Trends and advancing development of cyber warfare capabilities will continue, with attacks focused on espionage, strategic strikes to cripple specific targets [such as Stuxnet], and integrated support for traditional sea, air, and ground offensives. Paired attacks between nations currently in conflict [Pakistan and India; S. Korea and N. Korea; Israel and Iran] will continue to escalate in number and severity.
There are a number of factors which will drive the expansion of cyber warfare. Here are four:
Cyber Weapons: Keep Up or Prepare to be Vulnerable
Military powers around the world cannot afford to be left behind in a world of rapidly advancing cyber warfare capabilities. Actions by China result in increased budgets and staffing in the United States; offensive actions by Israel are met by increased actions from Iran; North Korean attacks are met by return attacks from South Korea. Few will be left out: according to U.S. intelligence officials on January 9, 2013, thirteen of the world’s fifteen largest nations are gearing up cyberwarfare programs and staffing.
Fear Drives Expenditures, Putting the Cyber Arms Race in Full Swing
Public fears of cyber strikes are enflamed by industry cyber war providers and professional associations, whose studies and press releases of dangers and ever-impending attacks around the world fuel media reports, which are spread over the Internet. The result: expansion of government cyber warfare budgets for both defensive and offensive capabilities.
Cyber Espionage to Take the Lead
Whereas cyber attack capabilities to disrupt or disable operations are difficult to develop and execute, opportunities for military and political espionage abound. China for one maintains extensive espionage capabilities and is known to continually probe U.S. commercial, military and government sites for weaknesses and gain access to classified technical specifications and military plans. Such espionage capabilities will grow rapidly in the coming three years, being the number one category of cyber warfare attacks.
Growing Capabilities of Cyber Arms Merchants
Extremist and terrorist groups with access to funding are finding expanding opportunities to procure an increasing array of cyber attack methods, tools, staffing and support, even rental server farms for attacks from a growing array of cyber arms merchants. This will not only speed the terrorist groups’ entry into the world of cyber attacks, but provide access to a continuing stream of the latest technology for increasingly sophisticated campaigns.
For more discussion, watch for our upcoming special report on the upcoming growth of cyber warfare being released in mid-February.