When I first thought about this headline, I was thinking about a catchy phrase to begin with, but actually it fits really well to the topic of cyberwar. Round about one week ago, we had an interesting discussion in Phillipp Müller’s class concerning security in network societies and cyberwar as such. Some aspects of this new kind of war and warfare are unique, closely related to the blessings of todays internet and have risen as the web grew and became more important .
First of all, this new kind of war does not necessarily have to be led by states or state-level actors. Virtually anyone with -enough motivation and skill to create (or buy/lend) a botnet- can theoretically launch a denial of service-attack on any agent who is present in the web. Those targets can be nationstates like Estonia, but they don’t have to be, which means that whole wars can be engaged by and between small networks of people who have the capacities (e.g. botnets) to do so. Also, in theese possible wars it seems that aggressive actions are fairily easy to perform while the defence against those (broadening of bandwidth etc…) might end up as a state-only option because they actually have the capacity to act accordingly. Assuming this scenario to be realistic, it will lead to interesting situations between private cyberwar-actors similiar to game-theory, prisoner’s dilemma etc.
The other thing, that really got me thinking is the combination of this anyone-can-join -situation with the anonymity of the web. In this new kind of war, destructive groups and persons can perform attacks on virtually anyone without a realistic chance of being ‚caught‘ and being brought to justice. From a rogue person’s point of view, cyberwar really is what this article’s headline implies: an opportinity to do/assault whatever/whoever you want whenever you want without the fear (or even possibility) of retaliation. Theese attacks cannot be tracked back properly and thus, the only working countermeasure is to get rid of the original attack, but that’s it.
Having said that, it really is a brave new world that we live in, and in which we are highly dependent on both the responsibillity of those in power and our latest anti-botware programmes.