The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of Us Warfare by James F. Dunnigan
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Dirty Little Secrets
NATO Threatens War With Russia
Discussion Board on this DLS topic
by James Dunnigan
June 3, 2007
NATO is being called on, by one of its members, to declare Cyber War on Russia. Russia is accused of causing great financial harm to Estonia via Cyber War attacks, and Estonia wants this sort of thing declared terrorism, and dealt with. NATO has agreed to discuss the issue and make a decision. That's big progress in this area.
Cyber Wars have been going on for over a decade now, and they are getting worse. It started in the 1990s, as individuals attacked the web sites in other nations because of diplomatic disputes. This was usually stirred up by some international incident. India and Pakistan went at it several times, and Arabs and Israelis have been trashing each others web sites for years. The Arabs have backed off somewhat, mainly because the Israeli hackers are much more effective. Chinese and Taiwanese hackers go at each other periodically, and in 2001, Chinese and American hackers clashed because of a collision off the Chinese coast between an American reconnaissance aircraft and a Chinese fighter.
In the last two years, these Cyber Wars have escalated from web site defacing and shutting down sites with massive amounts of junk traffic (DDOS attacks), to elaborate espionage efforts against American military networks. The attackers are believed to be Chinese, and some American military commanders are calling for a more active defense (namely, a counterattack) to deal with the matter.
The Russian attacks against Estonia are the result of Estonia moving a statue, honoring Russian World War II soldiers, from the center of the capital, to a military cemetery. The Estonians always saw the statue as a reminder of half a century of Russian occupation and oppression. Russia saw the statue move as an insult to the efforts of Russian soldiers to liberate Estonia, and enable the Russians to occupy the place for half a century. The basic problem here is that most Russians don't see their Soviet era ancestors as evil people, despite the millions of Russians and non-Russians killed by the Soviet secret police. The Russians are very proud of their defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, ignoring the fact that the Soviet government was just biding its time before it launched its own invasion of Germany and Europe in general.
While many Russians would have backed a military attack on Estonia, to retaliate for the insult by an ungrateful neighbor, this approach was seen as imprudent. Estonia is now part of NATO, and an attack on one NATO member is considered an attack on all. It's because of this Russian threat that Estonia was so eager to get into NATO. The Russians, however, believe that massive Cyber War attacks will not trigger a NATO response. They were so sure of this, that some of the early DDOS attacks were easily traced back to computers owned by the Russian government. When that got out, the attacks stopped for a few days, and then resumed from what appear to be illegal botnets. Maybe some legal botnets as well. Russian language message boards were full of useful information on how to join the holy war against evil Estonia. There's no indication that anyone is afraid of a visit from the Russian cyber-police for any damage they might do to Estonia. And the damage has been significant, amounting to millions of dollars so far. While no one has been injured, Estonia is insisting that this attack, by Russia, should trigger the mutual defense provisions of the NATO treaty. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. Either way, the results will be interesting.