In the 21st century, cyberspace became an integral warfare domain joining those of the traditional land, air, sea, and space, writes Vitali Kremez for sentinelone.com.
Cyber attacks are currently listed among the top offensive tools of a potential adversary along with such classic instruments as submarines or special operations (SpecOps) teams. The recent discussion of the Islamic Republic of Iran to retaliate digitally for the US takedown of General Soleimani concludes that kinetic and cyber offense currently exists within the same framework and one could be a substitute for another.
This ability to efficiently integrate cyber offense measures into the actual battlefield of a traditional or asymmetric warfare model has been for years tested in the long-term military conflict unfolding in Eastern Ukraine since 2014.
This confrontation revealed many characterful traits that may become intrinsic features of 21st-century warfare. Massive digital attacks on physical infrastructure, the alleged use of cyberattacks against field hardware including artillery and, of course, military reconnaissance via cyber espionage. The later tactics were employed by the Gamaredon group, a spyware collective that has been specifically targeting Ukrainian military and security institutions in order to compromise and survey the country’s national security (NatSec) resilience and military power.
Gamaredon evolutionary dynamics are as notable as its operations since 2013. Through the last few months, the group has introduced new components that constitute its offensive power.
The scale of operations, the number of victims, the adaptiveness of tools, the persistence which the tools are applied and the accuracy with which they are tailored for a specific goal, the quality of intelligence collection, and the level of human intelligence (HUMINT) social engineering implementation – all of these fundamental aspects of a cyber warfare operation have continued to be improved by Gamaredon.