The United States got a rude awakening in 2016 when multiple American federal agencies blamed Russia for interfering with the 2016 election. Cyber and information warfare are the tools of the future, and our enemies are already beginning to employ these new methods. The 2016 elections saw two great threats of the digital age come to fruition: (1) Compromised Information through the DNC by Guccifer 2.0 and (2) Social Engineering through Russian bots and the spread of fake news. In order to be prepared for the future, people must understand the dangers that come with our digital age.
Countries are now capable of devastating cyber attacks. An excellent example of this is apparent in the 2015 cyber attack on Ukraine's power grid. Many believe Russia was most likely involved in some capacity. However, the important thing to note is how quick, cheap, and effective a cyber attack can be. Most likely, the attack on Ukraine was minuscule compared to what countries like Russia, China, and the U.S. are, in fact, fully capable of. Taking into consideration how reliant we are on systems of infrastructure which can be hacked, it is imperative that the U.S. stresses a focus on improving cyber defense and keeping security tight. Countries such as China, Iran, and Russia are constantly found to be hubs of origin for cyber attacks and some of these are even state sponsored.
Besides direct attacks on infrastructure, social engineering must be recognized as well. Bots have become a massive problem on the internet. YouTube has struggled with fake traffic with bots before. At one point in fact, there were more fake users on the website than real people. This worried YouTube employees that the fraud detection systems the website had in place would experience a breakdown and recognize the fake traffic as real. This would therefore prevent real users from accessing content. The ability to traffic fake likes, accounts, and traffic is being used on a massive scale and for multiple reasons. In 2015, the New York Times reported on an agency in St. Petersburg Russia that was dedicated to creating "troll" accounts. These accounts could be used to spread disinformation, inflame online arguments, as well as a host of other mischievous cyber deeds. Indeed, such practices are worrying as they can spell doom for democracy across the globe.
Taking into consideration the dangers that our digital age entails, people must be aware of what is out there and how other countries are preparing to engage in cyber tactics. The countries that have been recognized as cyber superpowers as of 2016 include the U.S., U.K., China, Russia, and Israel. The field is growing at a rapid pace and is bringing us to new frontiers as well. It is likely that the development of artificial intelligence will have some impact on cyber security as well. China especially is pouring a great deal of money into A.I. in order to improve weapons systems, surveillance tactics, and other various forms of technology. Truly, the world is on a path toward new and potentially scary discoveries in the cyber world. Taking all of these tings into consideration, it is imperative that the U.S. continues to expand its cyber capabilities in order to bolster national security and stay ahead of the competition.