Cyber-Warfare refers to the politically motivated actions by a nation-state or international organisation to launch an attack with the intention of damaging or destructing information networks of another nation or group. As Simon Tisdall writes, cyber-warfare “typically involves the use of illegal exploitation methods on the internet, corruption or disruption of computer networks and software, hacking, computer forensics, and espionage.” It’s basically a cyber-battle over the internet, with the aim of destroying each side’s digital network and infrastructure.
One of the most recent examples of cyber warfare was when hacktivist group, Anonymous declared a war on the Islamic State. Following the terrorist attack on Paris in November 2015, Anonymous declared “war in Isis” by claiming that it would “launch the biggest operation ever against” it. Initially, the attacks started with shutting down the social media (such as Twitter) accounts and websites belonging to Islamic State leaders and those who support ISIS. For example, Anonymous reportedly removed more than 5500 Twitter accounts linked to Islamic State. Such action is helpful because ISIS supporters rely on social media and the internet to spread their messages and recruit more people. However, it has also been argued that this action can undermine and interfere with the work of authorities’ who are trying to combat ISIS. Nevertheless, in December 2015, Anonymous claimed that through its efforts, it had managed to stop an ISIS attack in Italy. As you can imagine, the Islamic State has hit back claiming that it would strike back. So there you go, looks like World War III is on it’s way on the Internet.
While Anonymous’ attack on the Islamic State can be viewed as a positive because its aiming to curb terrorist attacks which affect millions of people, it should nevertheless be noted that cyber-warfare can also be a threat to society, if it’s done with the intention of harming people. As Simon Tisdall writes:
“Cyber-warfare attacks on military infrastructure, government and communications systems, and financial markets pose a rapidly growing but little understood threat to international security and could become a decisive weapon of choice in future conflicts between states.”
Thus cyber-warfare can be good and bad depending on who launches the attack and with what intention they launch the attack.