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CybersecurityCyberthreats, cyberattattacks will only increase over time: Experts

Published 20 October 2015

The increasing dependency of a growing number of organizations on the Internet has served to increase the number of targets for hackers, particularly those organizations that have not given adequate attention to securing their network as they should. Even those networks not connected to the Internet are not immune from penetration by hackers. This is a threat that shows no sign of ever slowing down. More likely it will only increase over time, as cyber-capabilities are developed by more and more entities.

While the cold war never escalated to a clash of arms between the major world powers, throughout Asia there were several border disputes and other regional small conflicts, and proxy wars fought between the West and the Soviet Union. India and Pakistan engaged in several armed border disputes, and China engaged both India and the Soviet Union in similar small conflicts.

Today, warfare takes place in cyberspace. The increasing dependency of a growing number of organizations on the Internet has served to increase the number of targets for hackers, particularly those organizations that have not given adequate attention to securing their network as they should.

Even those networks not connected to the Internet are not immune from penetration by hackers. Witness the disabling of the Iranian nuclear program by introducing the Stuxnet and Duqu malware. All that was needed was for an infected medium, unknowingly or intentionally, to be introduced into the network. The malware could then spread throughout the network. The result was that the Iranian scientists were forced to suspend operations in order to disinfect the system.

Last year, a hacking war erupted between India and Pakistan, with groups on each side defacing Web sites belonging to organizations in their enemy nation. Though brief, the targets in that digital war included the Web sites of the Press Club of India (PCI) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Fortune quotes Martin Libicki, senior management scientist with the RAND Corp., to say that “We’re seeing this as a common form of attack. “This is a relatively easy attack to carry off, and the cost in terms of damage isn’t very large.”

As it continues to develop, however, cyber warfare has the potential to cause a great deal more than mischief and nuisance.

The United States and China have been engaged in a cyber war since the early 2000s. Largely unknown to the public, this war began seemingly innocuously, with attacks on government Web sites, and the defacing of their pages.

China and North Korea together have increased the intensity of the attacks such that they are both able to do far more damage than the equivalent of pranks. Both they and others have the ability to create such offensive positions.

Chinese hackers slowly developed their skills to the extent that they were determined as culpable in several high-level penetrations and breaches, both government and private sector. Since the Internet functions using the Internet Protocol (IP,) and that IP provides 65,535 ports, or access points, multiplied by the number of computers on a network, hackers have a seemingly endless number of doors into a target.

But it is not only large countries that have the capability to engineer such attacks. Small, less-developed countries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can still implement effective strategies.

Fortune notes that the cost of building a technology-based system is far lower than developing an advanced system or hardware. The benefits of creating such technology are two-fold.

First, the favorable cost-benefit ratio of an increased attack ability of tech systems, putting them on a par with more developed nations. Second, in the event that newer and more powerful weapons systems are required, they are spared the expense of developing them on their own. After all, why spend money on developing such weapons, when you can steal them?

This is a threat that shows no sign of ever slowing down. More likely it will only increase over time, as cyber-capabilities are developed by more and more entities.