A Brief Guide to the Weapons of Cyberconflict

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Media Outlet: Slate

Trey Herr wrote for Slate about the weapons employed in the new era of war:

Conflict in cyberspace isn’t really what you think. It’s mostly not about exploding power plants, toppling corporate giants, or exacting revenge for Seth Rogen comedies. It is a conflict over information. To keep secret that which we value and steal or expose that which others value. To create uncertainty, to breed inaction.

The tools of this conflict are software—code that allows an attacker to gain access to a computer or network and manipulate it to his own ends. The result is a series of pitched battles between information assurance professionals and malicious attackers of various stripes. This same process is taking place every day, with states and nonstate groups working to gather intelligence on targets, to gain access to their systems, and—every so often—to execute a malicious payload.
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Author:

Trey Herr is a fellow in the Cybersecurity Initiative and with the Belfer Center's Cyber Security Project at the Harvard Kennedy School. His work focuses on trends in state developed malicious software, the structure of criminal markets for malware components, and the proliferation of malware.