Army Commander says at cyber warfare conference:
Ensure cyber security
Text of the speech by Army Commander
Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya on ‘Strategic Dimensions of Cyber
Warfare’ at cyber warfare workshop on Tuesday
We can define a conflict as a struggle carried on with the use of
arms between nations or parties who are having contending wishes by
land, sea, or air. This is the physical space which we talk about and we
have won the 30 years of physical war in Sri Lanka. But warfare has not
come to an end by eliminating terrorists from this country. We and the
whole world whether there is any physical war or not are faced with
another war which is known as ‘Cyber War’.
Army Commander Lieutenant General
Jagath Jayasuriya delivering the keynote address on
‘Strategic Dimensions of Cyber Warfare’ at the cyber warfare
workshop on Tuesday. Picture by Thushara Fernando
You know that after the World War II there was something called Cold
War among the nations. The aim of the involved nations was to develop
their technology and reach milestones before the opposing nations,
having the fear of another World War. This was prominent between US and
USSR at that time.
Traditionally to win a war the essential components are the fire
power of the army, manoeuvre capability, protection of men and
equipment, standard of leadership, status of morale, last but not the
least information and intelligence where you know about yourself and the
enemy. Efforts are made to keep your information as secret as possible
while obtaining enemy information as much as possible.
As you know, information is the resource, target and the weapon in
information warfare. The field of information and communication
technology facilitates processing and transferring of information better
than any traditional medium. Cyberspace is the information super highway
across the entire world. This has given rise to cyber warfare which is
an emerging threat to the entire world.
Cyberspace has made the popular concept of Global Village a reality.
There is no need for me to define what cyberspace is as you all are
aware of it. In general cyber warfare can be defined as “actions by
nations or groups to penetrate another nation’s or group’s computers,
networks or websites through the Cyberspace for the purposes of causing
damage or disruption”. To make it simple it is “a war combated in the
medium of Cyberspace other than the traditional mediums of land, water
I do not intend to talk much on theoretical aspects of cyber warfare.
You already know that there are several types of cyber attacks such as
virus and worm attacks, denial of service attacks (DoS), web defacements
of informational sites and unauthorized intrusions into systems.
You must also know that unsolicited e-mails, bogus websites, chat
programs, remote controlling software, web applications, software
updates, free software with malicious codes, Trojans and etc etc are the
main vulnerabilities we have.
But when it comes to practical aspects there are many strategic
issues which we have to deal with.
It is not a secret that 9-11 attack was the eye opener for united
States and whole world on terrorism. United States of America’s image as
the ‘World Superpower’ was tarnished with this attack. Since most of you
are with some technical background you understand the gravity of cyber
warfare. But an ordinary person would never think that a cyber attack
can cause more or less a similar sort of damage as of 9-11. Of course a
cyber attack might not kill people as in a physical attack. But who
knows what future technology is capable of Let us draw our attention on
some case studies to understand this better.
WikiLeaks is the most popular name which is talked these days with
respect to cyber warfare of 21st Century. WikiLeaks leaked some 250,000
classified State Department information and became a popular rebellion
amongst hundreds or thousands of tech-savvy activists.
Do you know what happened to Estonia in 2007?
Number of government and corporate sites in Estonia, including
Estonian parliament, banks, ministries, newspapers and broadcasters were
hacked and entire Estonian network came to a point that it was useless.
Estonian authorities traced those attacks to Russia, and suggested
they had been orchestrated by the Kremlin and that charge was denied by
Moscow. Some refer to this attack as Cyber War 1.
Another good example is Stuxnet computer worm which targeted mainly
the industrial equipment. This was first discovered in July 2010 by
Virus Blok Ada, a security firm based in Belarus. This worm had the
ability to reprogram industrial systems and probable target is said to
have been high valued Siemens controlled infrastructures in Iran. You
might be surprised to hear that the infestation by this worm said to
have damaged Iran’s nuclear facilities in Natanz and eventually delayed
the start up of Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant. Siemens initially
stated that the worm had not caused any damage, but on November 29, Iran
confirmed that its nuclear program had indeed been damaged by Stuxnet.
So far I did not mention any physical disasters caused by a cyber
attack. In 1982, the CIA showed how a piece of code that changes the
workings of a system could cause a physical damage. The agency exploded
a Soviet gas pipeline in Siberia without using a missile or bomb, but a
string of computer code. This is a classic example to show that even
assassinations are possible with cyber attacks in near future.
Those are few of the examples from around the world. But don’t forget
that during the humanitarian operation our website also encountered a
web defacement attack. Even at present there are continuous efforts been
made to hack into our network which we have successfully defended up to
There is nothing you can name which does not have some connection to
the cyberspace. You name anything, all the information is available in
the cyberspace. Every organization depends at least to some extent from
the cyberspace and sooner or later the dependency would reach to a
compelling state. More you depend more you become vulnerable.
If we talk about the Sri Lankan context during the civil war, main
targets were the three forces, even though civilians and economic
institutions were also bombed and attacked. If Sri Lanka is going to be
attacked through cyberspace who would be the targets?
To be continued