What is cyber war?

   Cyberwar is a form of war which takes places on computers and the Internet, through electronic means rather than physical ones. Cyber-warfare, as it is also known, is a growing force in the international community, and many nations regularly run cyberwar drills and games so that they are prepared for genuine attacks from their enemies. With an increasing global reliance on technology for everything from managing national electrical grids to ordering supplies for troops, cyberwar is a method of attack which many nations are vulnerable to.

In cyberwar, people use technological means to launch a variety of attacks. Some of these attacks take a very conventional form. Computers can be used, for example, for propaganda, espionage, and vandalism. Denial of service attacks can be used to shut down websites, silencing the enemy and potentially disrupting their government and industry by creating a distraction. Cyberwar can also be utilized to attack equipment and infrastructure, which is a major concern for heavily industrialized nations which rely on electronic systems for many tasks.

Using advanced skills, people can potentially get backdoor access to computer systems which hold sensitive data or are used for very sensitive tasks. A skilled cyberwarrior could, for example, interrupt a nation's electrical grid, scramble data about military movements, or attack government computer systems. Stealthier tactics might involve creating systems which can be used to continually gather and transmit classified information directly into the hands of the enemy or using viruses to interrupt government computer systems.
As with other forms of warfare, each development in cyberwar leads nations to develop numerous counterattacks and defenses to protect themselves, and these developments spur enemies on to create more sophisticated attack options. The arms race of the computer world makes it impossible for nations to stop investing in cyberwar research. Civilian computing actually benefits from some research, as governments may release safety patches and other techniques to civilians to keep them safe from attacks over the Internet and through computer systems.

For warriors, cyberwarfare is significantly less deadly than conventional war, because people can be located far from the front lines in heavily secured facilities. Cyberwarriors are active in many regions of the world, continuously scanning computer systems for signs of infiltrations and problems, and proactively addressing issues like propaganda. Students in military colleges can choose cyberwar as a focus and area of specialty, and rival colleges often hold competitive games and challenges with each other to test their cyberwarriors.


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