By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
The threat of a real war with Russia still hangs in the air, but one academic believes a cyber-attack is a more likely scenario. A silent, but digitally destructive scenario, which could cause chaos across the globe, adversely affecting the UK.
Cyberwarfare is politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. It is a form of information warfare sometimes seen as analogous to conventional warfare.
Professor Mike Jackson – computer security expert at Birmingham City University said: “As EU governments discuss ways in which they can toughen up sanctions against Russia today, they need to be mindful of the ways in which Russia could retaliate.”
“Traditionally the response to sanctions has been the denial of essential supplies to those imposing the sanctions (for example ceasing to supply oil to Germany). In today’s electronic age the response might be to electronically disrupt the workings of government and industry.
“Over the last few years a group of cyber spies has functioned in Eastern Europe. They are thought to be sponsored by the Russian Government, although this has not been definitely shown to be the case. The group has infiltrated computers in many Western Government departments and major defence companies such as BAE. It is thought that primarily they are fishing for secrets but there is no reason where their networks could not be used to disable IT operations and cripple government functions.
“If Russia is pushed too far will they choose to deploy cyberwarfare?”
Given the interconnected nature of the world today, the damage and pain could spread across Europe and around the globe.
It also worries experts from the US; Stewart Baker, who as a former Homeland Security official, remains convinced the world is unprepared. He said: “I think we’re really whistling past the graveyard.”