Cyberwar, Cyberattacks and -conflicts of course are hyped. I would not exclude me from that hype but what a lot of people who ‘hype’ it tend to forget is that the targets of cyber warfare are quiet limited. In order to have a vulnerable IT-infrastructure you first need to have an IT-infrastructure. One example might be an intelligence agency working with an autarkic network without any connection to the interconnected network. Difficult to hack into something which cannot be accessed from the Internet. What I like to talk about in this article is not extreme security but rather – what many call – ‘third world’ or developing countries.
If someone would seriously consider attacking the United states of America – most probably terrorist and asymmetric attacks rather than countries – its IT infrastructure would be a weak spot that could be tested and attacked. Power Plants, Power Grids, Traffic Lights among others would be interesting targets. Even taking over the website of the White House could probably do a lot of harm. So, there, cyber attacks could be kind of harmful for a country such as the United States. But, of course, the United States is one of the most developed countries in the world. What about an underdeveloped country?
Of course, some harm can be done there. But nothing too serious. Take for example the current conflict in Libya. How many people took note that Anonymous (claimed via Twitter) shot down some governmental websites of the Libyan government? Not many. Why is that? Because that does not change anything. A severe conflict is going on in that country and if the websites of the government are up or not might be worth a laugh as PR disaster but that’s it. Imagine Libyan hackers would shut down several governmental websites and maybe do other things to the French because of their involvement in the no-fly-zone in Libya? Heck, that would be a difference.
Of course, not having an IT-infrastructure is not an option. It is needed for economic growth amongst other things.
Interesting might be to regard cyber warfare as – what the Tofflers call – Anti-War. An act which could be regarded as war but in a way does the opposite. Blowing steam instead of really hurting people. Similar to an arms race or nuclear deterrence. Cracking and hacking might be an supplement to modern warfare but will never substitute for it. However, some wars might be kept as cold as a well-chilled CPU due to the use of cyber warfare as a means of Anti-War.