2008: Many of the increasing number of
Cyber War skirmishes have been fought by mercenaries, or just private individuals
out to do some damage. A recent example occurred in Lithuania, after a law was
enacted prohibiting the display of symbols dating from the time when the
country was part of the Soviet Union. The Soviet period is much hated in
Lithuania, but still admired by many Russians. So over 300 Lithuanian web sites
were defaced by, apparently, pro-Soviet Russian hackers.
of Cyber War waged by non-government groups is becoming more frequent. In some
cases, when specific, and highly classified, data is taken, mercenary hackers
are believed to be responsible (at least in some cases), and carrying out
attacks paid for by a foreign government. It's better to use mercs, as that
makes a nasty diplomatic situation, not to mention retaliation, less likely.
But there are lots of skilled freelancers out there, who do not hesitate to
make war on their own. This could become a serious problem, especially if
people got killed (as in hacking a hospital or power plant), or some serious
physical damage was done.
these privateers, who often work for criminal gangs, has proved difficult. The
gangs are usually willing to work with the government, especially if some of
their other cyber crime activities are ignored. But many of these hackers are
virtually unreachable by the government. It is believed that China and Russia
have made a major effort to contact, and exercise some control, over the
hackers. China has established semi-official organizations for the hackers, and
appointed officials to act as liaison. That has not been a harmonious
arrangement, as many Chinese hackers are getting angry and the growing
government attempts to control Internet access.
fear, however, is that these freelance Cyber Warriors will start something the
government will have to finish, with more explosive weapons and large loss of