Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Society and Education

On the Offense: Using Cyber Weapons to Influence Cognitive Behavior

Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Society and Education

On the Offense: Using Cyber Weapons to Influence Cognitive Behavior

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

There is an increasing recognition that cyber warfare is an important area of development for targeting and weaponeering, with far-reaching effects in national defense and economic security. The ability to conduct effective operations in cyberspace relies on a robust situational awareness of events occurring in both the physical and information domains, with an understanding of how they affect the cognitive domain of friendly, neutral, and adversary population sets. The dynamic nature of the battlefield complicates efforts to understand shifting adversary motivations and intentions. There are very few approaches, to date, that systematically evaluate the effects of the repertoire of cyber weapons on the cognitive, perceptual, and behavioral characteristics of the adversary. In this paper, we describe a software environment called Cognitive Cyber Weapon Selection Tool (CCWST) that simulates a scenario involving cyber weaponry.

This tool provides the capabilities to test weapons which may induce behavioral state changes in the adversaries. CCWST provides the required situational awareness to the Cyber Information Operations (IO) planner to conduct intelligent weapon selection during weapon activation in order to induce the desired behavioral change in the perception of the adversary. Weapons designed to induce the cognitive state changes of deception, distraction, distrust and confusion were then tested empirically to evaluate the capabilities and expected cognitive state changes induced by these weapons. The results demonstrated that CCWST is a powerful environment within which to test and evaluate the impact of cyber weapons on influencing cognitive behavioral states during information processing.

Keywords: Cyber Warfare, Cognitive Warfare, Cognitive Cyber Weapon Selection Tool, Distraction, Deception, Confusion, Deceit

INTRODUCTION

Either driven by political, personal or monetary motives, computer hackers create havoc in cyber space by stalling online activities using tactics which are difficult to anticipate and defend. A recent threat to information and network security was witnessed in a series of attacks by the hacker group "AnonOps" in retaliation for Julian Assange's case of Swedish extradition. This group attracted thousands of individuals through Twitter, Facebook, online forums, chat groups etc.; one could download software from their website that could turn any normal Windows or Macintosh Computer into a weapon to launch a full scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack (Georgina & Pelofsky, 2010). Their targets were Visa and MasterCard, the world's most reputed credit card payment companies. Attack on these corporate websites has raised new questions about credit and personal information and online safety.

According to a report by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC), there were almost 336,655 complaints submitted to ICCC and a total dollar loss of $559.7 million for the year 2009. There is, therefore, a critical need to defend cyber-attacks, which have become an expensive menace for online businesses. According to the CSI Computer Crime and Security Survey (2008), as we move towards a business-oriented web, it is imperative to develop and estimate possible future cyber attacks. In the Department of Defense, cyber warfare is an important area of development for targeting and weaponeering, with far-reaching effects in national defense and economic security (Hutchinson & Warren, 2001).

Cyber attackers have a wide plethora of weapons to choose from, and the intensity and effect of an attack generally depends on the motives of the attacker. Every system is inherently susceptible to vulnerabilities, and the knack of a hacker often lies in identifying and exploiting these vulnerabilities effectively. In a real-world cyber warfare scenario, the attacker has the "swift attack" advantage. The unsuspecting cyber administrator is often caught by surprise, and the attack generally doesn't last for more than a couple of minutes, which makes it hard to track down the attacker or to initiate incident response. …

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