending forward is necessary to frustrate particularly brazen and brazen campaigns,'' argues Columbia University's Jason Healey and Robert Jervis. ''But in the long run it may someday spark a larger conflict.''

Because Russia and China scarcely admit to conducting cyber-operations at all, it is impossible to say how far they have trodden the same path.

And as state capabilities grow it seems a sure thing that criminal ones will too. Cyber-capabilities are easily spread and available to those of modest means.

A ranking of offensive ''cyber power'' created by the Belfer Center at Harvard University last year put Israel and Spain in third and fourth place, with Iran and Netherlands and Estonia all placed in the top ten.

Private firms like Israel's NSO Group and Italy's Hacking Team sell powerful hacking tools which allow states to quickly bootstrap their own cyber-forces. It is hard to imagine all these capabilities being kept out of the hands of criminals who inhabit the same demi-monde.

Extortionists demanding ransom, spies pocketing data and states spreading disinformation will sit alongside one another - multiplexed on the same channels as never before.

''Cyber as a domain of military and national security operations co-exists with cyber as a domain of everyday life,'' says Mr. Martin. ''It's the same domain.''

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Cyber Power and State-of-the-World, continues. The World Students Society thanks the author ''The Economist''.

With respectful dedication to the Actors, States, Cyber Forces, and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society - for every subject in the world : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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