There is a massive war going on, with nations engaging in the fight as well as sponsoring private mercenaries. You don’t see explosions or hear shots on the news because the battles are in cyberspace.

So far, the cyber war consists mostly of ‘one-off’ attacks and skirmishes. There has been no grand invasion like a ‘D-Day.’ This war is very much like The Cold War – fought in small battlegrounds and never getting ‘hot’ between the warring parties themselves.

This is not a US political story – it’s not about Democrats versus Republicans. It’s about how nations interact with one another behind the scenes – and the main five perpetrators are staying very, very busy.

What countries are involved in cyber warfare?

Most countries engage in some form of cyber warfare on at least a small scale, but their endeavors rank far below the top five:

The United States
North Korea

Before you think, “This has nothing to do with me and my business,” think again. ALL worldwide cybercrime is performed by echelons within the ranks – the same crooks hacking consumer phones are not the same crooks hacking Small and Mid-size Businesses (SMBs), and those higher echelon crooks are not the ones hacking multi-national corporations.

The same goes for National Cyber Armies – those that are within the state itself are responsible for hacking rival nations’ government institutions. Nations wage war on every level. It’s the ‘independent’ but State-sponsored criminal organizations that are looking for you.

Remember the massive Ransomware attack in 2021 that crippled the non-government Colonial Pipeline and created havoc along the Eastern Seaboard? The mysterious perpetrators, ‘The DarkSide’ have been identified as being located mostly in Russia and other Eastern European countries. No tangible evidence has ever been provided that they were tied to the Kremlin, who had denied involvement (duh…). US security and diplomatic experts at the time stated that anyone who doesn’t believe Putin at least gave tacit approval for this major attack on American infrastructure is fooling themselves.

What is a global cyber war?

In 2010, Richard A. Clarke, the former US National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism, succinctly define it as: "Actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation's computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption."

A tremendous amount of cyber warfare goes on – it’s a large part of modern international ‘Cloak and Dagger’ operations. Most of the time, regular citizens are none the wiser as to the battle that’s going on in cyberspace. Only occasionally does something splash out into the news.

There is also a case to be made for cyber warfare as a tool in corporate espionage. Intellectual properties are highly sought after by both state-sponsored and private criminals.

In terms of American business, international cyber war is out of your reach to do anything about, but the danger is the effect a massive cyber-attack could have on infrastructure that would severely damage Small and Mid-size Businesses (SMBs).

The best any business owner can do is to develop alternate plans and contingencies for disaster. Consideration for these have been forced on SMBs with inflation, higher fuel prices (and the shortages – especially with diesel), and supply-chain disruptions.

As always, your IT Support should have made your own network as bulletproof as possible, because while the major powers are playing cat-and-mouse the lower level cyber criminals are vigilant and always on the prowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which country is No 1 in cyber crime?

A:  China is the hands-down winner, responsible for 41% of the world’s ‘attack traffic’, with the United States lagging far behind with a second place showing of 10%.

The next is Turkey, with 4.7% of attack traffic. Russia is just behind, with 4.3%, and rounding out the top five is Taiwan, with 3.7%.

Note that China almost doubles the attack traffic of the others in the top five combined.

Q: Where do most cyber attacks begin?

A: Over 90% of all attacks begin with a malicious phishing email sent to an unsuspecting employee. This is the main reason every business needs to perform regular and ongoing Security Awareness Training.

Q: Which country is number 1 in cyber security?

A:  It depends on who you ask and who you believe, and the methodology they use to determine their “#1”.

The four main reports are provide by the ITU (International Telecom Union), Analytic Insights, CyberDB, and Comparitech. The United States landed as #1 in two (Analytics Insights and CyberDB), but placed second for the ITU (behind the UK) and fifth for Comparitech (behind Japan, France, Canada, and Denmark).

The US is the only country to make the top five in all reports.

Q: How strong is U.S. cybersecurity?

A: A survey by the International Institute for Strategic Studies places the United States as the world’s foremost cyber superpower (but China performs more actual hacking).

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