War in Cyberspace
DK Matai, Chairman & CEO of mi2g, outlined some of the major elements
of Cyber-warfare in a talk on 22 October to the Real Time Club. The following
are some extracts from his speech.
Monday, 3rd December 2001 Cyberspace encompasses
digital systems, communication channels and media including television, radio,
eMail, telephone and connected computer and mobile devices. Cyberspace has
unified people regardless of where they are. In Cyberspace people sharing
a common faith can meet, exchange ideas and plan ways regardless of whether
they are, for example, in Jakarta, Islamabad, Teheran, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo
Cyberwarfare’s first pivot is as a community fragmenter / propaganda machine
In the battle for hearts and minds, the Al-Jazeera satellite channel is able
to reach Muslims anywhere in the world that have access to satellite broadcast.
Cyberwarfare’s second pivot is attack and counter-attack on digital systems.
The damage that an asymmetric electronic attack can do to our industrialised
society is greater than what could be inflicted on a developing or under-developed
Hackers in many Islamic countries including Pakistan declared a cyber jihad
on the US and Britain last week, only days after the FBI issued a warning
predicting as much. Also last week, Pakistani hacker group G-Force defaced
the site of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center,
part of the US Department of Commerce, leaving a message promising more of
the same type of attacks.
The day before yesterday, G-Force Pakistan defaced a site operated by the
US Department of Defense (DoD) with a message about terrorism and Islam, The
message on the DoD site – Defense Test & Evaluation Processional Institute
(DTEPI) – posted by G-Force "We will not rest till every node, every line,
every bit of information contained in our suppressors has been wiped out,
returning them to the dark ages."
The focus of UK and US defence has been on the physical dimensions – land,
sea, air and outer space – and not on cyberspace.
Cyber warfare poses threats directly to lower level infrastructure in all
government departments and commercial institutions. The expertise needed against
such threats requires expertise that is relatively fast moving and cannot
be ‘trained’ into people over a short period of time.
The single biggest failing of Western Intelligence Agencies in not having
picked up the 11th September attacks is their fragmented electronic intelligence
gathering systems, which have no capability to unify knowledge management
It is an Herculean task to collect, sift, analyse and act on this intelligence
data if the key pieces of knowledge are not to be missed. This cannot be done
manually and we need really smart technology solutions to help us.
If the threat and targets are international, the Allied countries’ knowledge
management and analysis systems handling intelligence data need to be able
to talk to each other. This has not been true for Agencies even within the
same country, especially the US, who up until now jealously guard information
that they collect themselves.
Protection and civil liberties – loss of privacy
In order to reassure its citizens, the government needs to act and be seen
to reassure its people and be seen to deploy a series of counter measures.
Individual freedom and protection through security always carries a trade
When it comes to the issue of mass identification, we have to begin with
something that people carry such as a Passport, Driving License or business
ID card and something that they know such as a password or specific knowledge.
This needs to be coupled with something that they are – such as their fingerprint
- to tighten security.
A lot has been said about Smart ID Cards and Biometric security since 11th
September. The truth is that biometric security – fingerprint recognition,
facial recognition, voice recognition - is not 100% accurate. It can only
be used as an adjunct and not the mainstay.
The whole issue of authentication, confidentiality, data integrity and non-repudiation
of bona fide presence, communications and transactions is a critical issue
and has to be solved through a multi-pronged approach.
The next question to consider is how does one deploy people with the Knowledge
Management and Analysis Tools to outsmart the malevolent people who are one
step ahead and constantly figure out ways to outsmart the system?
The reality is that 70% of all complex attacks take place through insider
knowledge. and assistance and not political activists who go it alone. More
attention needs to be given to the value of human intelligence, where the
information is collected in situ at the grass roots level. When guaranteeing
the security of large digital systems the only way forward is to combine knowledge
management and analysis tools with human intelligence via managed security
The full text of DK Matai’s speech is available at: firstname.lastname@example.org