Military and the Internet of Things (IOT)
elrickmark
15

I am glad you brought the concept of cyber warfare up, and as you can see from your references and discussion points, this is not a topic that any nation or organisation would openly discuss or disclose. This however is not unique if you are to consider it within the context of conventional weaponry, examples being the development and operation of the United States B-2 Stealth Bomber, or Nazi 262 jet fighters. These technologies, as well as cyber weapons are all tools for commanders and nations to out manoeuvre and apply the nine principles of war (9PoW) upon the opponents, while protecting capabilities ensures the competitive edge. I will not dwell too much on the application of the 9PoW and the relevance of cyber warfare as this is a huge topic for further discussion, however I would like to highlight some case studies on two separate applications of cyber warfare (political and conventional).

Estonia was one of the leading countries in e-readiness and development according to the 2007 white paper from the Economic Intelligence Unit, ranking 23rd in 2007. Given the strained geopolitical relationship and history with its former USSR protectorate, a decision to relocate a Soviet Monument depicting acts of World War Two set the scene for a very public display of cyber warfare, discussed in the DCAF working paper on cyber warfare. Although there was no official acknowledgment of the attack, Estonian Government networks, websites, commerce and banking were essentially overwhelmed — costing the country and associated economic partners financially and politically. This is an example of a potential infrastructure and political attack on a nation as per the 9Pow, although not presenting the follow on actions associated with conventional warfare.

On the other hand, Operation Orchard was a clear application of cyber warfare as a precursor and enabler of conventional military action (although due to the political nature, nations involved have added to the murkiness and lack of a full understanding of the event). Similar to the geopolitical environment depicted in the question, military forces targeted a threat pertaining to nuclear development and utilised cyber warfare to attack/eliminate military infrastructure. A cyber attack on Syrian Air Defence and radar, allegedly similar to that of the United States Suter Airborne Network Attack System, allowed Israeli F-15 and F-16 fighters to strike unopposed into Syrian territory.

So to answer your question, yes — cyber warfare is no doubt alive and well, and with the growing reliance on ICT both in a civilian and military sector, I would expect a growing military investment in this field. Like all ICT, cyber warfare and weapons are enablers, allowing military forces to project surprise and effective economy of force upon the enemy. Application in future conflicts could arguably be unavoidable, with the globalisation of commerce and ICT, striking the heart of enemy infrastructure may no longer require conventional weaponry or even loss of life. If a nation is unable to wage war due to financial and logistical disability through cyber attacks, military objectives could therefore be observed with no ‘boots on the ground’?

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