A Brief Guide to the Weapons of Cyberconflict

Article/Op-Ed in Slate
March 8, 2016

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.