It used to be that cyberwar was this science fiction concept that made for a great thriller or heart-pounding movie. The hero always seemed to emerge victorious at the end because of his superior intellect to outwit the bad guys. As it was portrayed, cyberwar was always something that happened unexpectedly. The reality is that cyberwarfare is no longer theoretical or the subject of fiction writers – it’s happening every day and the US is the number one target.
There’s a fascinating website called map.ipviking.com that tracks cyber attacks is realtime, showing where they originate from and who the target is. If you go there and watch for a few minutes, it’s readily apparent that the US is the center of attention for the rest of the world when it comes to cyber attacks. And most of those attacks originate from foreign governments, in particular China, which seems to be actively probing our vulnerabilities on a minute by minute basis.
Cyber warfare is now a known and acceptable extension of traditional war planning. Take the ongoing strife in the Ukraine. Russia has been actively targeting Ukraine’s infrastructure as well as its industries in order to inflict pain on the country. In fact, Russia has been so brazen that they hacked into the Ukrainian elections systems during the presidential election and managed to change the results for the pro-Russian candidate to show him receiving almost 40% of the vote, almost enough to swing the election, when in reality he received less than 1% of the vote. Even so, Russia has been careful to not show its true cyberwar capabilities, which many people believe to be extensive.
The US has not been idle in that regard and has a very active and robust cyberwar capability, which they deploy rarely and without fan-fare when needed. All of the military services have their own cyberwar divisions as do all the civilian intelligence and defense forces.