By Ishika Gupta:
Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) are the four pillars of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that are enabling and enhancing efficiency and productivity of individuals, governments and businesses. Similarly, ICT for development (ICT4D) is an effort to bridge the digital divide and aid development by fostering equitable access to modern technologies for community development, poverty alleviation, agriculture, healthcare, basic education and livelihood, primarily for the rural citizens.
Like any other technology, ICT can be used for the benefit of mankind, industry, government and society. However, any inappropriate application or misuse of such technology can have counterproductive and devastating effects on the same beneficiaries. Misuse of ICT is now being considered as the most powerful weapon available to mankind, capable of conducting a real as well as a virtual next new war.
When scientists were inventing nuclear science or technology several years back, they never thought that an atom bomb could be built that could kill millions. The web has turned 25 this year in 2014 and Tim Berners-Lee, who invented it, would not have imagined the cyber wars of today.
With gaining popularity and use of ICT and its applications, cyber criminals, fraudsters, perpetrators and cyber terrorists are exploiting the security vulnerabilities and breaches within these systems and applications to steal identities, sensitive data, state secrets, money and harm critical infrastructure of any nation.
A discreet group of professional, malevolent code writers and specialist web hosts have started using ICT as a means to commit conventional crimes in an unconventional way by developing and launching malwares and scripts like Botnet, Fast Flux, Zombie Computer and techniques such as social engineering to attack and harm citizens, enterprises and governments.
Cyber warfare is the next new war where state sponsored actors conduct attacks on a target’s strategic or tactical resources for the purposes of espionage or sabotage.
Some of the prominent examples of cyber attacks include the ones on Estonian organizations, including Estonian parliament, banks, ministries, newspapers and broadcasters that began on 27th April 2007, and was considered to be the first Cyber war.
Indian and Pakistani hackers have in the past launched Distributed Denial Of Service attacks as part of the long-standing tensions between two countries similar to Israeli and Palestinian hackers launching cyber attacks, defacing each other’s web assets.
Researchers have discovered a group of highly sophisticated hackers named “Hidden Lynx” operating out of China, who are available for hire for cyber espionage, and are said to be targeting several private firms in the USA. According to security experts, Cyber warfare is a greater threat to United States than terrorism. Intelligence and defence officials warn of ‘Cyber Pearl Harbor‘.
It is no longer a cold war between Russia and the United states. Russia allegedly hacked into the White House. It was probably a form of retaliation for Sanctions placed upon it by the President for Russia’s invasion of Crimea. Iran has blueprints of the US President’s helicopter. The Chinese stole the classified jet designs of one of Pentagon’s best kept secrets in “Joint Strike Fighter”.
At the recently held G-20 summit, the hosts Australia were bracing for cyber attacks.
Cyber attacks and warfare by rogue nations and actors can cause havoc and devastate nations and societies. Before this takes the form of the third world war, there is a need for nations to expand cyberspace cooperation, establish global watch and warning systems, and share cyber threat intelligence to confront potential threats, combat cyber attacks and increase collective security.
To work towards establishing peace, ICT and SMAC can be used for cyber peace building and cyber peace keeping operations by the UN and similar global agencies to avoid conflicts, prevent cyber warfare, and assist nations affected by cyber attacks through a peacekeeping force.