'Cybernetics arms race is underway,' new study says

INSS report says unique attributes of cybernetics battle arena include ability to strike enemies far away without endangering any personnel.

June 6, 2011 22:59
2 minute read.
Stuxnet Virus

Stuxnet 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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A world-wide cybernetics arms race has already begun, including the establishment of offices and headquarters in various countries dedicated to this latest battleground, a study by Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies said this week.

The study, co-authored by INSS senior researcher Shmuel Even, and senior IDF Intelligence Directorate researcher David Siman Tov, named the US, Britain, Germany, France and China as some of the countries that are busy developing capabilities in the cybernetics battle arena.

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“The cybernetic sphere is a new battleground, and joins the land, sea, air and space arenas in modern warfare,” said the authors.

“Modern states and advanced militaries are increasing their activities in the cybernetics sphere, which presents a source of empowerment, but is also an Achilles’ heel,” the study says.

Vital national infrastructure such as electricity, communications, water, transport, monetary systems and others are based on cybernetics.

So are military command and control networks and advanced battleground technologies, the report noted.


Unique attributes of the cybernetics battle arena include the ability to attack enemies situated far away from one’s country within a fraction of a second without endangering any personnel.

This makes it an attractive option for periods in between conventional wars, said the study.

Recent examples include the attack on Estonia in 2007, blamed on Russia, and the 2008 attack on Georgia, also blamed on Russia.

The Stuxnet virus that damaged Iran’s nuclear program illustrated the great potential of cybernetic warfare, and is considered to be a major development, the authors added.

The study has warned that non-state actors like terrorist organizations could carry out cyber attacks, creating the need to develop robust defenses.

From Israel’s perspective, “IT systems and the cybernetic sphere play a decisive role in Israel’s qualitative edge in security and economics,” the authors said.

The IDF carried out an “important step when, in 2009, it recognized the sphere as a new strategic and operative arena, and set up a cyber headquarters for coordinating activities,” said the report.

The US’s Department of Defense took a similar step in recent years, it noted.

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