Cyberwar, Russian-style

With the invasion of Georgia, Russia has signaled that reports of her demise are greatly exaggerated, and more than a little premature. Thanks in part to the U.S. being mired in an endless Middle Eastern war, Russia is in a position to define a sphere of influence, and operate within it with impunity. Many are focusing on the legalisms involved: in particularly, how the secession of Kosovo from Serbia opened up the door for Russia to play the same game in South Ossetia/Georgia. But the truth of the matter is that U.S. moves in eastern Europe (in particular the prospect of U.S. missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic) meant that Russia has been backed into a corner. Now we see her response.

And we’re also getting a glimpse of the new face of warfare. Even as the tanks started to roll, it became evident that Georgia was under massive cyberattack; now the New York Times has reported that this online incursion (or rehearsals for it) commenced last month. The NYT calls this the “first time that a known cyberattack has coincided with a shooting war”, which I find strange, as there’s more than a little evidence that the U.S. did the same thing in its assault on Iraq in 2003 (and if they didn’t, then they were fools not to).  At any rate, it won’t be the last.

But the exact contours of this new type of war will take some while to play out.  As with space warfare, the topography of cyberwarfare remains relatively undefined.  A fascinating article in Wired pointed out how some countries are cyberlocked:  just as a landlocked country has no access to the sea, cyberlocked countries rely to too great an extent on nearby countries for their access to the net.  (In this case, Georgia is dependent to an alarming degree on Russia infrastructure.)  The road from here to THE MIRRORED HEAVENS (in which the World Wide Net actually sunders along geopolitical lines) remains a long one, but I think we’re starting to see the first signs of it.

And meanwhile Georgia had better pray the cease-fire holds.  Vladimir Putin may not use computers, but he’s pretty good at employing people who do.

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5 Responses to “Cyberwar, Russian-style”

  1. Brian Says:

    And then there’s this little issue with the USAF getting their cyberwar unit in order.

    Maybe this accounts for the NYT’s assertion of Russia being the first to use cyberwar in conjunction w/ bullets.

  2. Al Billings Says:

    Wow, the cybercommand news is big. I met the head of that group last week at the Black Hat security conference when he was speaking at the Feds panel. It is weird that it just got the axe.

  3. David Williams Says:

    Hmm. Big news indeed. Space Command got folded into U.S. Strategic Command a few years back. I wonder if they’re going to do the same thing with cyber-related matters. Pulling the plug at the eleventh hour certainly smacks of a power play by someone. I’d give a lot to know the backstory here.

  4. Big Johnson Says:

    I heard it got canceled because there was people inside there that coundt be trusted yet. They have to get rid of them first and then they can launch it.

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