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Internet opens cyber war floodgates

This year could see more critical infrastructure attacks, ranging from attacks on power utilities, to elections, says the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service's Kenneth Geers.

The strength of the Internet is bringing people and ideas together, yet this will challenge intellectual property owners and national security secrets.

This is according to Kenneth Geers, cyber subject matter expert at the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who says organisations that cannot adapt to this new environment will be replaced by more agile ones.

Geers will feature at the 7th annual ITWeb Security Summit, to be held between 15 and 17 May, at the Sandton Convention Centre. He will tackle the subject of cyber warfare in a presentation titled “Cyber Warfare: Beyond Theory”.

Geers points out that cyber law cannot keep up with the rapid evolution of IT, and that there are many ways to disseminate information.

“Cyber attacks are the most flexible weapon the world has ever seen,” says Geers. “They may be used for propaganda, espionage, impersonation and even the destruction of critical infrastructure.”

WikiLeaks proved that the life expectancy of secrets, including classified information, is shorter than ever. “This demonstrates the power of computer networks to amplify information. WikiLeaks, along with Facebook and Twitter, is widely credited with helping to start the Arab Spring.”

Geers says this year could see more critical infrastructure attacks, targeting anything from power utilities to elections. He claims everything that is connected to the Web is vulnerable to attack from unknown hackers anywhere in the world.

“Not long ago, there were many cyber war sceptics, but Stuxnet, the successful cyber attack on the Iranian nuclear programme, has largely silenced their voices.

Now, national security planners are busy rethinking national security concepts in light of these changes,” notes Geers.

Story by Alex Kayle

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