Cyberwarfare refers to politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. It is a form of information warfare sometimes seen as analogous to conventional warfare although this analogy is controversial for both its accuracy and its political motivation.
U.S. government security expert Richard A. Clarke, in his book Cyber War (May 2010), defines “cyberwarfare” as “actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation’s computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption.” The Economist describes cyberspace as “the fifth domain of warfare,” and William J. Lynn, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, states that “as a doctrinal matter, the Pentagon has formally recognized cyberspace as a new domain in warfare . . . [which] has become just as critical to military operations as land, sea, air, and space.”
In 2009, President Barack Obama declared America’s digital infrastructure to be a “strategic national asset,” and in May 2010 the Pentagon set up its new U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), headed by General Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), to defend American military networks and attack other countries’ systems. The EU has set up ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency) which is headed by Prof. Udo Helmbrecht and there are now further plans to significantly expand ENISA’s capabilities. The United Kingdom has also set up a cyber-security and “operations centre” based in Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of the NSA. In the U.S. however, Cyber Command is only set up to protect the military, whereas the government and corporate infrastructures are primarily the responsibility respectively of the Department of Homeland Security and private companies.
In February 2010, top American lawmakers warned that the “threat of a crippling attack on telecommunications and computer networks was sharply on the rise.” According to The Lipman Report, numerous key sectors of the U.S. economy along with that of other nations, are currently at risk, including cyber threats to public and private facilities, banking and finance, transportation, manufacturing, medical, education and government, all of which are now dependent on computers for daily operations. In 2009, President Obama stated that “cyber intruders have probed our electrical grids.”
The Economist writes that China has plans of “winning informationised wars by the mid-21st century“. They note that other countries are likewise organizing for cyberwar, among them Russia, Israel and North Korea. Iran boasts of having the world’s second-largest cyber-army. James Gosler, a government cybersecurity specialist, worries that the U.S. has a severe shortage of computer security specialists, estimating that there are only about 1,000 qualified people in the country today, but needs a force of 20,000 to 30,000 skilled experts. At the July 2010 Black Hat computer security conference, Michael Hayden, former deputy director of national intelligence, challenged thousands of attendees to help devise ways to “reshape the Internet’s security architecture“, explaining, “You guys made the cyberworld look like the north German plain.”