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Cyberforces: a necessity dictated by time
Material posted: Publication date: 15-08-2010

Cyberterrorism and other cyber threats to the modern state where information systems and communications take more and more dominant infrastructure role and become a serious test of strength. The increase in critical nodes, which may be a remote attack and destroy the infrastructure of entire countries, forcing many countries to think in the direction of create cyberarmies, capable of protecting a virtual country.

Today a small group of cyberterrorists can cause significant damage to the most important public structures at the national level. With the rapid growth of technologies and their involvement in the management of strategically important structures, the number of vulnerabilities is growing disproportionately faster than the capabilities of government agencies to deal with possible threats.

So, in February of this year American non-profit organization Bipartisan Policy Center1 conducted an experiment, during which tried to find out how vulnerable the US economy to attack from hackers. The results were unexpectedly negative. For "attack" on the network of state institutions was used only 230 personal computers of the participants of the experiment. That was enough to paralyze the computers responsible for electricity of the country in a matter of minutes. The researchers then carried out a similar attack on a cellular network: the mobile device subscribers were infected with viruses, and then smartphones started intensively to consume data traffic. Eventually this led to widespread failures of base stations and the fall of mobile networks. Experts at the Bipartisan Policy Center claim that if hackers set a goal to hit the U.S. and will do so with maximum efficiency, 40 million Americans on the East of the country will remain without electricity after 30 minutes after start of "occurrence". Will be a little over an hour and 60 million mobile subscribers in the country will see that their phones are turned into non-performing "trinkets". In order to paralyze the work of Wall Street, you will need just a few hours2.

The number of attacks on commercial and state structures grows from year to year. In 2009. 75% of companies experienced a cyber attack, losing on average $2 million these Are the results of a global study of corporate security held by Symantec. The survey, conducted among CIOs, heads of departments of information security and it managers from 27 countries shows the increasing activity of cyber criminals in the corporate sector at the global level. In the past year, 75% of companies faced with cyber attacks, and 36% identified as high-impact attacks for attackers. Moreover, 29% of respondents said that in the past year the attacks became more frequent3.

For the US and EU protection of cyberspace is becoming a priority requiring structural changes in the security agencies. A signal to the fact that cyber defense requires a systematic approach, began attacks on Estonia in spring 2007. After the fall of the Estonian networks under attack (presumably Russian hackers, probably under control of the military), authorized Tallinn was forced to turn to NATO for help. The attack on Estonia was the occasion for a global review of the overall strategy on cyber defence from NATO.

Expert research has led to qualitative changes in the attitude of NATO. In early June of the current year were distributed to expert opinion. The North Atlantic Treaty organization is considering the use of military force against enemies who are organizing cyber attacks against member States of the Alliance. The most dangerous from this point of view, countries are Russia and China.

Recommendations for use of armed forces against the organizers of cyberwoman was made by a group of experts of the Alliance led by the former U.S. Secretary of state Madeleine Albright. "The next attack on NATO countries will follow over fiber optic cable", – stated in made by specialists of the report.

The paper notes that cyber-terrorism pose a risk to infrastructure, comparable to an armed attack, therefore, requires the appropriate response. "Large-scale cyber attack on control systems or energy servers NATO readily admits the use of retaliatory measures under paragraph 5 of the Charter of the North Atlantic Alliance", – said the expert4.

This approach from NATO brings cyberwar one level with traditional military clashes. In the future this will be the basis for review of military strategy and structural changes in the defence systems.

On such changes is already possible to speak as about what is happening at this time. So, the U.S. takes the protection of its virtual area in a separate structure. In addition, in the power structures of the USA, there are separate departments responsible for cyber security, the U.S. Navy on 26 January 2010. created cyberforces. Created CYBERFOR (about 14 thousand military and civilian in the state5) are in direct subordinate command of the U.S. Navy and will work in conjunction with the service information security Navy NETWARCOM. The duties of CYBERFOR is cryptographic work, information exploration, information support, protection from attacks via the Internet and using the enemy of high technology. In addition, the new troops will be doing and space operations that will be implemented to support the U.S. Navy on land and on water6.

Today technologically developed countries come to a logical development of their power structures – to the creation of specialized forces that can resist to coordinated attacks on cyberspace of the country, and inflict a retaliatory strike against the infrastructure of a potential enemy.

Conclusions for Armenia

For Armenia infrastructure vulnerability to remote cyber attacks is not as high as for USA or EU countries. At the same time, the introduction of information technologies in various infrastructure Armenia is already evident, and in the coming years, it is possible to predict large-scale structural changes that will lead to the emergence of vulnerable hosts.

Armenia is already exposed to periodic attacks by the Azerbaijani and Turkish hacker groups. To date, their activity does not seriously damage the country. Especially considering the fact that public servers are now under the protection of the National Security Service. At the same time, for example, the escalation of the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh could lead to an intensification of the attacks on the Armenian segment of the Internet, which may cause serious deformations in the information field.

This should take into account that Armenia is potentially a target, not just for hostile States or terrorist groups, and criminal groups can pursue purely materialistic goals – for example, attacks on financial networks in the country.

The creation of cyberarmies for Armenia today is a necessity as the cyberspace is almost not protected against large-scale attack on the perceived enemy. In fact, there is not a single structure, which is obliged to protect the cyber space of the country from serious threats and have appropriate opportunities. Meanwhile, the need to solve this problem are already evident.

Cyberforces will need not only to interact with the intelligence agencies and forces electronic warfare. In the period of possible escalation of the conflict cyberforces must ensure the protection of the Armenian information field. Also they should put the task to suppress Internet activity of the enemy in time of armed conflict, in cooperation with advocacy agencies.

The negative aspect of the lack of such coordinated structures clearly visible during the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008. Then a massive cyber attack on Georgian segment of the Internet has led to a sharp decrease of information activity Georgia, and Russia got serious advantage in the propaganda war, which had a decisive impact on the course of the war as a whole.

At the same time, the delay in the creation of such a structure, capable to solve tasks on protection of cyberspace of the country, will complicate its development because of high rates of development of information technologies and dynamic change related threats.








Samvel Martirosyan


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