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While people seek protection from crime, cyber-attacks often come preying upon us without our knowledge. Cyber-attacks are carried out by hackers whose identities remain unknown and are orchestrated from across borders, thus leaving the law enforcement authorities with no way to catch the culprits.
The best they can do is to develop counter-tactics to prevent these attacks. However, these tactics have now become a tool of warfare, coups, and political intrusions. While trying to keep cybercriminals at bay, governments across the world are using these criminal techniques to execute espionage, economic wars, and information theft to serve their own “national interests”. As cyber-attacks tend to become a military weapon, it seems there’d be no end to cybercrimes ever.
What are State-Sponsored Cyber Attacks?
In the time where intelligence and information are the key for a secure and prosperous government rule, cyber-attacks are not only left for hacking personal computers by criminals. The motives of these attacks have become political, and therefore, the tactics and techniques behind the cybercrimes are now used to target public offices, government departments, and the systems of government and intelligence officials or agents. If in any instance where these attacks on a national government are funded, ordered, and guided by an enemy state or country, they are termed as State-Sponsored Cyberattacks.
These attacks are not new trends and governments have been keen to invest in such operations to ensure that no enemy nation is plotting something against their interests and to collect any information regarding their enemy’s economic and military power, thus, keeping its intelligence updated.
Why States are Opting for Cyber Attacks?
Every single nation in this world has an enemy nation, with whom it has been entangled in conflicts at both political and military fronts. The opposing governments of these nations tend to hide their conflicts under the false pretense of peace talks and negotiations. However, at the back, they are required to stay one step ahead of the enemy to ensure an upper hand should ever the event of war arise.
But, nowadays, diplomacy has taken over and there are conventions and international bodies that work to prevent war between nations and maintain world peace. So, no government can launch warfare against the enemy upfront. Cybercrimes are hideous and are sometimes untraceable. Even if the attackers are identified, it can never be proved that the attacks have been administered by not criminals but the ruling enemy government. This factor anonymity and ambiguity draws governments to use cyber-attacks as a means of extracting information and abusing it to crumble enemies’ finances and political structures.
What can States Gain from these Attacks?
- Anonymity and unprecedented surveillance on the enemy nation are what any state desires the most from these attacks. By eyeing on their enemy, nations tend to maintain an advantage at a global level.
- These attacks can be used to cripple enterprises and financial institutions of the enemy nation. This directly has an impact on the targeted nation’s GDP, which, in turn, causes the government further troubles.
- State-sponsored cyber-attacks can give control of the targeted nation’s industrial and military technology, and therefore, can make it vulnerable at both economic and military fronts.
- These attacks avoid warfare, which can lead to global criticism for any state who fires the first shot. Since these attacks save property and life damage, they come-in cheap for the governments.
State-Sponsored Attacks as a Form of Cybercrime
Espionage has always been a part of intelligence and a major aspect in ensuring the national security of any state. With state-sponsored attacks, the acts of espionage are now being extended to newer levels. Cyber-attacks have allowed the states to conduct espionage without detection and without risking the lives and resources of their intelligence agents and agencies.
These attacks are not carried out ethically to target criminal organizations but are only conducted to monitor other nations and then use the gathered information to cripple their various public and private organizational networks. This surely lies in the category of crime against a state. The hackers that are hired by states to carry out these attacks tend to develop newer tactics and methodologies to do their jobs. And these tactics are surely passed on or adopted by criminals across the globe to use them as weapons.
Until the time cyber-attacks remain a tool for espionage, there’d be no end to the development of newer hacking technologies, and therefore there’d be no end to cybercrime itself.
Undetected Cyberterrorism Against People
States are not only using cyber-attacks to target enemy nations but are also monitoring their own citizens, thus, breaching their private lives. This is nothing but an act of terrorism against the citizens. The NSA Surveillance Program mentioned in Edward Snowden’s leaks is the biggest example of state-sponsored cyberterrorism. Under the pretense of protection, the governments have launched espionage against their own citizens. And these attempts have violated civil rights and interests of the citizens. Until the cybercrimes are conducted by governments themselves, and that too against their own people, cybercrime will keep prevailing.
Cybercrime has impacted personal and professional lives of all sorts of people and organizations across the globe. From glorifying terrorism to indulging in information abuse for promoting pornography, financial crimes, and trafficking, cybercrime has taken many forms. With states sponsoring a number of such attacks to target enemy nations have escalated cyberterrorism and cybercrime to another level. And this has done nothing but devise new plans and methodologies to promote cybercrime further. How do you think a government will end cybercrime until it does not stop finding newer ways to do so for fulfilling its own interests?