The New York Times is reporting that the United States nearly chose to use “cyber weaponry” just before the American-led strikes against Libya in March by hacking into the Libyan government’s air defense control systems. While the exact techniques remain classified, the goal would have been to break through the firewalls of the Libyan government’s computer networks to sever military communications links and prevent the early-warning radars from gathering information and relaying it to missile batteries aiming at NATO warplanes. But it is reported that the commanding officers balked at the idea fearing that it might set a precedent for other nations, in particular Russia or China
It is then reported that the military commanders again contemplated on using Cyberattack tactics during the Navy Seals raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.
Naked Security: It is unclear exactly why the US didn’t proceed, but it appears several factors influenced the decision.
Some are suggesting that the urgency of the invasion may not have left an appropriate amount of time for the network attacks to proceed. Gaddafi’s troops were advancing quickly on the rebels, and breaking into their military networks would not have been as simple as it appears in the movies.
Another factor was a US law known as the War Powers Resolution. The President has limited powers to declare war without the approval of the US Congress. Would a cyber attack be construed as assistance to the NATO mission, or an act of war?
At the same time If you recall last year the world was shocked to hear of the Stuxnet virus which is a lethal computer virus targeting computers controlling the centrifuges of Iran’s nuclear power plants it was reported that Stuxnet had infected the Natanz Nuclear powerplant and the Bushehr nuclear powerplant in Iran. Earlier this year Ralph Langer while presenting at TED 2011 said “Fortunately, this weapon is in the safe hands of the USA” even then I commented to say
I shudder to think how naive Ralph might actually be to assume the self righteousness of the Americans. America since the end of the cold-war has assumed the role of superpower savior of the world and has been behaving like a trigger happy gun-totting cowboy ready to shoot anything & everything that so much as to even looks cross-eyed back at them. Repeatedly they have shown irresponsibility in the (mis)use of power and for them to not play around with this fun new toy is like holding a vintage bottle of whiskey in front of a deranged alcoholic. There shall be no stopping its “testing”
Hearing of these new reports of military commanders contemplating cyber attacks on various countries it must serve a stern warning that the new focus of future war games will be fought on the digital sphere. Once a system exists to a deployable level, there is in my opinion no stopping as to its utilization. The mere threat of potential cyber attacks as a tool to augment ground troops must alert all governments around the world to contemplate on securing their assets, and the best security is to make sure all critical systems exists behind natures best firewall, “Air” meaning none of the countries assets should be connected to any digital network of any sort, totally self contained and self reliant because its a foregone conclusion, there are no friends let alone allies.