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The Ukraine crisis is not yet a cyber war, says Intel Security chief

But will be if the countries' governments and critical infrastructure are targeted
Wed Mar 05 2014, 16:42

THE INCREASING TENSIONS between Ukraine and Russia have escalated to conflict in cyberspace, with security experts reporting that both Kiev and Moscow are launching various cyber attacks on one another, but Intel Security said that a cyber war hasn't broken out yet.

While security forces in the Ukraine have accused the Russian army of disrupting mobile communications with unusually large denial of service attacks, in which hackers flood a website with traffic to knock it offline, smaller scale attacks have seen news outlets and social media vandalised with propaganda messages.

However Jarno Limnéll, director of Cyber Security at Intel Security and doctor of military science, told The INQUIRER today that he "would be very careful" when using the term "cyber war" to describe what is happening in the two countries.

"I wouldn't use the word 'war' when thinking about activities in the cyber front at this moment in Ukraine. For sure in all today's conflicts and wars there are cyber elements, and if you want to be a critical player in today's world politics and in the military battlefield you have to process that as a reality," Limnéll said. "But the reality of what's going on over there is not war."

Limnéll explained the situation in Ukraine as cyber activities that are ongoing on several "cyber fronts," explaining that there are various activities taking place in the country.

One of those "cyber fronts" is propaganda, which has seen headlines changed in journalism and social media. "This is something which will accelerate," Limnéll said.

"Each party which is involved in this situation are sending their messages via social media, via journalists and different media sources, however, like the old phrase propaganda, it is ongoing very fiercely.

Limnéll said that for there to be a full scale cyber war between Ukraine and Russia, there would have to be a cyber front in play that isn't presently, and cyber attacks against the countries' governments, services and critical infrastructure like electricity, energy and telecommunications facilities.

"And if that happens there are two things to take into consideration, first of all there probably would be unpredictable side effects in those kind of cyber attacks that we don't know beforehand what might happen and whoever launched them might shoot themselves in the foot.

"On the other hand, using this kind of cyber element there is a great possibility to escalate the wrong situation and then it would be war." µ


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