Cyberwar and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Using New Technologies, from Espionage to Action

By Feil, Jessica A. | Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

Cyberwar and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Using New Technologies, from Espionage to Action


Feil, Jessica A., Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law


Abstract

Every country on the planet is constantly on the lookout for new strategies that will protect national security. The quest for new tools is as old as warfare itself. Hundreds of years ago, cannons were the height of technological development. Then improved guns, tanks, ships, and airplanes carrying missiles. Now the tools of national security seem to come straight from science fiction. American military and civilian national security agencies are frontrunners in developing cybertools that will help keep soldiers and operatives safe and provide a tactical advantage. These cyberweapons have been in development for decades. Some policymakers and academics call for new regulation or even prohibition of cyberweapons, both domestically and internationally. Such regulation would be short-sighted and reactionary. Cyberweapons offer significant range of utility. Properly written computer code ensures targets and goals are met accurately. New technologies offer precision unknown in previous weaponry. Cyberweapons are not the only new technology generating concern. Unmanned aerial vehicles are similarly critiqued. The American government has provided more expansive legal justifications .for drone campaigns abroad. The public information available about drone campaigns sheds light on how cyberweapons will fit into the twenty-first century national security universe.

CONTENTS

I.   INTRODUCTION

II.  BACKGROUND

     A. The Explosion of Unmanned Technologies at the Pentagon

     B. The Growth of Information Operations and Computer Networks as
        Defense Strategies

     C. The Jus in Bello and Jus ad Bellum Distinction

III. SURVEILLANCE AND INFORMATION GATHERING

     A. Flying Spies

     B. Desk Jockey Spies

     C. Cooperation Among States in Espionage Efforts

IV.  CYBERWAR AND UAV MISSIONS AMOUNTING TO FORCE

     A. In Conjunction with a Traditional Armed Attack

     B. As a Precursor to Armed Attack

V.   CYBERATTACKS AS AN INTERFERENCE TACTIC.

     A. Cyberwar as a Non-Covert Use of Force Not Amounting to Armed
         Attack

     B. Cyberwar in Covert Operations

VI. CONCLUSION

"But the fact of the matter is that cyber war is like Carl Sandburg's fog. It comes in on little cat feet, and it's hardly noticed. That's its greatest potential." (1)

--John Arquilla

I. INTRODUCTION

In 2010, the computer worm Stuxnet entered geopolitics by striking Iranian nuclear facilities. (2) Stuxnet caused critical uranium enrichment centrifuges to spin too quickly and break, all while reporting no errors to the monitoring system. (3) While this alone did not stop the Iranian nuclear weapon development program, it set it back at least a few months. (4) A year later, Stuxnet spawned Duqu, (5) a Trojan (6) bearing the same hallmarks of the Stuxnet code. (7) The United States and Israel eventually admitted to developing and launching Stuxnet. (8) In 2012, a computer security company identified Flame, which the United States and Israel also developed and launched prior to Stuxnet. (9) Flame infiltrated computers, spying on computer files and user actions, and laid the foundation for the later Stuxnet attack. (10) Two more computer viruses, Mahdi and Gauss, are currently spying on computers throughout the Middle East, including Ira. (11)

A few years earlier, in 2008, a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) struck and incapacitated the government website of Georgia. (12) The DDoS attack preceded Russia's armed invasion of Georgia. (13) Without government websites, communication was impossible, providing Russia a significant tactical advantage. (14) A year earlier, a DDoS attack, again originating in Russia, crippled the internet infrastructure of Estonia. (15) Estonia has a 97% high-speed internet penetration rate, so a disruption of access to web-based services was disastrous. (16) In both cases, the Russian government denied responsibility. (17)

These attacks are just some of the examples of the more successful and notorious cyber campaigns. …

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