With the increasing number of cyberattacks, many security professionals are greatly troubled by the real threat to the information technology infrastructure in the United States. While safeguarding information has been a major issue for the private and public sectors since the beginning of the computer era, the increased level of concern over the most recent attacks has resulted in devoting more resources to combat this threat. This paper analyzes numerous cyberattacks by Russian computer enthusiast group Chaos Hackers Crew and other hacktivists during Operation Allied Force in 1999, that included taking down and defacing various NATO and US Government websites, several successful virus propagation attempts on military servers and countless spamming storms. This particular case raises curious questions about the legal definition of term cyberconflict itself, magnitude of the damage from a potential cyberattack on U.S. Government by terrorists and the level of preparedness of key military and intelligence units for the cyberwar. The cyberterrorism threat is real, however it’s essential to recognize that preserving the state of continuous distress over computer vulnerabilities can be profitable. Based on this research, cultural differences play a huge role in the world of computer hackers who decide what entity to attack and how, also the scale of a cyberattack doesn’t matter as economic damage can be devastating regardless of its size. Global governments need to continue working on creating workable laws that accurately describe the problem of cyberattacks and effectively enforce the solution. The modern world still has a long way to go before all security threats are addressed, appropriate defence is in place and all the critical computer infrastructure is protected from hackers, “hacktivists” and plain criminals.
As a computer professional and a native Russian, I have a personal interest in conducting research on the ongoing cyber-conflict between countries that represent some of the major players in today’s computerized war arena, Russia and the United States of America being only the two of them. I do remember the bombings of Belgrade in 1999 and the nationwide outrage that followed those attacks. As a brother-slavic nation we all wanted to support Yugoslavia on its way to the independence and craved revenge against NATO and its evil allies. Looking back at that situation I realize all of us were exposed to a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation and manipulation by government and government-owned news media, that was pursuing a hidden political and military agenda. Later on in life when I became involved in Information Technology and have worked in the field for several years, I started to understand the technical background of those hacker attacks. I do not wish to defend any member of the Chaos Hackers Crew, nor do I want to defend or offend anyone else associated with the Operation Allied Force.
So called “first world countries” with well-developed economies, that heavily rely on computers and technology, are not the only ones under the pressure from global cyber-threat trends. According to MessageLabs Intelligence 2008 Annual Security Report (Emerging markets at greater risk of cybercrime, 14 January, 2009) developing countries, such as Brazil, India, China are at even higher risk of exposing themselves to cyber-threats, and could potentially become the next launchpad for the next cyber-attack against the United States. As Internet access penetrates deeper into the emerging market and World Wide Web becomes more readily available in those place where computers are cheap enough, technical education appeals to the highest standards, but laws or other roadblocks are not in place yet to prevent the cybermafia from appearing and thriving, more and more problems arise in countries like Turkey, China and Russia, where botnets are...