Information Warfare: August 3, 2003

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Cyberwar has become something of a myth. Everyone talks about it, but no one has actually been able to do it. Indian and Pakistani hackers are trying to change that. For the last four years, hackers from both countries have engaged in a slowly escalating cyberwar. Initially, the "attacks" were defacing web pages (exploiting flaws in the way the web page was configured to gain access to the server and replace the page with offensive material.) Last year, Indian hackers began unleashing viruses and worms against Pakistani sites. This is dangerous, for these nasties can easily spread far beyond their intended target. So far, the weapons used have been relatively low grade stuff. But many Pakistani government sites are poorly protected, and some servers have been taken down for days or weeks. The Pakistanis are threatening to retaliate, and one should not dismiss that threat. The first confirmed computer virus, in the late 1980s, came from Pakistan. So far this year, Pakistani retaliation has taken the form of increased web page defacing. Most of the damage done by either side has, so far, been the kind of stuff anyone could do using hacking tools widely available on the web. But there's fear that some software engineers who really know what they are doing could get involved, and cause more extensive damage. For the moment, the only one to gain anything out of this are the computer consultants who are called in to repair the more extensive damage. 

 


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