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Wars: From Weapons to Cyberattacks

Alexandra Goman

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Historically war focused on public contests which involve arms, e.g. Gentili’s concept of war. The main goal of such contests is to inflict damage to soldiers of an opposing side. Through this lens, cyberwar may be seen as a contest which perhaps involves certain arms. But it should be noted that these contests are very seldom public, mostly due to attribution problem. Even more, cyberattacks do not kill or wound soldiers; instead they aim to disrupt a property. It is, however, somewhat debatable, because such disruption of a system (like meddling with the nuclear facilities of Iran) may have an effect on both, civilians and combatants in a longer run. However, these secondary consequences are not the primary goal of a cyberattack, thus, there should be a difference between a cyberwar and a war.

The element of war being public is very important, as war is always openly declared. Additionally, an opposing side is given a chance to respond to the enemy by whatever means it deems necessary. In the context of cyberwar, this is more complicated. In case of cyberattacks, it is very difficult to determine the source and the initial attacker (more precisely, an attribution problem which is to be addressed further). Moreover, many attackers prefer to remain silent. This argument is further exacerbated by the lack of evidence. At this date the best example of cyber warfare, going somewhat public, is Stuxnet – not attributed to and officially admitted.

In the end, the attack became public but it was hidden for a year before its discovery. The specialists did notice the Iranian centrifuges malfunctioning[1] but they failed to identify the source of problems. This cyberattack was new because it did not hijack a computer or extort money; it was specifically designed to sabotage an industrial facility, uranium enrichment plant in Natanz.

However, attribution still falls behind. U.S and Israel are believed to launch Stuxnet, however they denied their involvement. Moreover, not any other country as officially admitted that. Based on the previous argument, for war to happen it has to be public. The case of Stuxnet or its similar computer programs does not therefore prove the case of cyberwar.

Moreover, if war is seen as a repeated series of contests and battles, pursued for a common cause and reason (for example, to change the behavior of the adversary), then there should be more attacks than just one. Nothing seems to preclude that one state may attempt launching a series of cyberattacks against an enemy in the future, which consequently be named a war. However, the adversary should be able to respond to the attacks.

Another view argues that the just war tradition[2] can accommodate cyberwar; however there are also some questions to take into consideration. In cyberwar, a cyber tool is just means which is used by military or the government to achieve a certain goal. This fits the just war tradition very well, because the just war tradition does not say much about means used in war. It is more focused on effects and intentions (See Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online).

The example of cyberweapons and the debate around them prove that they are discussed in the same way as any other evolving technology. If agents, effects, and intentions are identified, cyberwar should supposedly apply to the just war tradition similarly to any other types of war. However, cyber means has unique characteristics: ubiquity, uncontrollability of cyberspace and its growing importance in everyday life. These characteristics make cyberwar more dangerous, and therefore it increases the threat in relation to cyberwar.

Another useful concept of war to which cyber is being applied is the concept of war by the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz. It presents the trinity of war: violence, instrumental role, and political nature (Clausewitz, 1832). Any offensive action which is considered as an act of war has to meet all three elements.

Firstly, any war is violent where the use of force compels the opponent to do the will of the attacker (Ibid., 1). It is lethal and has casualties. Secondly, an act of war has a goal which may be achieved in the end of the war (or failed to achieve in case the attacker is defeated). The end of war, in this sense, happens when the opponent surrenders or cannot sustain any more damage. The third element represents political character. As Clausewitz puts it, “war is a mere continuation of politics by other means” (Ibid., p. 29). A state has a will that it wants to enforce on another (or other) states through the use of force.  When applying this model to cyber, there are some complications.

Cyber activities may be effective without violence and do not need to be instrumental to work. According to Rid, even if they have any political motivation, they are likely to be interested in avoiding attribution for some period of time. That is why, he highlights, cybercrime has been thriving and was more successful that acts of war (Rid, 2012, p.16).  However, in all three aspects, the use of force is essential.

In the case of war, the damage is inflicted through the use of force. It may be a bomb, dropped on the city; or a drone-strike that destroys its target. In any case, the use of force is followed by casualties: buildings destroyed, or people killed. However, in cyberspace the situation is different. The actual use of force in cyberspace is a more complicated notion.

[1] International Atomic Energy Agency (2010). IAEA statement on Iranian Enrichment Announcement. [online] Available at: https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/iaea-statement-iranian-enrichment-announcement [Accessed on 28.12.2017].

[2] Jus bellum iustum (Lat.) – sometimes referred both as “just war tradition” and “just war theory”. Just war theory explains justifications for how and why wars are fought. The historical approach is concerned with historical rules or agreements applied to different wars (e.g. Hague convention). The theory deals with the military ethics and describes the forms that a war may take.  Ethics is divided into two groups: jus ad bellum (the right to go to war) and jus in bello (right conduct of war). (See Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online). In the text Cook applies cyberwar to the just war tradition, rather than theory. In his belief, “tradition” describes something which evolves as the product of culture (In Ohlin, Govern and Finkelstein, 2015, p. 16).

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Specialist in global security and nuclear disarmament. Excited about international relations, curious about cognitive, psycho- & neuro-linguistics. A complete traveller.

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Stuxnet: a New Era in Global Security

Alexandra Goman

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Stuxnet was a malware which affected an Iranian nuclear facility (along with couple of other industrial sites across the world). It was found in 2010 but it took quite a while to actually discover it. What is particular about it is the fact that it crossed the line between cyber and physical domain, showing that it was possible to use a code to damage a critical infrastructure.  Before it, a general debate in national / global security on how a critical infrastructure can be targeted and damaged through the information system has only been theoretical.  After Stuxnet it was evident that cyberspace could be exploited and used to launch cyberattacks in order to cause physical damage. So what actually happened?

On June 17, 2010 Sergey Ulazin from a small security company in Belarus received a help-request for technical support from a customer in Iran. Arbitrary BSODs (a stop error after a system crash) and computer reboots were reported. After careful examination and a regular check for system malfunction, it was discovered that a malware infection was probably involved (The Man Who Found Stuxnet – Sergey Ulasen in the Spotlight). Having a stealthy nature and strange payload, it was later named Stuxnet, according to the file-name found in the code. A computer worm infected at least 14 industrial sites in Iran along with the uranium-enrichment plant in Natanz.

It carried genuine digital certificates (they guarantee that you can trust a file) from recognized companies, and it was well-developed and direct. The malware was able to determine the target it was looking for. In case, it was not, it did nothing and moved on to another system. This “fingerprinting of the control systems” proved that it was not just an average malicious program, but a targeted malware that meant to destroy.

Although Stuxnet relied on a physical person to install it (via USB flash drive), the worm spreads on its own between computers with Windows operating system. It affects other machines, regardless of the connection to the Internet though a local computer network. It could also infect other USB flash drives and jump into other computers through it. Moreover, it proliferates very quickly.

Once the worm infects a system, it waits, checking if necessary parameters are met. As soon as they are, it activates a sequence that causes industrial process to self-destruct. Symantec, a software company that provides cyber security software and services, conducted a thorough analysis of Stuxnet and found that Iran, Indonesia and India were the most affected countries in the early days of infection. The nuclear facility at Natanz was one of the most affected.

Furthermore, the principle is that this malware identifies a target, then records the data and finally decides what normal operations are. After this, it plays pre-recorded data on the computers of the personnel so that they think that the centrifuges are running normally, when in fact they are not. In the end, it erases itself from the system so that it cannot be traced and/or found.

The International Atomic Energy Agency inspected the Natanz facility and confirmed (International Atomic Energy Agency (2010)) that the centrifuges were malfunctioning and producing less than 20% of enriched uranium. However, at that time, the reason for that was unknown. The most detailed damage assessment came later from the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. It claimed that Stuxnet destroyed 984 centrifuges. However, Iran has not provided such a number, and the IAEA failed to give precise information on the damage.

Stuxnet crossed this line where a code infects software or digital programs, what it actually did, it affected the physical equipment. This has brought a new technological revolution. Before, viruses were used by cyber pranksters and minor rowdies to cause a system to crash on computers of innocent victims. But state-to-state attacks and a cyberwar were not discussed and were not thought of, as it was something out of science fiction scenarios. Stuxnet has changed this perception, and opened a new era in global security.

A former chief of industrial control systems cyber security research said that Stuxnet was “the first view of something … that doesn’t need outside guidance by a human – but can still take control of your infrastructure. This is the first direct example of weaponized software, highly customized and designed to find a particular target.” It is not hard to imagine that similar malicious programs can be developed in the future and used to achieve a military and/or political goal.

Many believe that the cyberattacks on Iran nuclear facility were meant to slow down Iran nuclear program. However, enrichment recovered within a year, and did not permanently damage nuclear program. Some experts also say that it had no effect on nuclear program whatsoever and the whole situation around Stuxnet was over-hyped by the media. Others are also saying that evidence on the malware has been inconclusive and Stuxnet may have, in fact, helped in speeding up Iranian nuclear program. The media reaction towards cyberattacks may have been exaggerated because of the secrecy around cyber issues but in end Stuxnet has made a good story.

As to the parties involved, the attack was not tied to a specific name and/or a country. Yet, it widely believed to be launched by U.S. and Israel. The sophistication of the program required considerable amount of resources, including extensive financial support and skilled specialists. This is why many security companies and experts agree on attributing the complex malware to one or more states. Among them is Kaspersky Lab, a multinational cyber security company, who says that the attack was launched with a specific motivation in mind. The attackers wanted to access industrial control systems which monitor and control infrastructure and processes of the facility. (Similar systems are used in power plants, communication systems, airports, and even military sites). Moreover, such an attack required significant amount of intelligence data so Kaspersky Lab is convinced that it was likely supported by a nation state.

Although the identity of the attacker is still unknown, many experts in international politics believe that the attack was clearly politically-motivated and aimed to slow down the development of Iran’s nuclear program. The United States and Israel both deny their involvement in Stuxnet, however, some leaked information (WikiLeaks, CBC interview with a former CIA director Michael Hayden etc.) suggests that the claims might have some credibility. Regardless the claims made, it is important to highlight that no country officially declared that it launched an offensive cyberattack.

All in all, Stuxnet has revolutionized the way we look at malicious digital programs and boosted a debate about cyber tools used for political purpose. After all, we are living in a highly digitalized world where we are dependent on technology. Military is no exception. Digital technologies are widely being incorporated into military planning and operations. Modern nuclear and conventional weapons systems rely and depend on information systems for launching, targeting, command and control, including technologies that govern safety and security. It is clear that future military conflicts will all include a digital aspect and cyber technologies. Stuxnet was just an early version of software that could potentially destroy an industrial site, specifically a nuclear facility. If malware actually achieved its goals, consequences would have been disastrous and could cause an international crisis.

 After all, as experts once have said, “Major concern is no longer weapons of mass destruction, but weapons of mass disruption” (Cetron and Davies, 2009).

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IoT Solution World Congress

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From 16 to 18 October, the IoT Solutions World Congress (IoTSWC) will be held in Barcelona, this event organized by Fira de Barcelona on technology in the industrial internet will be attended by more than 250 world experts who will show us real applications of IoT that are changing the different industrial environments.

Iot is a unique event dedicated exclusively to bringing together IoT suppliers and industry in order to help them increase their company’s productivity through this technology. After three editions, the event has become a world reference for the industrial sector, the 2018 edition will continue to showcase the latest industrial innovations of IoT to provide visitors with the experience and strategies of the latest vanguard needed to capitalize on IoT. It will also have more than 300 exhibitors spread throughout the event.

For this year’s edition, IoT SWC has established new thematic axes on which more than 100 events planned at its Congress will revolve: These include energy and supplies; manufacturing of goods; health care; construction and infrastructures; open industrial transport; enabling technologies; blockchain and artificial intelligence. The main focus will be on transformation in the work environment thanks to IoT programmes, as well as the digital connection of the entire value chain of a product; the impact of industrial automation on employment; the safety of autonomous vehicles; intelligent infrastructures in cities…

Among the leading companies in this sector we can find: Huawei, Google Cloud, Intel, Microsoft, Telit, Vodafone, Kaspersky, Orange, Telefonica…. all of them explaining their experience on the Internet of things.

The main novelty of this year is the blockchain Solutions World. This theme will be based on cyber-currencies as bitcoin, as well as on the days focused on cryptoeconomy and investment opportunities in businesses that already use this mechanism. It offers the different sectors a platform to manage digital assets, such as property titles, health data, financial data, etc. The BlockChain will also have a practical focus and will include case studies and monographic lectures.

On the other hand, enabling IoT brings to the device network a connection that communicates seamlessly over the Internet, transforming the way we live and work. On farms, IoT’s wireless sensors can transmit soil moisture and nutrient information to agricultural experts across the country. IoT alarm systems, equipped with batteries that last for years, provide owners with long-term protection.

Finally, one of the most important topics will be IoT Healthcare , This advance will transform the care and treatment of patients, the maintenance of healthcare equipment and the way in which it manages a hospital with the safety and innovation of healthcare solutions. The use of the IoT mechanisms in health care provides industries, personal health care and healthcare payment applications with a broad increase in several specific user cases. At the same time, we will be able to see several cases of IoT use in health care, seeing how they are gaining speed and focusing on an exponential growth of the reality of connected health care.

As a complement, the Testbeds area will be opened again, where test benches will be exhibited to see the real operation of IoT applications. The shared events provide a commercial and knowledge platform for various industrial sectors and will take place from 16 to 18 October at Fira de Barcelona.

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Technology, The 21st Century’s Way To Enhance Your Home Decor

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Have you ever thought about using electronics to decorate your home? Technology is essential in many aspects of our daily lives nowadays. So, if we have incorporated it in our everyday routine – at work, at the gym, while we use public transportation… Why shouldn’t we integrate it into the decoration of our home too? Turning your house into a smart-home fully equipped with the latest devices doesn’t have to mean setting taste and aesthetics aside. You only need to know what to look for.

Technology has become a key element in every space, and it is a safe bet to create a comfortable, versatile and full-of-style ambiance. It doesn’t only make our lives easier and funnier with its innovation, but it also brings a sophisticated design and a high aesthetic value to the rooms. It must be treated as a decorative feature, making it part of the compositions. The use of materials such as aluminum and the various locations where you can place the televisions and audio systems –walls, floors, ceilings and tables, make the mimicry of technology easier in any style of decoration.

There are plenty of electronic devices that you can integrate into your home to make it modern, prettier and more comfortable, such as these three high-end suggested by Espacio Home Design Group.

Home automation system

Colours, textures and furniture are very important to make our homes comfortable, but they are not the only things to be taken into account: sound also plays an important role. Your sense of well-being is enhanced when all these factors are combined, improving your quality of life, and you can create the perfect ambience by combining the latest audio and video technologies available on the market.

The state-of-the-art device in the the field of smart homes technology is the home automation system. Automation is a system that allows you to setup a majority of actions to be performed in your home through technology. Its intelligent programming allows you to save energy while it lets you control all devices you have installed in your home via remote management.

Sound systems and speakers

Music is capable of filling spaces, changing them and turning them into something completely different. We all have a special song, or special songs, for every occasion; many of our memories are associated with a certain soundtrack. That’s why it becomes such a fundamental element when it comes to creating an ambience for your home. So dust off that music library, because now is the time to make the most of it by integrating it into your home decor.

When enjoying the ideal sound there are various elements to consider: the devices, the format of the original music and its compression. When enjoying the ideal sound there are various elements to consider: the devices, the format of the original music and its compression. You have different options to achieve the perfect sound quality: Speakers, amplifiers, players, multiroom systems… Nowadays all the best and most exclusive design brands can provide you with the most exclusive and elegant products especially designed to match your home decoration style –no matter what this is.

Multiroom

The best and latest sound system for smart-homes is the multiroom system. Multiroom -also known as multizone sound-, is a technology that makes it easy to play music from any kind of source in all the various spaces inside your home. The sound is managed through a connection between the different audio devices, interconnected through the wifi network. It’s so easy that you can even use your mobile to choose what music you want to listen to while you enjoy a relaxing bath – without having to leave the room.

Home cinema and video systems

There are two options to enjoy the “Seventh Art” at home: either you build your own small-scale movie theater, or you install a home cinema system in your living room along with a big Smart TV screen. At Espacio Home Design Group you can find highly exclusive brands such as Bang & Olufsen, Bowers & Wilkins, Architettura Sonora, Scena and Crestron, who are specialists in this kind of smart-home technology.

Depending on the available space, you will have to place various speakers throughout the living room to get the best possible experience. However, if your house allows it and you decide you want a full movie-theater room, you will have the chance to build a unique and intimate space to relax and enjoy.

The design of home cinema an dedicated cinema system is elegant and modern, but also versatile, so you can easily integrate it within the rest of the decoration of your home. The possibilities are endless, the result will be excellent, efficient and balanced. If you like movies and are passionate about the culture of the image, you need one of them at your place.

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