A New Front

The Los Angeles Times reports today that the U.S. military has been attacked electronically, affecting computers in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Although officials are withholding many details, the attack underscores the increasing danger and potential significance of computer warfare, which defense experts say could one day be used by combatants to undermine even a militarily superior adversary.
Information is scarce and closely guarded, but the Times reports that the military suspects Russia.
An electronic attack from Russia shut down government computers in Estonia in 2007. And officials believe that a series of electronic attacks were launched against Georgia at the same time that hostilities erupted between Moscow and Tbilisi last summer. Russia has denied official involvement in the Georgia attacks.
Although there is reason to believe that we and other countries regularly engage in electronic assaults, this attack marks a major increase in hostilities. Unlike conventional war, cyber war is largely unbound by treaties and conventions, making it difficult to determine when acts of electronic aggression add up to open hostility.

This week's attacks represent the emergence of a new kind of combat that our military is currently unprepared to engage in or even defend itself from, but cyber war is sure to be a virtual front in almost every military conflict we face from now on.

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