It seems that Twitter has come under co-ordinated attack
from hackers calling themselves the “Iranian Cyber Army”.
It will be remembered that Twitter was the means by which
the world found out about demonstrations against the current administration in
Cyberwarfare is no longer science fiction. It is happening –
quite a lot in fact. It ranges from minor hacking for data to full scale
“denial of service” attacks to cripple a whole network – the cyberwarfare
equivalent to carpet bombing – such as that which is said
to have preceded the South Ossetia War in 2008.
A relatively obscure text
from the nation that gave us Sun Tzu provides the theory behind cyberwarfare.
In Unrestricted Warfare, two Chinese
colonels reverse von Clausewitz’s classic “war is the continuation of politics
by other means”.
Now politics is the continuation of war by other means.
Indeed almost anything can be war by other means. Economics can be war: cripple
someone’s economy and you cripple his ability to wage war.
The surest way to cripple an economy is to cripple the
computer networks on which business now depends.
Given that most small businesses are reliant on computers
connected to the internet for at least some of their operations, it is not
merely possible but probable that, sooner or later, most of us will be either
the targets of cyber attacks or, more likely, suffer collateral damage.
We need to get into the habit of taking practical countermeasures
1 Modern IT is so
convenient that we often forget to ask if it is necessarily the best way of
doing business? For example, are we losing customers when we lose human
contact? We should make a point of reviewing all aspects of our IT dependency
on a regular basis, and not just for security reasons.
2 Most commercial
security software will be little defence against a major cyber attack specifically
designed by experts – but up to date security is still essential as protection
against bottom-feeding hackers and their unending attempts to steal
information. If you have good security software, you may not know how good it
is, because you may never know how many attempted thefts it has foiled.
3 Back up everything
– at least twice – and then lock a back up copy away somewhere, preferably at a
different location in case your premises are destroyed by fire or some such
4 Finally, as
citizens rather than businessmen, we should oppose the jailing of talented
hackers like Gary McKinnon, so long as there is nothing malicious in their offences.
Our governments should be employing people like that to defend us.