Cyber-operations are being used for a wide range of information warfare and intelligence gathering purposes, including in the war between Russia and Ukraine, according to a new book published today by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCE).
“In Ukraine, cyber-operations have been used hand-in-hand with information warfare and intelligence initiatives,” explained Sven Sakkov, director of the Tallinn-based NATO CCDCE, which has published Cyber War in Perspective: Russian Aggression against Ukraine.
He adds: “Phone hacks, website defacements, and politically motivated cyber-attacks served a wider purpose. It demonstrates that computer-based warfare is very unlikely to happen in isolation, it is rather integrated into how nations assert power, potentially using any and all means possible.”
“The world is moving toward a greater strategic use of cyber-capabilities to persuade adversaries to change their behaviour,” explains Jarno Limnéll, Professor of cyber-security at Aalto University and one of the authors. “Smaller countries such as Finland and Estonia, with a strong heritage of technical capability and experience, may possess some advantages in the cyber-domain that not even great powers could dream of,” adds Professor Limnéll.
Kenneth Geers, NATO CCD COE Ambassador, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, Visiting Professor at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and editor of the publication, describes how, “...more than 20 experts in network security and national defence examine the cyber-dimension of the ongoing geopolitical conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and explain how cyber attacks can influence international crises in the Internet era”.
Over its 18 chapters scholars and practitioners identify the tactical and strategic implications of cyber-operations and discuss their significance for policy and law, and analyse many aspects of information warfare. The Ukraine crisis between 2013-2015 provides a case study to examine digital propaganda, denial-of-service (DoS) campaigns, website defacements, and information leaks by hacktivists, cutting-edge cyber-espionage malware, physical attacks on Internet infrastructure, and even an attempt to spoil the Ukrainian Presidential election.