In the News April 23
U.S./NATO Conduct Massive Cyber Warfare Exercises
Biggest Profiteers and Executors of Cyber Warfare
When the U.S./NATO countries wage cyber warfare, it is called defensive. When attacks on infrastructure or facilities are attributed by them to Russia, they are called offensive. Operation Locked Shields was accompanied with noise that Russia is going to launch a major cyber war offensive. Despite this, nothing of the sort has materialized. What has taken place is the U.S./NATO countries shutting down access to Russian government and news agency sources thereby depriving thousands of people of ready access to information from those sources. This is not considered a violation because it is said to be defensive.
The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Internet Outage Detection and Analysis project, which measures internet outages internationally, reported that since the military conflict started, tests of internet services in Ukraine have shown a 16 per cent reduction in connectivity, compared with the weeks before the war started.
One of the biggest profiteers and executors of cyber warfare is Microsoft. Tom Burt, VP of Customer Security and Trust, is quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying that Microsoft has seen “at least one order of magnitude increase in the frequency and severity of the attacks since before the invasion.” “This is full-on, full-scale cyber war,” he said.
Another major war profiteer, Cisco Systems Inc, weighed in. The director of the company’s Talos cybersecurity division said, “We’re seeing B- or C-team players out of Russia. It’s fairly easy to track these folks — they are not overly creative.”
He was referring to the report of an attack on Ukraine’s major satellite internet service, Viasat, on February 24. Viasat is headquartered in the U.S. The attack resulted in the disabling of internet service. It is being probed by Ukrainian intelligence, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the French cybersecurity organization ANSSI. Viasat not only provides retail internet service, but also works as a defence contractor for the American government and has also contracted with the Ukrainian police and military. There is speculation that the attack was meant to disable “communications between ‘smart weapons’ systems deployed throughout the country.”
Viasat itself has retained U.S. cybersecurity firm Mandiant to assist with the investigation. The company, considered one of the most prominent in the field, recently announced it was being acquired by Google for $5.4 billion. Government sources have said that “modems were fried by a malicious update apparently prepared by hackers with access to some portion of Viasat’s network.”
A spokesperson for Mandiant, John Hultquist, said: “It’s increasingly clear that one of the reasons attacks in Ukraine have been moderated is because defenders there are very aggressive and very good at confronting Russian actors.” Whether attacks were indeed moderated or just followed another plan is not made clear.
For its part, the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations published an article in its Foreign Affairs journal on April 6 entitled “The Myth of the Missing Cyber War.” It claimed not only that “Russia’s hacking succeeded in Ukraine,” but also declared that “it poses a threat elsewhere, too.” The article bemoans the fact that a month after the Ukraine-Russia conflict began, “a host of prominent scholars and analysts of cyberconflict” have concluded that “Russia’s activities in cyberspace have been paltry or even non-existent.” It complains that these experts “have dismissed the role of cyber operations” and concluded that “Russia’s long-term cyber activity against Ukraine [falls] below the threshold of outright war.”
Visiongain, a U.K-based business intelligence company, published a market analysis projecting how much money will be made in the ever-growing field of cyberwarfare in the coming decade. It is a 390-plus page report, published in July 2021, entitled Global Military Cyber Security Market Report Forecast 2021-2031. It sells for $6,500.
According to the report’s promotional news release, the global military cybersecurity market was valued at $26.7 billion U.S. in 2021 and is projected to grow to $43.7 billion U.S. by 2031, representing a compounded annual growth rate of 5.4 per cent.
“Some of the major factors fueling the growth of global market,” the news release said, “includes rising investment in R&D activities, capitalization on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, IT and combat technologies.”
According to the report, “developed and emerging countries are investing massive amounts to enhance their military power. For instance, the U.S. has increased their military expense from U.S.$736.4 billion to U.S.$933.8 billion during the tenure of 2015-2021, while China has increased their military investment from $U.S.141 billion to U.S.$209 billion in the same term period. It says that “emerging countries” are enhancing their defence power “to demolish terrorist attacks.” It lists India, Australia and France as “emerging countries” It says such enhancement “in military bases and digitization of the equipment is augmenting the military cyber security market.”
The report provides “company snapshots” of the players in the market like Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland in the U.S. with annual revenues of U.S.$65.4 billion and 110,000 employees. Its “cyber capabilities,” are described as including “Cyber Hardening Weapons, Mission and Training Systems, outfitting Cyber Warriors with technologies for Offensive and Defensive Missions, advancing technologies that enable Cyber Operations, and helping the Intelligence Community collect, analyse and disseminate Threat Intelligence.”
Referring to a “competitive landscape” in the market, Visiongain says that the “global Military cybersecurity market is fragmented with several global and local players.” Some of the companies profiled in the report include BAE Systems Plc, General Dynamics Corporation, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Airbus Cybersecurity, Leonardo S.p.A., NetCentrics Corporation, Fujitsu Limited, CyberArk Software Ltd, Booz Allen Hamilton, Thales Group, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Cisco Systems Inc, CACI International Inc, and Atos SE.
The cyber war industry was particularly spurred by the U.S. Obama Administration’s declaration in 2009 that announced “cybersecurity” as one of the “urgent priorities.” At the time, prominent cyber war profiteer Raytheon posted want-ads on its website saying it was “answering [Obama’s] call by hiring more cyber warriors this year to help fight the digital cyber war.”
The ad laid out the job openings as “reverse engineers, kernel developers, and vulnerability and intrusion detection engineers.” It was also seeking a profession referred to as “media sanitation specialists.” Technology website, Wired, inquired at the time as to whether “media sanitization” referred to “media” as in hard-drives or “workers capable of spinning the company’s message to journalists.” Raytheon did not respond.
Within the context of the exploding new market, Wired reported that there had been a rash of defence contractors buying up smaller computer security companies to secure their share of the billions of U.S. military spending in the cyberwar sector. Big contractors, such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), were reported to have gobbled up the smaller firms.
It reported that Raytheon had purchased three computer network security firms (Oakley Networks, SI Government Solutions and Telemus Solutions Inc) in the previous two years to build up its cybersecurity capabilities, and announced plans to add 300 more security engineers to its stable in 2009.
(TML Daily, posted April 23, 2022)