Photo: Illustrative photo: Reuters and Marc Israel Sellem
Cyber Warfare is fast becoming a dominant element in every developed country’s military arsenal.
By JPOST EDITORIAL
Judging from the slew of news over the past week or so, the field of cyber warfare is fast becoming a dominant element in every developed country’s military arsenal.
In a span of just a few days there has been a flurry of news items related to cyber warfare: the anti-virus firm Kaspersky discovered that Iran’s nuclear program was struck again, this time by Flame, which effectively turns every computer it infects into a spy; The New York Timesreported that the US and Israel were behind the Stuxnet worm, which also attacked Iran’s nuclear program; NATO held its Fourth International Conference on Cyber Conflict; and Israel hosted its own conference on cyber warfare at Tel Aviv University.
Indeed, there is good reason for the rising interest – and deployment – of cyber warfare. After all, there are many appealing aspects to cyber warfare.
Instead of wreaking mass destruction and snuffing out human life, countries can instead attack virtual targets in cyberspace. An aggressor state does not need to expose its own troops to the dangers of conventional or unconventional warfare, thus avoiding casualties and the difficulty Western societies have coping with these casualties. And since cyber weapons can be deployed anonymously from a distance, the aggressor often does not risk political fallout let alone absorbing a retaliatory attack.
Indeed, cyber warfare seems so bloodless and “clean” that there hardly appear to be any real ethical dilemmas with which to grapple.
Just War Theory, based on Judeo-Christian moral principles and Western moral philosophy, is concerned with limiting human casualties and physical damage.
When warfare is waged using a piece of code against some intangible objects, without directly causing casualties or physical damage, the anthropocentric principles of Just War Theory hardly seem to apply.
Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to claim that cyber warfare can be conducted without a consideration of its moral limits. For instance, if it knocks out electricity and the refrigeration necessary to protect supplies, even a modest cyber attack could lead to starvation and the suffering of thousands of innocent. Continue reading