Cyberspace – The New Theater of Conflict


“Science makes and then it unmakes”

Since the beginning of mankind, technology has contributed heavily to the process of human evolution. From the invention of fire and wheel in the ancient time to the invention of internet in the moder era, science and technology continue to shape human existence in multiple ways. All that historical prowess however seems to be dwarfed by the current trends in the growth of post-modern technology. It is not an exaggeration to claim that today’s age is truly a technology age. With cyberspace emerging as a parallel world, technology seems to be slowly moving in the direction of surpassing human intelligence. With the kind of developments going on in the fields of artifical intelligence and robotics, human beings might sometime in not-so-far future lose their status of being the superior-most creatures. Machines can provide 100% accuracy and may be immune from mistakes something which humans can certainly never achieve.

Cyber Security

There are two famous ‘realist’ sayings in International Relations discipline that, “War is intrinsic to human nature” and “Either you hunt or be hunted” – this is how human civilizations have progressed. These clearly mean that wars can never be obliterated, with time only the nature of warfare changes. For instance, the First World War saw for the first time that airplanes were used in combat, while the Second World War saw the use of Nuclear bombs. Similarly, the post cold war period can be characterised by increasing use of technology and IT boom in the world. Phrases like “Global Village” etc aptly define how the world has today transformed today. E-governance and electronic medium has struck everyone by awe. Finance and banking have almost completely become electronic. Thus in this changed world of today it is obvious that the nature of warfare has also gone through a considerable shift. The cyberspace has now emerged an the new theatre of of conflict. This conflict is manifested in the following ways

Cyber Wars

A cyber war is a “No contact” war, where the idea is to attack the critical information (CI)architecture of another state. In a cyber war the militaries of the countries do not meet face-to-face with each other as the war can be launched by one country against the other which could be thousands of miles away from it. It is of two types : Cyber exploitation and cyber attacks. In a cyber exploitation the idea is to hack into the Critical information architecture with the purpose of stealing information. For example, ISI of Pakistan has in the past hacked into the BSNL communication servers of India through a malware. In the latter the idea is to cause destruction by harming the CI Infrastructure. For instance, in 2010, US and

Israel used STUXNET malware to destroy the Iranian nuclear programme and in 2014 North Korea unleashed a series of cyber attacks on Europe and the US through ‘Ransomware’ and ‘wannacry’.

Cyber Crimes

Another domain of cyber conflict is the use of cyberspace for criminal activity including identity thefts and financial frauds. The ‘phishing’ industry has already become a big headache for poor and devloping countries. In India, Adhaar card data and other biometric information has also been hacked thereby causing extensive identity thefts.

Cyber Terrorism

This is perhaps the most dangerous probl confronting the world today. It is the use of cyberspace by a terrorist group for propaganda and recruitment. For instance, ISIS uses internet for radicalization by resorting to the display of graphic images of violence to the vulnerable youth active on social media. This is followed by a flooding of fake videos to incite and radicalize the vulnerable target and once the person is completely radicalized he/she is recruited in the organization and it directed to carry out ‘lone wolf’ attacks. This has been the pattern of attack in most of the cases of terrorist violence across Europe in the past 5 years.

Prevention is always better than cure. Cyber revolution is a move of the mankind which could not be reversed, it is here to stay and transform the way we look at everything in the world, therefore urgent need of the hour is to accept this march of history in a positive spirit and put in place enough safeguards so that abuse of this unlimited potential of cyberspace could be prevented. Moreover, ethical behavior and morals could not be infused overnight and hence it is imperative that a whole ecosystem inculcating internet values and etiquettes (Netiquettes) is developed.

Nothing in this world is intrinsically bad, it all depends on what we chose to make of things, that give them a value.

-Contributed by Kunwar Suryansh

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