By Mr Bill Collier- When most people think of cyber terrorism they imagine attacks that cripple infastructure or undermine financial markets. But just as terrorism in the flesh is going from mass scale to individual scale, with lone wolf attacks, the future of lateral warfare will involve using cyber warfare techniques to terrorize and destroy individuals. This kind of cyber warfare will be conducted by lone individuals, steeped in hacking skills, who randomly pick targets to virtually destroy, and most governments are too busy playing defense to prevent this from happening.
Cyber terrorism is a form of lateral warfare. Regardless of the moralizing, lateral warfare is the domain of weak powers who attack their strong enemies at vulnerable points both because soft targets are easier to attack and because these attacks have maximum effect on the enemy population's morale, or that is the aim.
As governments become more engaged in defending their cyber infastructure, even if much more needs to be done, the aggressors will find that targeting individuals and groups purely for the purpose of terrozing them into submission is a much easier operation to conduct. For instance, instead of sending two rather poorly organized men to attack the "free speech" gathering in Garland, Texas, the enemy could have wiped out a dozen people's bank accounts and ruined their credit and sent them a message to the effect that "because your country allowed this, you have to suffer."
Making everyone feel vulnerable if their country pursues policies or allows activities not favorable to your group would be the means to drive a wedge between the populace who can be victimized at any time and their government is the objective. This may come in the form of wishing to appease the attackers or simply making the populace lose confidence in their government's ability to protect them. Attacking even people who, for instance, protested the free speech event would have been designed to make those targeted feel even more strongly that Pameler Geller et al, the organizers of the event, are to blame for their suffering.
In the end, warfare is about neutralizing the enemy's combat power. Whether that power takes the form of swords and spears or keyboards and servers, the basic principles of warfare dictate that an aggressive policy of pursuing the enemy and shutting down their power of aggression must always be at the forefront. To merely create a cyber defense or advise people to take many costly and inconvenient measures against such attacks is a purely defensive measure. Even creating so-called hack-proof firewalls is purely defensive.
One thing I have learned about all forms of cyber-aggression is that the right place to stop an attack is within the virtual locations and venues where your attacker organizes. This involves cyber sluething, human intelligence, not merely crawling by technical means to detect activities- it requires infiltration and aggressive actions that target the bad actors, online and offline if possible, constantly undermining their ability to connect and destroying any trust by making them constantly fear infiltrators. In fact, I have purposefully outed infiltration of political opponents who were engaging in cyber aggressions in order to cripple their ability to organize.
Most of my experience in this realm I cannot disclose, as might be understood, but the general principles I am sharing always apply. Unless serious efforts are made to go after bad actors on an individual scale by breaking into and destroying their cyber command and control infastructure and gathering places, then individuals will find themselves being cyber-bombed and nothing any governmentg does will be proof against such random acts of cyber violence.