The landscape of warfare is undergoing a serious transformation as technology advances. Traditional warfare, characterized by tanks, soldiers, and air attacks, is no longer the sole arena for military conflict. Instead, there is a new arena of warfare namely cyberattacks that operates in the digital realm, often silently and covertly instead of out in the open.
We’ll explore how cyberattacks are changing the nature of modern warfare, their impact on countries, civilization, and internationally, and some strategies and methods to prevent and protect yourself from this emerging threat.
The Evolution of Warfare
The evolution of warfare has always been closely connected to technological advancements. Technological innovation has consistently shaped the way wars are fought, from the first use of firearms in the 14th century to the invention of nuclear weapons in the 20th century.
The 21st century brought digital technologies and the internet, which has given rise to cyberattacks. This has proven to be a powerful tool in modern warfare as it can hit important people and nations in an instant.
Within the world of cyberthreats and attacks there are several types of attacks that cybercriminals can execute. This can both be espionage, data theft and spreading of misinformation and disruption of critical infrastructures. Compared to the conventionally known warfare - which relies on physical force - cyberattacks exploit vulnerabilities in software and digital systems, making them even more difficult to detect and fight. It’s a major shift in how we know warfare, though it remains to influence governments, military and civilian people as well, even though it’s all online now.
How it affects governments and nations
One of the most significant consequences of cyberattacks on modern warfare is their potential to disrupt national security. Due to this change, many nation states invest in improved cyber defenses as the threat increases.
It's vital to gain a strategic advantage in this case, since governments and military can e.g. lose great amounts of crucial documents in a cyberattack. Cyberattacks can interfere with the functioning of governments, compromise classified information, and even damage critical infrastructure, such as public transport, airports, production and other industries.
Cyberattacks can have severe financial consequences for any country that is hit by the attack. Usually, it’s businesses and industries that are the main targets of cyberattacks, leading to financial losses and economic instability. Furthermore, the theft of intellectual property through spyware attacks can challenge a nation's economic competitiveness on a global scale.
Since every nation might have cybercriminals with eminent hacking skills, it can lead to distrust among national leaders which then leads to diplomatic crises. It can often be difficult to find the culprit of cyberattacks, as attackers can hide behind several layers of anonymity. This complicates the process of finding the guilty parties and thus giving a proper verdict to the guilty - this will bring tensions between nations as there will be allegations across borders.
The Impact on Society
Cyberattacks will always carry great influence and have consequences for the victims; and even greater consequences if the victim is an entire nation or leading political leader.
Privacy concerns: As governments and organizations become more reliant on technologies, our privacy is at great risk, as that is our most valuable asset and an easy thing to target and get. Cyberattacks that target personal data can lead to identity theft, financial fraud, and data breaches. This damages our trust in digital systems and institutions.
Misinformation and manipulation: Cyberattacks are not only limited to hacking and data breaches. It’s also about spreading false information and, in the worst case, manipulation of public opinion. Social media are often used to spread false information and start conflicts within societies, creating doubt and mistrust.
Emotional impact: The constant threat of cyberattacks can take a toll on the mental well-being of people in the targeted countries. The fear of having personal data stolen or being exposed to false information can lead to anxiety and stress which is unhealthy for anyone.
How to stay ahead of attacks
In order to prevent and avoid cyberattacks it’s important to stay ahead of the threat. There are different initiatives you and governments should implement for a better cyberdefense:
If governments, organizations and individuals should consider getting strong cyber defenses. You do so by implementing encryption, updating software regularly, using firewalls, having attack surface management and an incident response plan.
Cyberattacks are a global threat that don’t consider national borders. Global cooperation is crucial in facing this challenge. Countries and nations should work together to establish norms and rules for conscientious behavior in cyberspace and to share information about any newly discovered cyber threats.
Education and greater awareness
Raising awareness about cybersecurity is pivotal for minimizing the impact of cyberattacks. When organizations use awareness training to educate their employees of the cyberthreat and how to mitigate the risk of attack, any organization and nation will stand stronger against the cyberthreat.
A strong defense
Some nations choose to advance offensive cyber capabilities as a defense against potential attacks. The idea behind having a defensive approach is to discourage hackers from launching attacks. With a better defense, the hackers need to use more money and energy if they want to successfully infiltrate the target systems.
The Future of Cyber Warfare
It’ll always be relevant to look at the future of cyber, especially how it can be used in warfare. Below we take a look at 3 ways technology can change warfare further:
AI: The future of cyber warfare will probably be shaped by AI. Tools and technologies that are powered by AI can automate attacks, recognize vulnerabilities, and adapt to evolving defense mechanisms. This could lead to more sophisticated and widespread cyberattacks than we’ve seen to this day.
Quantum computing: The emergence of quantum computing could furthermore revolutionize how cyber warfare operates. Quantum computers have the potential to crack the encryption methods we know, making it crucial for nations to develop and evolve new encryption techniques that can fight a decent fight against quantum attacks.
Ethical questions: As cyber warfare evolves, ethical considerations and questions will become more and more important as they arise. Questions about how and if nations use cyberattacks in warfare, how it can influence citizens, and the laws governing cyber conflict should be addressed on a global scale.
It will be difficult to find an end to cyber warfare, and it will evidently continue to evolve. Cyberattacks have inherently changed the landscape of modern warfare. It’s a great cyberthreat that the attacks have the ability to disturb, damage, and manipulate digital systems. This poses a significant threat to anything from governments, societies, to national economies.
Nations should stand together against the evolving nature of cyber warfare. Some things that have been suggested in this blog post is that strategies and proactivity are key elements to prevent cyberattacks. Cooperation will be relevant as well as the ethical questions that will surface, once cyber warfare is the main threat to nations.
Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.View all posts by Caroline Preisler