Weaponization of Virtual World

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Weaponization of Virtual World

The growing concern for data exploitation in nation-states through their protected borders tier by tier is evident. Not meditating over the possibility that we have already learned to accept and to be familiar with the negative aspects of technology, this just the start. Today’s policymakers and decision-makers are more concerned about cyber-war than cybercrime. The main players in the cyberwar are cyberterrorists and state-sponsored hackers that target and ruin the nation’s economic security in addition to attacking websites to vandalize them and steal Facebook accounts. Will the internet be a threat to internal security in the future? It is impossible to say.  However, the evidence of digital weaponization, that the states are equipped to counter, is enough to motivate them to reinforce their internal security.

Another typical cyber threat in the form of a malware module used against the army, paramilitaries, or intelligence groups is normally referred to as a cyber weapon. Data stealing and electronic or barracks destruction are types of cyber weapons. Cyber weapons in this case lead to some direct or indirect financial harm inflicted on the targeted organization, but the primary aim of this sneaky instrument is not a direct financial gain for the attacker’s sponsor.

A cyber-army is a set of units capable of a high level of expertise in information and communication technologies and ready to deliver specific cyber tasks and operations. Nations should deploy cyblogs as a means of national cybersecurity maintenance. In cyber defensive power, China seems to be ranked first, followed by the Netherlands, France and afterward – the United States and Canada. The report by the researchers indexes cyber offensive, cyber norms impact, and cyber intelligence, in which the US occupies the leading position.

Teams within Cyber Command are then assigned to specific adversaries such as Iran, Russia, China, or North Korea, and they have been working with the intelligence community over the years to get access to cyber networks to get in and monitor such networks. Like other computer codes, cyber weapons are written in 0s and 1s; thus making them silent and unseen weapons. They provide access to entire network infrastructure, as well as introducing viruses into isolated PCs. Electronic warfare is the shutdown of communication systems, the perplexing of enemy signals, and the prevention of military attacks without the typical bright and loud noise of traditional weapons of war.

Nowadays, cybercrime appears in the media as a novel value that can replace the conventional tools of crime. The virtual world of today that we are living in, evidently, represents a great threat to national security because it can give access to attackers from malevolent entities to disrupt the critical infrastructure. According to the statistics, which was provided by the organization during its ninth cyber security conference touching Middle East, Africa and Asia, the majority of the cyber attacks were aimed at the banking sector, through which 23% of the local users had been affected in 2023.

Although the extent of cyber threats has increased over the years, Pakistan still remains the lowest ranked country of the region next to Oman that received less than one-third of online threats in the metrics, which has 23 percent of its affected users.  Data analysis showed that hackers penetrated almost one-fourth of the systems of Pakistani users during 2023. Among banking sector users, cyber assulates were the highest whereas more than 50 percent of them were targeted by the cyber criminals through ransom for malware, trojan and other viruses.

Those discussions were centered around the security of trending technologies, which nowadays include AI, that are evolving the size of modern threats. At the same time, potential barbs that focused on control systems within the industrial sector of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia were also addressed. The perfect storm approach by Kaspersky’s Cyber Immunity provided an effective antidote which created solutions that are virtually hacker proofed and that had minimal potential vulnerabilities.

Looking ahead, it is crucial for countries to focus on detailed cybersecurity strategies to stop this crises. It is thus necessary to allocate investments for modern technologies like AI-powered instruments, and also promote multilateralism that enhances the intelligence sharing and the exchange of strategies. Furthermore, there is indeed a concurrent call for the creation of holistic cyber education and training programs which produce a workforce equipped with the know-how to deal with emerging threats.

A regulatory framework needs to be built with appropriate supervision of its implementation and the private-public partnerships should be nurtured to ensure the cybersecurity resiliency of all public and private sectors. Moreover, organizations need cyber resilience measures, conduct regular risk assessments, and develop incident response plans which will reduce the extent of the influence of cyber-attacks. Inculcating awareness among individuals, businesses, and governments is pivotal, having ethical aspects in the employment of cyber weapons and offensive operations also being equally important. With the implementation of these approaches, states would be better positioned to improve cybersecurity, safeguard their national interests, and fight incidents of cyber threats that affect society at large.

Rimsha Malik
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Rimsha Malik is an Associate Research Officer at the Centre for International Strategic Studies AJK.
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