Geopolitics and Cyber: A New War?

This week, I was interview by Fox Business on how hacktivism takes center stage when geopolitical tensions rise. (Geopolitical Tensions Invade Cyberspace, March 11, Fox Business)

In the interview, we discussed how groups and actors that are against state-run edicts, policies and the like take to the web to quickly mobilize and then antagonize and disrupt their adversaries. They leverage online outlets such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social media properties as their platform to denounce who they’re against and why.

Effective? Somewhat. A group calling itself “CyberBerkut” posted pejorative comments on its Facebook page against “political traitors” and listed a number of websites they were targeting. At the time of this writing, some seem to have fared well against this purported attack with only a few sites appearing to be down.

Will it end? Not anytime soon. As long as there are two opposing forces with different views, you will have this sort of geopolitical/cyber disruption. When the New York Times ran an investigative story in 2012 on the relatives of China’s Prime Minister, the news organization was hacked. And, just last month, the Syrian Electronic Army hacked into in retaliation for editorial content it published on Syria.

These attacks can be considered a new way to wage war. They are relatively low in cost with a zero attrition rate of troops. As the uprising in Syria started to escalate, the Pentagon and NSA developed plans that included cyber-attacks against the Syrian military. This of course, prompted SEA to post several tweets, essentially drawing a line in the sand and threatening with its own attacks.


There is no doubt that opposition in political views have been around since the dawn of time. However, when you mix in the power of the internet – and hold the right recipe for disaster, what you have at your fingertips is a very powerful concoction.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the current state of cyberattacks, I invite you to download the recent report written by our Emergency Response Team here.

Carl Herberger

Carl is an IT security expert and responsible for Radware’s global security practice. With over a decade of experience, he began his career working at the Pentagon evaluating computer security events affecting daily Air Force operations. Carl also managed critical operational intelligence for computer network attack programs to aid the National Security Council and Secretary of the Air Force with policy and budgetary defense. Carl writes about network security strategy, trends, and implementation.

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