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Apr 07, 2023

The Cyberwarfare Capabilities of East vs. West

Cyberwarfare - China

Cyberwarfare is a growing concern for nations worldwide, and China’s offensive cyber capabilities are proving to be rapidly evolving, making the issue even more pressing. The looming threat of China’s possible altercation with Taiwan has led to the realization that any confrontation would likely be accompanied by the use of cyberwarfare weapons to cripple and neutralize defenses.

China’s defense budget has been increasing over the years, with an estimated $178 billion in 2020. This investment has enabled China to build up its cyber capabilities, with more than 50,000 cyber soldiers and an advanced cyber warfare unit.

China’s cyberwarfare program is not limited to defensive measures but includes a broad range of offensive capabilities. These include sophisticated malware, zero-day exploits, and the ability to conduct Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on a massive scale. The Chinese government has historically engaged in cyber espionage, stealing intellectual property and sensitive information from other nations as well as private enterprises.

Cyberwarfare is an effective method of waging war, especially against Western societies that have been influential in the world order since WWII. In recent years, China and other nations have developed extensive cyber espionage programs that target Western institutions in critical infrastructure, defense, and research. The Chinese government and affiliated private enterprises have invested heavily in building up capabilities to wage cyberwarfare.

Western societies are also more vulnerable to disruption of their lifestyle. Disruption of internet or cellular service, or streaming services, can affect public opinion over time. Social media influence is also a key weapon, where things like bank collapses can be exploited and amplified to cause further damage by swaying public opinion.

In essence, this investment in offensive cyber capabilities is giving China a key weapon in its arsenal to exert influence in the world order. In a conflict between hostile nations (like China) and the US, the cyber capabilities can be used to disrupt critical infrastructure, effectively crippling essential services. Cyber warfare is an incredibly useful, cheap, cost-effective tool of changing the world dynamics.

The threat of cyberwarfare has led to increased efforts by nations worldwide to enhance their cyber capabilities. However, China and others continue to heavily invest in cyberwarfare capabilities, and we are likely to see escalated use of cyberwarfare techniques never before seen in the years ahead.

How Can We Respond?

The US is increasing its efforts to counter the cyber capabilities of China and other hostile nations, with initiatives such as the National Cyber Strategy and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Other countries, such as Israel, the UK, and France, are also developing advanced cyber capabilities, although they are generally considered to be more focused on defensive capabilities rather than offensive capabilities.

In this kind of warfare, everyone is on the front line. Every company, every person. There are no borders. That’s what makes this such an effective form of warfare. It’s not just governments and militaries that need to be vigilant. Every business and individual has a role to play in protecting themselves and their assets from potential cyber-attacks.

Managing the attack surface then is crucial. Organizations must be proactive in identifying and managing their assets, as they are the ones at risk of being attacked. It’s not just about the technology used to protect these assets, but also about the people and processes involved in managing them. Every organization must be aware of the potential risks and have a plan in place to mitigate them.

In conclusion, the potential for cyberwarfare to cause significant damage to critical infrastructure and disrupt economies is a growing concern for nations worldwide. With China’s superior offensive cyber capabilities, the threat of cyber attacks is particularly significant in the context of international relations. The development of defensive and offensive cyber capabilities has become increasingly important for nations to defend themselves against these threats, but the use of such capabilities raises ethical considerations and the potential for significant geopolitical consequences.

For more information, download our whitepaper:  The New World Order is shaped by Cyberwarfare Capabilities of East vs. West – including all the other actors beyond China.

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