A digital cold war is primed to erupt across cyberspace, and the country needs to be prepared for eventual attacks on essential systems.
In the past few years, the US military has seen attacks that could possibly jam GPS signals electronically, and disrupt the use of the military’s drone networks, even up to the point of taking control of the network. It is speculated that Iran used a technique to confuse a surveillance drone as far back as 2011, and one would expect the capabilities are far more advanced at this time.
The DoD document outlined three important cyber missions for the agency. The department must defend its own networks and systems, it must be prepared to defend the US and its interests against any and all cyberattacks, and they must be able to provide integrated cyber capabilities to support military operations and contingency plans in response to an attack.
These three items are essential for the US to continue to function, as today’s world is inseparably linked by the internet and cyberspace, and we must be prepared to handle the eventual attacks. For example, just this past July, a denial of service attack shut down at least 68 government websites in the Philippines, and only a few days later, major airports and airlines in Vietnam were attacked and shut down by apparent Chinese hackers.
Recent disruptions of airline service at Delta and Southwest are reminders of how dependent we are on those services, as a shut-down for a few hours caused chaos for several days, while delayed and cancelled flights mounted.
Can you imagine what would happen if our military was unable to function due to loss of communication between our systems and controls? What if that also happened to police, fire and ambulance services? But even more frightening is how a foreign government could invade and disrupt our financial systems, perhaps hampering our economy.
The old cold war days of military build-ups and threats of use of force and nuclear aggression may not be as concerning to us as they were in days passed, but a new threat is ever-present in today’s cyber environment.
The next cold war could be waged on a digital front instead.