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State sponsored hackers and the digital battlefield

Analysis: Wars are now not only fought by traditional means, but have expanded into the digital realm. Many countries have now added digital hacking operations to their battle plans, and some have even created units specifically for this purpose. Billions of dollars are being spent by governments to maintain their supremacy in cyber space. Governments are using both cyber professionals in the military, as well as non-military hacking groups.

Areas of Interest: Worldwide

Impact: State sponsored hacking is nothing new, and you probably already know about it. The Sony hack (North Korea), the Office of Personnel Management hack (China), and even Russia has been accused of breaking into DNC servers and releasing information prior to the last election to influence the results. In simple terms, state-sponsored hacking is cyber-crime that is committed with the authorization of a country’s government against another government or entity from another country. Stuxnet was a huge state sponsored hack that ruined almost 1/5 of Iranian nuclear centrifuges. It was later revealed to have been done by America and Israel. Many of the top powers of the world engage in cyber-espionage against one another, including China, Israel, France, Syria and the U.S. So how does state sponsored hacking affect you? Many of these attacks target companies and infrastructure that we rely on, such as gas pipelines or electric grids, and in fact are happening now. This type of attack would have an undeniable impact on average citizens, and drives home the point that this is a type of cyber-crime you should be aware of. Some of the most alarming recent events that are being investigated as possible hacks by adversaries are the recent rash of US naval ship accidents. We have also seen reports of GPS spoofing (faking a GPS position). The US government imposed sanctions on Russia and expelled diplomats over the accusations of hacking and election tampering. Nation states are after intellectual property, business secrets, defense information, etc. They really are not interested in your email. This does not mean that you should let your guard down. You should always take security precautions when you are online.

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