So far, my blogs have manly concerned international cyber threats; however, nationally citizens all over the world should also be worried about government or private attacks on personal networks and data. This problem is already occurring openly in the Middle East and North Africa. During the recent uprisings, pro-government groups used cyber tactics, such as disabling pages, creating alternative pages, and spamming pages etc. to repress any opposition. A detailed account of this, especially in Syria, is given by Helmi Noman, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab who is working on the OpenNet Initiative, in his blog post “The Emergence of Open and Organized Pro-Government Cyber Attacks in the Middle East.”
He focuses primarily on the public Internet Army of Syria that is based on national networks and has threatened all national enemies with cyber attacks. Interestingly enough, the Syrian Electronic Army was launched by a group of young people who decided to retaliate against hostile anti-government adversaries by launching electronic attacks. It first emerged on Facebook in April 2011 in response to the citizen’s anti-government protests. The group was responsible for attacking over 50 websites and temporarily blocked them with pro-government propaganda. They also attacked and overtook many Western websites. Here is an example of a compromised page:
Even though one could say that these attacks were rather disruptive than severely dangerous, they have worrisome implications for the future.First off, these incidences show a future potential of more organized invasions by governments and groups on citizens. This could then lead to citizens to be disconnected from news, international relations, and truths. Even though it seems far fetched that there could be a transformation of society as extreme as that seen in “1984” and other futurist books and movies, cyber invasions and electronic capabilities will allow for a lot more control by those who know how to manipulate it. This discussion comes back to the question of how much privacy and freedom the individual should have the internet. And if one believes a lot, then how should this be protected? If it is easy enough for individual groups who have less research and funding to create large-scale electronic invasions, then what could this mean for a government organized invasion? Should citizens be worried about what they put on the internet since it can be accessed, manipulated and stolen?