The Russian army is preparing for war in cyberspace

Cyberspace is rapidly becoming a central arena for future wars. Source: PhotoXPress

Cyberspace is rapidly becoming a central arena for future wars. Source: PhotoXPress

The defence ministry’s decision to create a specialised network command to handle cyber conflicts is justified and timely.

Cyberspace is rapidly becoming, if not a battlefield in the direct sense of the word, then a central arena for future wars. In this context, the decision by the Russian Ministry of Defence to create a specialised network command is justified and timely.

According to media reports, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu recently gave the General Staff several months to make proposals on the creation of an army cyber command. Izvestia, citing sources in the General Staff, reported that if the proposal is presented on time, a basic level cyber command will appear by the end of the year.

 “But in any case, this won’t be some enormous bureaucratic military office with a bunch of rights and no liabilities,” Izvestia quoted its source as saying.

President Putin had previously ordered the Federal Security Service to protect the information structures of Russian state authorities against possible network attacks.

This is nothing new for the armies of developed nations. Back in 2007, the US Air Force established a temporary special command responsible for dealing with “hostilities” in the global network. Currently, the Americans operate a permanent unified command named the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), which is subordinate to United States Strategic Command and responsible for the use of strategic nuclear forces, ABM system and space operations.

That was a far-sighted decision by the US military. The network covers all continents and currently identifies the key parameters of the operation of modern society – from the payment of wages to controlling troops. There’s already a “matrix” that is involved in the takeoff and landing of every plane, the operation of every industrial facility and transfer of any army unit. The control of the network is virtually priceless.

According to recent reports, the US plans to increase the USCYBERCOM staff to 5000 specialists.

Commenting on international cyber security, Head of EEMEA Research Centre at Kaspersky Lab Sergey Novikov said in an interview with Voice of Russia radio station: “You can’t do without adequate protection of cyberspace at the state level. In the past two or three years, computer viruses have reached a whole new level of national security and cyber wars. Computer viruses are no longer those infecting home computers, but a serious threat to crucial state facilities. The high-profile cyber scandals of the last two or three years include the Stuxnet worm, Duqu, Flame and Gauss Trojans. These are examples of cyberweapons that countries use against each other.

“Stuxnet is an example of a malicious code targeted exclusively against critical infrastructure, specifically, uranium enrichment facilities,” Novikov added.

That was the first ever case when viruses and malicious codes targeted critical infrastructure, according to Novikov .It wasn’t the last one, though. Kaspersky Lab has recently identified a purely cyber-espionage virus dubbed Red October, which attacked networks of government agencies and defence research centres around the globe.

 “The current level of development in telecommunications, electronics and computer software and their growing role in the management of infrastructure and social systems on the one hand and the vast potential for the creation of malicious software on the other, call for efforts to take information security to a new systemic level. This level envisages the capability to repel cyber-sabotage, cyber terrorism and, ultimately, cyber warfare,” says Dmitry Troshin, leading research associate at the Institute for Economic Security and Strategic Planning at the Finance University.

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