A new war dimension that adds to the more traditional domains of sky, earth, water and space. These are cyber attacks on the critical infrastructures of a state, from those for the production and distribution of electricity to hospitals and ministries, to the chains of command, control and military communication. The ‘brain’ of war, also based on information technology and therefore subject to cyber attacks. “And from the historical point of view, we know that Russia was equipped very early for this type of attacks”, explains to AdnKronos Guglielmo Tamburrini, professor of Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Naples Federico II within the Department of Electrical and IT Engineering.
Attacks that risk triggering an escalation, responding to cyber attacks with other conventional or even nuclear weapons, because “there is always the possibility that a cyber attack could trigger a response that is not cyber. The risk that a a cyberattack can even be answered with a nuclear attack, it is a possibility that cannot be completely excluded, even if very remote today “, he explains.
According to the latest report in the Nuclear Posture Review, periodically published by the US (the latest publicly available report from 2018) and which establishes the policy, strategy, capabilities and position of US nuclear forces, “in the event of an attack not strategic nuclear power to critical infrastructures, which could have particularly significant destructive effects, the United States could respond with nuclear weapons, “says Tamburrini.
“It is not clear – he stresses – whether a response of this type could also be triggered by a cyber attack, but some commentators, including personalities who have played government roles such as an assistant to the secretary of state, believe so, that we can respond to a destructive cyber attack even with nuclear weapons. This is a huge danger and it would be important to have diplomatic initiatives, negotiations and finally international treaties to agree on the exclusion of a nuclear-like response to a cyber attack “. Because at the moment “we are still in a poorly regulated domain at the international level”.
Possibilities to date “quite remote – according to Tamburrini – because the work to build a particularly destructive cyber attack is very expensive, in terms of time and human energy. Experts seem to agree on this point. But things could change through artificial intelligence. that can make everything much faster, automating and making cyber attacks more widespread and destructive, and this is a risk on which the international community must reflect and come to regulation. We are in the field of a hypothesis concerning technological development but on the which to reflect in a preventive manner to avoid new risks of escalation “.
The information systems for command, control and communication concerning nuclear defense are quite antiquated, developed a few decades ago and also for this reason less prone to cyber attacks. “But now there is a question of modernizing the command, control and nuclear communications system by the United States and other nuclear powers and it would be necessary to agree on a ban on cyber attacks on these systems because this could provide a serious reason for escalation. “.
In short, it would be important to arrive at international agreements to limit these attacks. The defense of peace also involves this.
by Stefania Marignetti