Cyberwarfare fears rise

Pat Larkin, Ward Solutions (Image: Ward Solutions)

2018 will see full-scale cyberwar, predicts Ward Solutions



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3 January 2018 | 0

Aggressive activities in cyberspace may break out into the use of force as nation states and law enforcement will begin to use offensive cyber tactics.

According to security specialist Ward Solutions, in 2018, a full-scale cyber war will break out between countries. As 2017 saw a significant escalation in the number of cyber-attacks against nation states, the trend will continue this year, but what will change is that nation states may begin to respond physically to cyber aggression.

Ward cites the fact that many states, including, it says, a number of NATO allies, are currently drafting cyber warfare principles, and some agree that cyberattacks on the part of another nation state constitute an effective act of war. This justification could see states react with physical force to virtual intrusions. Ward said it expects governments to adopt “combative cyber strategies tackling both aggressive nation states and state-backed cybercriminals”, a strategy which, it says, is likely to lead to the emergence of a cybersecurity war.

The company also predicted that large numbers of the civilian population will be impacted as cyberattacks intensify and increase in frequency. This year will see cybercriminals focus their attacks on critical infrastructure, such as national power grids, to destabilise the countries in their crosshairs.

“2018 will see cybersecurity threats increase further in sophistication and the amount of damage they can potentially cause,” said Pat Larkin, CEO, Ward Solutions. “Furthermore, as state-sponsored groups increase their attacks on countries’ national infrastructures, civilians could begin to suffer as essential services come under strain. Ireland is particularly unprepared to deal with an attack on our critical national infrastructure, and to protect our interests we need to implement a comprehensive national cyber security strategy as soon as possible.

“There is clear evidence,” said Larkin, “that state-sponsored cyber-attacks are already happening around the world. Continued attacks on nations by cybercriminals will build legitimacy for national cyber response teams, and 2018 marks the tipping point when those targeted nations escalate their response to cyber-attacks, which they now classify an act of war. Cyber-attacks represent a very real threat to national security, and so expect countries to devise official coordinated defensive responses, utilising both cyber and physical, military force to protect their interests.”

In this environment, the company said, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will be leveraged by both sides. Hackers and criminals will employ AI and ML “to supplement their attacks and circumvent the advanced cybersecurity tools employed by businesses,” while enterprises will rely on the same types of technologies to bolster defences and protect assets. This will lead, the company predicts, to “an ongoing arms race between criminals and organisations, as both threats and defences increase in complexity”.


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