COVID-19 and Biocybersecurity's Increasing Role on Defending Forward

COVID-19 and Biocybersecurity's Increasing Role on Defending Forward

Xavier Palmer (Old Dominion University, USA), Lucas N. Potter (Old Dominion University, USA) and Saltuk Karahan (Old Dominion University, USA)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJCWT.2021070102
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The evolving nature of warfare has been changing with cybersecurity and the use of advanced biotechnology in each aspect of the society is expanding and overlapping with the cyberworld. This intersection, which has been described as “biocybersecurity” (BCS), can become a major front of the 21st-century conflicts. There are three lines of BCS which make it a critical component of overall cybersecurity: (1) cyber operations within the area of BCS have life threatening consequences to a greater extent than other cyber operations, (2) the breach in health-related personal data is a significant tool for fatal attacks, and (3) health-related misinformation campaigns as a component of BCS can cause significant damage compared to other misinformation campaigns. Based on the observation that rather than initiating the necessary cooperation COVID-19 helped exacerbate the existing conflicts, the authors suggest that BCS needs to be considered as an essential component of the cyber doctrine, within the Defending Forward framework. The findings are expected to help future cyber policy developments.
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The discussion of the evolution of cyber warfare requires the discussion of the consequences in terms of their impacts. One analysis of papers found that between 2010 and 2020, the notion of cyber attacks has been normalized and that in some articles, civilian losses go unmentioned, if not downplayed, despite the compared impact of tools employed (Sallinen, 2021). This indicates that the effects of cyberwarfare and cyber weapons in security studies may underestimate biological casualties when taking into account past or possible consequences of cyber conflict versus the impact on targeted facilities. Throughout the history of warfare, humans have witnessed countless modes of weaponry from rocks to nuclear warheads of which each advancement has raised the stakes and risks in engagement in direct losses, making cyberwarfare, which has been seen by the lay public in a largely computational lens, seem benign. The exception, of course, is within cases concerning ransomware and news regarding the targeting of public infrastructures such as hospitals or connected spaces (Martin et al., 2017; Spence et al., 2018). This view is not rare in consideration of modern cyber conflicts between rival powers as losses are primarily incurred in terms of financial loss, infrastructure functionality, corruption of data, and dismantling of logistics, and more, resulting in the reduction of direct human casualties that would be caused through use of munitions (Brenner and Clarke 2009; Evans, 2020; Metzger 2020; Moreno and Lovaas 2020; Sallinen, 2021).

In delineating the difference between cyberwar and cyber-crime, as they are sometimes used in similar instances, a core difference lies in state sponsorship or linked infrastructure of the attacks, combined with or otherwise operationally linked to armed force (Maurushat, 2013).For example, Nation A sending criminals to Nation B can be seen as hostile while not being engaged in warfare. Alternatively, for Nation A to send a battalion of soldiers would be almost unequivocally seen as warfare. The contexts of each action will differ. It is difficult to put an exact number on what number of troops or which actions elevate hostilities to war-time actions, and it is reasonable to believe that the exact number will be nebulous as the exact manpower to constitute an act of war would depend on particulars and rationale of the nations involved for such an action. As some nations engage in acts without fully declaring war, enlarging the frame for cyberwar in contexts in which nation-states utilize cyber attacks in an organized manner as a part of war-time or war-time adjacent acts is helpful for discussion and may reflect a helpful measure of defense. In the midst of conflicting literature, the authors lean towards Brenner’s (2006) cyberware definition which reflects virtual conduct of military operations as they sufficiently ground the context of warfare (Brenner, 2006). Otherwise, such hostile acts, unconnected to state-actors and armed conflict, can be framed as cybercrime.

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