The Coming Cyber-Cold War: US Pioneering Online Attacks

The Coming Cyber-Cold War: US Pioneering Online Attacks

The US government is openly and actively engaged in a reincarnation of the Cold War. Physical assets such as spies and informants have been replaced with zero-day software exploits and network security analysts. Old-school intelligence gathering, while effective to some degree, pales in comparison with the scope of big-data firms such as Endgame and Palantir. Instead of war-ravaged proximity states in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, we have shadowy "actors in cyberspace" and network backdoors on the Internet. The development and expansion of cyber-security, and hence cyber-warfare - equivalent to an arms race - has been in the works for decades and is now a prime objective for the executive branch and the Department of Defense. As the US prepares to deploy weaponized malware and viruses against its enemies, it is forcing those enemies to respond in kind. We are witnessing the first stage of an America-led arms race that undoubtedly will result in a cyber cold war.

Before Edward Snowden released details about foreign and domestic spying program PRISM, low-level and continuous cyber espionage was well underway. As far back as 2002, a three-year attack accessed and downloaded 10 to 20 terabytes of sensitive information from the Department of Defense in an operation titled "Titan Rain." The culprit - whether an individual or a state - was never identified. In 2009, there were cyber attacks on the US water and sewage systems, as well as the national electrical grid. China and Russia are alleged to have accessed secure systems and mapped out the entire infrastructure of the country. More recently, the Obama administration was forced to admit that it had deployed Stuxnet against Iranian nuclear centrifuges and that the NSA attacked Tsinghua University, a research facility in China.

"Cyber warfare attacks" are the new terrorism, with risk to economic and national security elevated to Orwellian heights found post-9/11. At least that's what US military commanders want the public to believe.

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