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The Dark Sides of the Internet

On Cyber Threats and Information Warfare

Roland Heickerö

The rapid development in information technology during the last few decades has not only given us greater opportunities to freely search for information and contacts. The growth of the Internet has also created new opportunities for criminal organisations, political activists and terrorists to threaten individuals, companies and countries. Individuals and organisations are also increasingly the targets of attacks and espionage via the web. There are various kinds of illegitimate and criminal activities. Every modern state thus has to create strategies and courses of action in order to protect information, networks and computers that are vital to society from malicious cyber activities. Creating secure systems and minimising risks of information being leaked or tampered with should be a prioritised task. It is also important to understand what threats arise from the information technological revolution. The purpose of this book is to give a broad background to the development of the dark side of the internet and its consequences. It is not about scaremongering, but about creating understanding and knowledge and thus preparedness in order to handle detrimental activities. It describes the changes in progress and what they may mean to society, companies and individuals as well as to the military and police.

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The need for a treaty in cyberspace

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Comparing cyber weapons and weapons of mass destruction, as some Rus- sian analysts have done, is quite drastic. If a country that believes itself to be under the threat of a cyber attack were to resort to a deterrence strategy, this would lead to a dangerous escalation of the situation, especially bear- ing in mind that it is very easy to conceal digital traces and mislead adver- saries in cyberspace. Such a development could, in a short period of time, lead to an unpleasant situation that would be hard to control or manage, with more or less uninten- tional escalations. In view of the cyber attacks against Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008, there is a growing concern that different kinds of activists could and would carry out large-scale and co-ordinated cyber operations against vital targets. A number of questions have to be answered: Is the response to a potential cyber operation a task for law enforcement agencies, or a matter for the military or some other organisation?308 Should it be carried out and resolved on national level or internationally? And with what means? According to UN Article 51 every nation has the right to protect itself against armed attacks. Is this the case in cyberspace, too? How should phenomena such as cyber terrorism, cyber crime and cyber espionage be handled? One tricky issue is how to deal with non-state hackers involved in every aspect of cyber aggression while providing plausible deniability to the host governments. For instance,...

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