Cyber warfare is another type of what the military call ‘assymetrical” warfare, in which David seeks to take down Goliath. Large organisations have always been dependent upon easily disruptable communication systems; so today, with the Internet representing all our eggs wobbling about in the same basket, our vulnerability is unique.
This vulnerability will increase as our dependency on the Internet becomes total. For the moment, the USA and the developed world are most at risk, with more of our basic vital systems controlled by computers via internet links.
But even though some governments are clearly attempting to wage cyber warfare on each other, they will all very soon be equally at the mercy of cyber warfare combatants. This will, as we are beginning to see even now, bring most governments to agree not to carry out cyber attacks on each other – in a digital version of nuclear ‘mutually assured destruction’.
But in the undeveloped world, where in forsaken places like Somalia, pirates, terrorists and other undesirables gather to oppose the West, inequality will breed the cyber warriors of our near future. No need to put men with bombs on board airliners. Soon planes can be crashed remotely, by disrupting GPS systems; financial systems wrecked, and all manner of other serious disruption.
But as ever was, the motivation of these people will be to demonstrate the inability of government to govern. Having been ignored, declining into poverty while others prosper, cyber warfare will switch from the preserve of the awkward geeky person who everyone mocked and abused at high school, to the disenfranchised peoples of the world.
The danger of the Internet to us is far greater than to them, as it unites the disenfranchised of every continent, regardless of nation, and costs them nothing. Our only solution is to even things up – but not by reciprocal cyber reaction, for as the Americans discovered fighting the Vietcong, the enemy are ghosts which vanish when looked at.
The only solution is the global sharing of resources, converting the disenfranchised to progress and prosperity. The alternative is for the prosperous to retreat into their fortresses, which as weaker governments succumb to blackmail and chaos, will become prisons.