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Author Topic: Will wars become cyberwars?  (Read 2539 times)

Offline cheryl j

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Will wars become cyberwars?
« on: 04/10/2014 05:29:19 »
I suppose there's no  substitute for cutting off a real live head, but I was wondering how much of war will be cyberwarefare. I was watching a show - I think it was Nova, but they were talking about the US hacking into Iran's system with a virus that caused the centrifuges in a uranium enrichment facility to break. I wondered, how come this is the first time I've heard of this? Why wasn't it all over the news? Why don't I remember anyone talking about it? Was I just really busy that week? Is that not a big deal or does it happen all the time?
« Last Edit: 04/10/2014 05:30:56 by cheryl j »


 

Online evan_au

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Re: Will wars become cyberwars?
« Reply #1 on: 04/10/2014 13:03:37 »
Computer hacking is an ongoing battle between the hackers and the designers of firewalls and anti-virus software.

Some of the hacking attempts are done by individuals, small groups, criminal groups, nation-sponsored groups, and spy agencies. Sometimes for financial gain, sometimes to attack an unpopular nation or company, sometimes to get a news story and sometimes to spy on a nation or a company; and sometimes just for the fame/infamy.

Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, before it was commissioned - as a cross-border attack, this made the news at the time. The Stuxnet worm which attacked the Iranian uranium enrichment plant in 2010 was a much less visible attack, remixing the enriched and depleted uranium, and causing premature failure of the centrifuges. This only made the technical press when this worm started infecting industrial control systems around the world. Fortunately, this worm was so specific to a uranium enrichment plant that it was unlikely to damage any other equipment. The immense sophistication of this attack indicates that it must have been a state-sponsored attack, possibly by Israeli & US secret intelligence services.

A security loophole was recently discovered in the "bash" utility on the UNIX operating system. The authors and users of this software worked to correct the bug, but within a a few days of announcing discovery of the bug, one firewall company was fending off over 100,000 attacks per day on this vulnerability.

You can be sure that computer attacks will also be part of any future wars or political disagreements.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Will wars become cyberwars?
« Reply #2 on: 05/10/2014 01:50:12 »
Do you think drones can be hacked?
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: Will wars become cyberwars?
« Reply #3 on: 05/10/2014 17:35:39 »
If a drone is completely autonomous, it could in principle be 100% hackproof. If it's controlled remotely, it could be hacked in theory, but you could make the odds against that more than astronomical by using the right encryption on all communications with it. If there are bugs in the system that leave security holes though, the encryption could potentially be bypassed, so you don't want any copy of the operating system used in the drone to be available to any enemy to let them study it and find the holes. You could make an OS for it with no security holes, but programmers are generally sloppy and can't be trusted to make such an OS, and even if you have the best team in the world, there could be security flaws in the hardware, and the enemy will always get chances to study the hardware whenever a drone is shot down.
 

Online evan_au

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Re: Will wars become cyberwars?
« Reply #4 on: 06/10/2014 06:46:57 »
One topic upon which all spy agencies spend a lot of effort is hacking the encryption of other countries. The hacking of the German Enigma code had a major impact on the outcome of World War 2.

According to the Snowdon allegations, US spy agencies worked with encryption standards committees to intentionally weaken public encryption so they could hack it more easily. Unfortunately, this also makes all US commerce more susceptible to international hacking, industrial espionage and sabotage attempts.

One could imagine spy agencies trying to put a "back door" into military software, so they could disable it at the least convenient point in time.
« Last Edit: 06/10/2014 20:58:10 by evan_au »
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Will wars become cyberwars?
« Reply #5 on: 06/10/2014 16:06:31 »
Does quantum computing have the potential to break all encryption or just some types?
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: Will wars become cyberwars?
« Reply #6 on: 06/10/2014 18:06:30 »
Does quantum computing have the potential to break all encryption or just some types?

Just some. I don't know if everything with a public and private key is at risk, but I think I read about one that isn't. One way of encrypting things that it certainly can't crack is where you pass a file of millions of random numbers to the person you want to communicate with and you use that to encrypt messages, but you only want to use it once before using a new file. These files are not sent, but taken and handed over in person. It may be possible to use them more than once by modifying them using an algorithm taking input from the decrypted messages that were decrypted using the random numbers, thereby creating a new set of random numbers, but you'd want to be very sure of the mathematics of how you do that so that you aren't opening yourself up to being cracked. If that can be done safely though, it means you only need to pass one large set of random numbers at the outset and then you can communicate remotely with each other potentially forever.
 

Online evan_au

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Re: Will wars become cyberwars?
« Reply #7 on: 06/10/2014 21:03:46 »
There are some strong encryption algorithms.
Rather than try to crack these codes, it is much easier to get into the user's computer, take a copy of the encryption algorithm, and install a spy program that records keystrokes, so the spy agency knows the password to decrypt the communications.
Or they could install a program that just copies the files of interest, and sends them to the spy agency (which may be in another country).
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Will wars become cyberwars?
« Reply #8 on: 07/10/2014 10:42:57 »
A system can only be hacked if it is remotely accessible. Beats me why anyone provides remote access to anything they want to keep secure.
 

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Re: Will wars become cyberwars?
« Reply #8 on: 07/10/2014 10:42:57 »

 

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