Remember the famous computer worm Stuxnet? Although neither the U.S. nor Israel has openly admitted responsibility, just over a decade ago, Stuxnet, reportedly a joint creation the two countries, destroyed nearly one-fifth of Iran’s operating centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear power. The bug—later understood to be “the world’s first digital weapon”—was thought to have slowed Iran’s nuclear program by up to two years.

Stuxnet was just the beginning. According to the New York Times, the U.S. also had plans for a cyberattack to disable Iran’s power grid, air defenses, and communications systems in the event of military conflict over its nuclear program, though the plans were never carried out.

We should expect cyberattacks to become a staple of military arsenals in 2022 and beyond. Nation states will look for vulnerabilities in government and critical infrastructure as an alternative to warfare, or as part of it. Kinetic efforts will be preceded by cyberattacks similar to a naval bombardment prior to launching a beach assault in WWII.

The tools, techniques, and procedures used in ransomware attacks are perfectly poised to become a central part of warfare, as it’s low cost and low risk.

Some countries already have created official government bodies, such as the National Cyber Force in the UK, where cyber hackers and analysts will work alongside traditional military operations “with potential scenarios including operators hacking into enemy air defences.” Going forward, this will become standard procedure.

Attacking governments or critical infrastructure—via ransomware or other cyber techniques—means attacking everyday citizens in a way that is not as directly lethal as drone strikes or other attacks, but that can still be extremely effective in causing harm and destruction to dictate political outcomes or cause discontent and sow confusion. State and local governments are particularly vulnerable. They often don’t have the cybersecurity budget or technology in place to prevent and respond to ransomware, and typically pay for ransomware without addressing the issue. Approximately one-third of local governments recently surveyed by cybersecurity firm Sophos reported falling victim to ransomware in the past year, and that figure is sure to expand based on the opportunity available and lack of risk to the attackers.

Smart cities are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks, as the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre recently warned. As more aspects of a traditional city—from transportation to lights to resource management—are connected to the Internet, the more they are at risk of cyber disruption. Connectivity breeds convenience for service consumers, but also for attackers. Earlier this year, a ransomware attack on the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation Smart City in India infected nearly 25 of its project servers. According to the Economic Times, this was the first known cyberattack on a smart city. But it likely won’t be the last.

In 2022, more nation states will find vulnerabilities in smart cities, other aspects of government, and critical infrastructure, and use them to forward their national interests. While there is growing awareness of this trend, little has been done to interrupt it. NATO member states, the European Union, and Five Eyes nations have condemned Chinese cyberattacks, including a hack of Microsoft Exchange. Tech leaders have called for the creation of a “digital Geneva Convention,” per the New York Times, “that would mandate restraint in the exercise of cyberweapons and prevent the sabotaging of civilian infrastructure.”

The situation could also evolve as governments and governing bodies, from the Security and Exchange Commission to the Biden Administration, increase their regulatory oversight of cyber. But the bottom line remains the same. Cyberattacks will become a standard component of the military arsenal, with governments and critical infrastructure in the crosshairs.

If this information is helpful to you read our blog for more interesting and useful content, tips and guildelines on similar topics. Contact the team of COMPUTER 2000 Bulgaria now if you have a specific question. Our specialists will be asiisting you with your query.

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