Sunday, May 07, 2006

Drive-by Shootings in the Cyberhood

I have noted that the many private individuals who have hacker skills could in effect conduct their own foreign adventures while in their pajamas. These cyberbooters could attack nations they identify as enemies for fun or profit much like 19th century freebooters played in Central America or in the manner that the Irish in America plotted to take over British Canada.

The Chinese in their cyber-war efforts have enlisted their own private citizens in a cyber-militia to help make sure they fight for Chinese interests.

The implication that should have been obvious to me which was not, is the possibility that these private cyber-warriors will wage war not against states but against other private entities. Says Strategypage:

While everyone talks about Cyber War, some non-military organizations have gone ahead and started one. An Israeli firm, Blue Security, came up with a novel way to discourage spammers from sending spam to Blue Security customers. Once a company signs up with Blue Security, any spammer that hits that customer with
unsolicited email, gets a flood of "no-thank-you" messages from Blue Security. This tends to clog the web sites of the spammers, and they don't like this at all. Blue Security has over half a million customers, and spammers are asked to not spam these customers, using a "no-not-spam" list Blue Security makes available. So some of the spammers are retaliating by trying to shut down the web sites of Blue Security customers, as well as the Blue Security site.

We don't take kindly to private entities waging war against each other with conventional weapons. As warfare increasingly enters the online world, we should not think of private cyber-warfare with any less concern and seriousness. Would we consider it just a matter of business if Brinks Security sent out hit teams to target criminals who have attempted to rob Brinks-protected companies? Would we shrug if criminals targetted Brinks employees to undermine Brinks' efforts to protect their clients?

But this will get ugly and require a really public loss of life--perhaps innocent bystanders--in this new security front before governments seriously try to crack down on what is undoubtedly a growing trend.