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Digital warfare: The beginning of World War III


The First World War started with information on a piece of paper – we were told. While the Second World War – by Hitler – has its origin on collections, analysis and manipulation of pieces of paper inscribed data and information at different levels.
With the recent successful hacking and perhaps coupled with a certain degree of denial of service on the United States Armed Forces Drone Network by unknown Cyber-hacking forces and the confirmed Cyber attack and digital hostage taking of Twitter – a US Internet Portal-based Social Network – via web-portal diversion with a high degree of denial of service by a group identified as Iranian Digital Army, the world may have entered a new Facebook era of cyber-warfare adventure that may eventually lead to a digital inferno capable of engulfing the entire planet.

In the above equation, therefore, it has become a strategic imperative for Nigeria to urgently revisit her national ICT Agenda and strategies with particular reference to Software and CyberSecurity.

Analysing the shape of things to come, it can well be justified to state that the third world war – the Digital Warfare – may have started!

Today, the emergence of Information and Communications Technology and particularly the Internet in global development has established a change-over phenomenon in the way we think, work and live.

It has also changed the way we plan and execute Governance, Education, Agriculture, Business, Industry and indeed Cultures of the world.

Above all, it has taken over the entertainment and social networking world. Not only that, ICT has become the backbone for economy, politics and War/National Defence – to the extent that the world is perhaps now, more than ever before, threatened with World War 3 – which will become the first Digital/Electronic War of Mankind.

The digital war

There is no gainsaying that this war has already begun in many shapes! At the heart of the many ICT tools and facilities involved and deployed in this digital war, is Software.

It will be recalled that a UK Research Centre on Global warming was hacked recently and substantial levels of sensitive e-mail stolen!

According to Chris Uwaje, President of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, ISPON, “Time is rapidly running out for Nigeria for not becoming a Digital Colony!”The 21st Century will take unprepared nations as Digital Hostages and eventually lock them out and make then a digital colony.

”It will be recalled that during the Sarajevo Bosnian war, the NATO defence web portal was to totally defaced and spammed – causing denial of service for about two weeks. ”Similarly, the Pentagon Defence Information Network Servers have been hacked many times by external intelligent forces (finger has been pointed at Russia, China, Britain, etc).

”Another case is the pre-9/11 digital warfare against the USA by the AlQeda Group led by Osama Bin-Laden – where sensitive data and national security information were collected, analysed and manipulated to facilitate the twin-tower and related cyber-aviation strike – a digital war on the USA?

”In the same realm, there were millions of digital/cyber scooping and behind the scenes attacks initiated simultaneously by USA Cyber-Kids and Arab Code-warriors in search of/protecting the sources of funding the AlQeda on the Internet – leading to the hacking of many banks around the world!”

Theft of national security information

The ISPON President noted that the theft of national security information from a government agency or the interruption of electrical power to a major metropolitan area have greater consequences for national security, public safety, and the economy than the defacement of a web-site. But even the less serious categories have real consequences and, ultimately, can undermine confidence in e-commerce and violate privacy or property rights.

A website hack that shuts down an e-commerce site can have disastrous consequences for a business.  An intrusion that results in the theft of credit card numbers from an online vendor can result in significant financial loss and, more broadly, reduce consumers’ willingness to engage in e-commerce.

In 1982 and 1983, the first desktop computers began to appear, many were equipped with operating system called Berkeley UNIX which includes Network Software – which allows relatively easy connection to the Internet.

The personal computer revolution continued through the eighties, making access to computer resources and networked information increasingly available to the general public. The rapid growth of the Internet and other telecommunications technologies are promoting advances in virtually every aspect of society and every corner of the globe.

Positive changes

Most of these advances represent positive changes in our society. Unfortunately, many of the attributes of this technology – low cost, ease of use, and anonymous nature, among others – make it an attractive medium for fraudulent scams, child sexual exploitation, and increasingly, a new concern known as “Cyberhacking and Cybercracking.

Preventing, detecting, investigating, and responding to Cyber threats in our digital/cyber space  -including economic crimes must become a priority, in an effort to limit their impact on the nation and economy to the barest minimum as well as reassure public’s confidence.

However, both law enforcement and the private sector, as it stands now, is in danger of slipping further behind the highly sophisticated Digital criminals.

Understanding of legislation

A greater understanding of how technology, competition, regulation, legislation and globalisation  is configured and operationalise is needed to successfully manage the delicate balance between economic progress and Cyber criminal opportunity.

New resources, laws, support for existing organisations, such as Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT), Cyber Space Emergency Response Centre, Cyber Early Warning and advisories, Digital Forensics and Data Recovery and public/private partnerships are necessary to control this growing problem in Nigeria as strategic contribution to Digital World Peace, DWP.

In view of the above challenges, the following critical measures should be taken as national IT emergency response as mandatory intervention to safeguard and control our cyberspace: Cyber Emergency Response Team, CERT; Cyber Early Warning and advisories; Digital Forensics and Data Recovery; Vulnerability assessment on Critical Information Infrastructure Security-rating Evaluation and Certification of ICT products based Common Criteria Recognition Agreement, CCRA; Issuing Guidelines and Best Practices on cyber security; Promotion and consultancy on Information Security Management System; ISMS and Business Continuity Management, BCM; Research on Cyber Law and Policy; Professional certification, training and seminars e-security awareness building and community outreach programmes.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.