What is it? Now and in the future, scores between competing world powers will increasingly be settled online, rather than on the conventional battlefield. Countries like the United States, China, and Russia are pouring billions into sophisticated cyber warfare programs.
Who’s doing what? The United States used cyber warriors to unseat former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein back in 2003. Later, Washington unleashed the Stuxnet computer virus on Iran’s nuclear program with devastating results. China’s People’s Liberation Army isn’t averse to adopting the same tactics, either, as can be seen in their recent writings on “network swarming warfare.” But it’s Russia’s activities in this fast developing field that has been getting the most attention. It recently formed a new army branch dedicated to waging information warfare. “Propaganda needs to be clever, smart and efficient,” said Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in reference to the shadowy new unit. Besides being accused of trying to influence the result of last year’s US presidential elections by hacking into the servers of the DNC, Moscow has also been charged with trying to influence national polls across Europe via direct cyber attacks and the dissemination of so-called fake news.
Cyber warfare is focused on the Internet at the moment. What comes next? Expect fast developing technology fields like artificial intelligence and robotics to attract the attention of army generals the world over very soon.