The Future of Cyber War
In 2022, just hours before Russian troops invaded, Ukraine was hit by new malware designed to wipe data. As the digital world is evolving by the second, it becomes apparent that it can be used as a weapon to affect the events of the real world. So much so that the general public wonders if we are in the midst of a cyber war. Going back to the Russia-Ukraine war, in the first 10 weeks of 2022, over 150 cyberattacks were launched against Ukraine.
In January 2022, hackers disabled more than 70 government websites in Ukraine. Microsoft found malware on Ukraine’s government systems that could be triggered remotely. In the following month, the FBI asked US companies to alert them to “any increased [cyber]activity against Ukraine or US critical infrastructure.” This led up to March when there were more than 6 billion potential cyber-attacks worldwide in a single 24-hour period. In Russia’s case, the war with Ukraine is likely serving as a testing ground for its next generation of cyber weapons.
So, what would a “cyber war” look like? With a single cyber attack, electrical grids are shut down meaning the destruction of vital technology like steel mills, gas pipelines, and centrifuges. It also can lead to the destruction of the entire power infrastructure. A cyber war scales this up tremendously, similar to the Texas Freeze of 2021. In that event, there was widespread damage due to frozen or burst pipes. With the power grid knocked out, there was a major loss of electricity, food storage, and water access. Moreover, everyday activities were disrupted leading to over 200 deaths.