Binary War • HWzone

The binary war

Military operations around the world are rapidly expanding into the digital realm, changing forever the evolution of our conflicts. The harsh reality: in combat , We all stand in the line of fire

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Like so many stories in the digital security world, this story started with simple human negligence. At 2006, a senior official from the Syrian government who was visiting London brought him his personal computer. One day he left the hotel and left the laptop behind. While he was outside the hotel, agents of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, stole into his room and installed a Trojan horse on the computer, which enabled them to monitor all his engagements.

For the Syrians, that alone could have been bad enough, but as the Israelis began examining the files that were in the official's computer, they caught their attention. In the photo, Asians were seen in a blue running suit standing next to an Arab, in the middle of the desert. It could have been a random meeting between friends, or even a photo taken while on vacation. But the institution has identified both men as Chun Chibo, one of North Korea's nuclear program leaders, and Ibrahim Othman, director of Syria's Atomic Energy Commission. Compounding the image with other hard drive documents, such as pipeline construction plans and photographs used to work with fissile material, the Israelis came to a troubling conclusion: Syrians secretly built al-Qibar, aided by North Korea, a plutonium processing facility - an essential stage in atomic bomb assembly. An investigation by the International Nuclear Energy Agency (IAEA) later confirmed their concerns.

Disturbed by the discovery of the hostile state, the Israelis embarked on Operation Orchard. At 6 in September 2007, shortly after midnight, seven F-15I fighter jets crossed the border into Syrian airspace. They flew hundreds of miles into enemy territory, dropped several bombs and flattened the complex in Kibar. The Syrian air defense array did not fire or even a single shot.

The security failure did not occur because all Syrian radar officers became traitors that night. Their technology, on the other hand, yes, in the West. If planting the Trojan horse on the Syrian government official's laptop was an online spying operation - aimed at revealing confidential information through digital means - Operation Bustan was his armed cousin. Before the bombing, the Israelis penetrated the Syrian army's computer network in a way that allowed them to monitor their opponents' actions. Furthermore, the Israelis could plant information inside Air Defense. Once they penetrated it, the Israelis presented a false picture on the radar screens, causing the Syrian radar operators to think that everything was going well and not to see the enemy planes flying deep into their airspace. In doing so, she turned off That night, Syria's entire air defense system was given a chilling look at the future of cyber warfare.

A new type of warfare

The mainstream media uses the term "network warfare" to describe everything from large-scale network-based crimes to the latest online maneuvers in places like Ukraine, but sources Few explained how this was reflected in real military operations. When countries develop the ability to deploy their armed forces in a digital battlefield, they carry the potential to re-engineer the battlefield in a similar way in which the planes and rockets a hundred years ago changed the battlefield when they joined the airspace.

Today, more than 100 armies of the world have units dedicated to combat . The Fort Myrtle complex in Maryland, home to the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the United States Cyber ​​Command, has a larger Pentagon staff. Datong Street in Shanghai is, according to reports, the home of the 61398 unit, a Chinese network associated with burglaries and attacks on everything from the media of United States to the internal email network of The New York Times. The size, scale, training programs, and budgets of these organizations vary, but they share the same goals: "destroy, deprive, damage, disrupt, and deceive," as defined by the US Air Force. At the same time, their purpose is to scale the enemy's use of the online space for the same purposes.

Unlike decoding in World War II, network attacks allow not only to read the information in the enemy's network, but also to control it. Photo: Dan Salinger
Unlike cryptographic deciphering in World War II, attacks Allow not only to read the information in the enemy's network, but also to control it. Photo: Dan Salinger

The interest in network warfare is skyrocketing. In the US defense budget for 2012, for example, the word "cyber" has appeared 12 times. This year, she has appeared 147 times. New funding included everything from working on covert incursions similar to the Israeli orchard operation to wider efforts like Plan X, a $ XNUM million budget program that, according to one report, will help combat planners put together online attacks, put them into action quickly and turn attacks A more routine part of the US military operations. Government officials are also taking part in broader discussions on how to organize such units. One of the suggestions is to place them under services Completely new, similar to the way the War Department of the United States, a hundred years ago, attached air units to the Signal Corps (and later to other units of the military) before the establishment of the independent air force.

No matter how these discussions end, what is called the new battlefield, there is actually a lot in common with traditional warfare operations. The computer is just another weapon in the arsenal. As is the case with the spear or plane, designed to help achieve each's goals Given.

Every battle, Or war begins with gathering intelligence about the enemy. In World War II, the ability of the Allies to decipher the Axis radios proved itself crucial to victory. As the Israelis showed in Operation Bustan, interception of digital communications is still the first step in modern warfare, because penetration into networks and gathering information is a basic means of preparation for offensive activity. The military used these tactics in the Pacific when the tension has intensified in recent years. Chinese targets the networks of the US armed forces in every area, from deployment schedules to the logistics status of American bases in the Pacific. And as the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed, US online units work just as hard to gather information about their potential rivals in China.

What makes digital warfare different from intelligence programs in the past is the way intelligence gathering can turn offensive activities into action. Unlike cryptographic deciphering in World War II, attacks Allow not only to read the enemy's radio broadcasts but to control the radio itself.

As the Israelis have shown, if war planners can harm an enemy's network communication, they move from the learning stage to the actions of the enemy, to the stage where they can change them. Hackers can attack enemy command and control, prevent commanders from issuing commands and units to communicate with one another, or they can prevent independent weapons systems from sharing vital information with others. More than 100 American defense systems, ranging from aircraft carriers to individual missiles, rely on landmarks During promotions. In 2010 a software error has been disconnected from the 10,000 receivers Military from the net for more than two weeks; This meant that everyone, from trucks to prototypes of the advanced combat drone X-47, suddenly couldn't determine their location.

Warrior Such a software error would become a deliberate action, causing confusion and lack of communication on a massive scale. Earlier this year, for example, Ukrainian forces found themselves in the Crimea disconnected electronically from their commanders, during the Russian occupation. Isolated, weapon-inferior, and unsure of what to do next, they surrendered without fighting. But neutralizing or disrupting communication An opponent's "noisy" action, if used in terms . In other words, the effect of an attack is clear, so the victim knows that his system has been disrupted. A more sophisticated attacker might instead try to disrupt the information contained within his target communication system, sewing misrepresentations that appear to come from within the organization. The military has traditionally used the term "information warfare" to describe Which are intended to influence the decision-making of an enemy.

The goals may be very strategic, such as planting false orders that appear to come from senior commanders, or more tactical ones, such as the case in which the Israelis took over Syrian Air Defense.

Such attacks on the information itself, rather than just its flow, can have immediate consequences on the battlefield - but can have a greater impact in the long run. Military communication is based on trust. By violating that trust, the hacker is not only disrupting you Computers but also the trust of those who rely on them. Only a relatively small percentage of attacks should succeed to sow doubt about all electronic information. In this case users will begin to doubt everything and check the veracity of the information all the time, thus greatly slowing the decision making process. In the most extreme scenario, a trust problem can cause forces To abandon networked computers with regard to vital information, and to restore their capabilities decades back to the pre-electronic era.

Such technological avoidance sounds improbable, especially when computers have proven to be so useful in modern warfare. Imagine that you have information you must give to your boss, or that you risk losing your job. Would you send it by e-mail if 50 had a chance that it would get lost or that its contents would change on the way? Or would you just hand it over to him? What if the risk was 10 percent? What if even one percent? Now, consider the same risks in a situation where your workplace is not at risk but your life. Would your behavior change?

Digital battles of persuasion

At 2012, a UAV is tracking a stadium over Austin, Texas, following a guided course In what looked like I dispatched. Without warning, the UAV deviated from its predetermined route and sharply turned east from its destination. Shortly thereafter, the UAV made another incorrect route update, flying south, before finally changing the direction of its flight to the ground crash course.

Fortunately, this flight was an exercise, not a realistic catastrophe. The Department of National Security has recruited a team of engineers from the University of Texas to see if they can break into the UAV flight computer in the air, and the group has proven capable of meeting the challenge.

UAVs have become one of the most important technologies in the war. They provide surveillance and surveillance and deliver supplies; they can launch missiles toward emerging targets. The United States Army has more than 8,000 such aircraft, including the famous Predator and Reaper, and more than -NUMX Other countries have military robotics programs, but the removal of humans from aircraft has created new and unexpected weaknesses. Each robotic system connects to a computer system that provides instructions, and the location of the His. her Allowing drones to hit targets that are thousands of miles away also opens channels for disruption or even joint control. As a result, we are entering an era of what could be called "digital battles of control".

No one can master the flight path of a bullet, and no one has ever managed to brainwash a bomber's bomber in mid-flight. But if Will succeed in penetrating the systems Robotic, they can "force" them to do the opposite of what their owners intended. The result will be a completely new type of battle, the purpose of which is not only to destroy the enemy tanks, but to make them move in circles - or even to attack each other. In the best-case example of this type of event, the United States and Israel are also using the Stuxnet virus to tamper with computerized Iranian centrifuges. The virus caused machines to break down and followed the Iranian nuclear weapons program for months.

In a war game at the Pentagon in 2013, participants looked at how they would use this type of weapon to send the enemy fleet to what they jokingly called "a pleasure cruise experience." Instead of launching missiles to destroy the fleet, a Stuxnet-style attack on warship engine control systems would have made the fleet threatening to float on the water without power.

The potential for these types of attacks is almost limitless. At 2009, an active worker at Shoshanskaya Dam in Siberia operated several unused turbine keyboard taps, leading to the massive release of water that destroyed the plant and killed 75 people. The disaster was an accident, but an enemy could recall a similar incident on purpose - just as it was when allied aircraft in World War II and the Korean War dropped bombs on dams and created floods that destroyed miles of enemy targets. The difference in combat Is that no plane will have to take off from the ground.

Warrior It is civil warfare

As is the case with wars, things that sound easy to plan can be difficult to accomplish. Target systems are complex systems, as are the operations needed to exploit them - especially when each battle has at least two sides. As the great military thinkers, Son Dese and Carl von Clausewitz described: in the face of every tactic and strategy, a clever opponent develops a counter-response.

These challenges motivate opponents to pursue what are known as "soft targets." In theory, war is a competition between fighters. In reality, more than 90 percent of casualties in the clashes that occurred in the last two decades were civilian. It was not surprising to see the same dynamics in warfare .

The most conventional approach would be any attack And a civilian operator providing support to the army. These may be private contractors, providing a significant portion of the logistics and logistical support of modern armies (about half of the American forces in places like Afghanistan and Iraq were actually salaried) or basic infrastructure such as ports and railways. Just as trade ships have generally been easier targets than warships in past conflicts, civilian computer networks tend to maintain levels Lower than those of Military operations. Making them particularly attractive. In one war game, held in Pentagon-funded 2012, a force burst, playing the enemy power to a contractor's computer network, coordinating and supplying supplies to an American military force. The goal was to change barcodes on shipping containers. If this was a real attack, US field forces would open a shipping box in anticipation of finding ammunition and instead find toilet paper.

In a Pentagon war game at 2013, the players debated how to use a weapon like Stuxnet to send the enemy fleet to what they called "fun cruise" jokes. Photo: Dan Salinger
In a Pentagon war game on 2013, the players debated how to use the tool The type of virus, Stuxnet to send the enemy fleet to what they jokingly called "a pleasure cruise experience". Photo by Dan Salinger

History shows that not only civilians who provide support to armed forces may find themselves in the line of fire. When new technologies like And long-range missiles have expanded the range of military activity beyond the front lines, the planners have gradually expanded their legitimate assault targets. By the end of World War II, all sides had broadened their strategic bombing targets and included the civilian population, arguing that the best way to end the war was to make it clear to citizens of its price. When the network warrior becomes a larger reality, the grim calculation will probably be true here as well.

As long as online weapons are still in their infancy, it is too early to map their full impact. In the early days of aircraft, military planners had some forecasts. Some of them proved to be correct, such as the idea that airplanes would bombard cities, while others proved to be absolutely wrong-for example, the thought that war could be decided by only.

But in spite of all the ways in which it may change the way we deal with military operations, the most widespread concept of warfare Will probably not consist of one action. It is more likely that this will be the way in which network warfare will integrate with other technologies and combat tactics to create something unexpected. The plane, tank, and radio had already appeared during World War I, but only after the Germans had combined them to form a war (Blitzkraig) in World War II, they left their permanent mark.

As we review the development of the situation, it is important to reflect on the tragic irony. The Internet, which may have begun as a project of the US Department of Defense, has become one of the world's greatest forces to generate political, economic and social changes. This dual history is supposed to make the virtual space play a central role in the future of world conflicts without surprising, but it should also make us a little sad. War, even one that exists through zeros and a few, will always leave a terrible waste of resources.

More about innovations in the November issue of Popular Science Israel - For a special introduction to surfers


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