SECRET CYBER WAR : IMPLICATIONS

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SECRET CYBER WAR : IMPLICATIONS

In Aug 1945, a new weapon was out in the open, it could never be put back in the box. Award winning documentarian’s latest movie Zero Day talks about the creation and deployment of Stuxnet virus; a game changer in cyber warfare. A self replicating virus launched by US & Israel into the centrifuges of Natanz nuclear plant in Iran, spinning the centrifuges out of control, while displaying normal signals to the scientists. With this computer code crosses the threshold of cyber & enters the physical space.

It was extremely dangerous because it was an attack on critical infrastructure in peacetime. Had it been done to US, it could have initiated a war. Attacking critical infrastructure at will cannot be the new norm. The two who discovered Stuxnet; Eric & Liam from Symantec, saw just one or two state sponsored attacks 2010, is now in the range of hundred. Cyber weapon can be launched only with the permission of the President of the US, which makes it analogous to nuclear weapons.

From signal intelligence, capturing radio signals or possibly jamming, the cyber weapon goes beyond espionage to be able to take control of machines and cause physical destruction as in war. Suddenly, there is a great strategic weapon which can even take down hospitals. Iranians were indicted for having launched cyber attacks on American banks, by the same logic NASA should have been indicted for the Iranian attack.

Lots of other digital technologies like drones also come into play, the point to ponder is about legal reciprocity & values. It is here the rubber meets the road. Transparency & secrecy are other issues. Nobody accepts creating & using Stuxnet. It is still classified. Secrecy becomes a kind of default. Opaqueness seems to there to stay. Internet has been militarized. The fond hope is that a regulatory regime comes into existence for Cyber Weapons, in a similar manner as has happened for nuclear & chemicals weapons.

POTENT CYBER WEAPON CANNOT GO UNREGULATED.

Sanjay Sahay

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