Scenario 1999: Computer Malware as Cyberweaponry

Outside of Scenario 1999, there is no working definition on where and when “Malware (Malicious Software)” constitutes as a Cyberweapon. The World Wide Web (WWW), because it is impossible for any one nation to actually govern it in its entirety, has witnessed the proliferation of vast arsenals of Malware. Without adequate cyberdefense measures, entire nations are vulnerable to Malware as software developers continues to realize deadlier forms over the past several decades. Military-Industrial Complexes have become invested in the pursuing this endeavor, creating an arms race that rivals the development of nuclear weapons from the last century. Worse, the fact that there is no working definition also prevents nations from ascertaining whether they should be retaliating against another nation or what appropriate measures are to be taken. For the sake of Scenario 1999, it is necessary to devise a comprehensive definition of Malware where it must be treated as Cyberweaponry whose devastating impact in the National Intranets and International Internet should raise important questions for the World State Organization (WSO) about its proliferation among States, Totalities, and Selves.

Known Types of Malware

The purpose of deploying Malware in the WWW has consistently been to steal or destroy information and sabotage computerized machinery to render it inoperable. Thus, Malware differs from software bugs by dint of the fact that latter are unintentional errors in the coding that can be exploited by the former. Software bugs exploited by Malware are considered as “Zero-Day Exploits,” which may be left unknown to the developer of the coding or were deliberately kept under wraps by intelligence services determined to take advantage of them for their own clandestine operations. As the development of Malware remains ongoing, this Entry can only be a limited discussion of the current arsenal of Cyberweaponry.   

The two most common types of Malware–Cyberweapons–include “Viruses” and “Worms.”

  • A Virus is a preprogrammed piece of code designed to go off when it has been triggered by an executable application. It can be designed to destroy information, install “Spyware” to gather information, launch “Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDOS) Attacks” or impose “Ransomware” to take Computer Systems and Computer Networks hostage. File sharing, email attachments, and even Websites can serve as delivery methods for deploying Viruses. They will even lie dormant in somebody’s device, ready to be triggered by an executable application or program.
  • A Worm is more sophisticated than a Virus insofar as it is an actual computer program that can execute, spread and replicate itself across different Computer Systems and Networks. Thus, Worms do not need to be activated by another executable application or program and can operate on their own without any inputs from either the defender or the attacker. Their coding is designed to destroy or steal information, coordinate a Ransomware raid, sabotage Computer Networks and Systems, and create “Botnets.”      

The key difference between Viruses and Worms is that the former cannot execute itself without the inputs of the attacker or the defender, whereas the latter is autonomous enough to inflict damage on its targets. In the WWW, they are indiscriminate and will target all unprotected Computer Systems and Networks. In International Relations, Malware and Cyberweaponry are interchangeable terms whose analysis focused on equivocating them to nuclear weapons. In Scenario 1999, however, most Viruses and Worms in the Digital Realm function more akin to biological weapons specifically designed to target the Computer Systems and Networks of a given country’s National Intranet. The digital infrastructure of the National Intranets and International Internet are formatted differently compared to the WWW because of the fact that questions of National Sovereignty and Personal Privacy have led to different formatting and coding standards that can still facilitate interactions between different National Intranets and the broader International Internet.     

Apart from Viruses and Worms, the most recent development has been “Logic Bombs” that can be designed to destroy information and sabotage Computer Systems and Networks. They can be combined with Viruses and Worms to amplify their overall devastation and programmed to go off on a specified data and at an exact moment in Zeit (Time). They differ from Viruses and Worms by their ability to evade the detection countermeasures of the defenders and their ability to set themselves off automatically if deleted. The ongoing sophistication of Logic Bombs continues to raise the implication that Logic Bombs may someday become its own type of Cyberweapon, to be complemented by even deadlier ones.   

To deliver Worms, Viruses and Logic Bombs to their intended targets, a number of methods have been devised to facilitate their infiltration and enhance their overall destructiveness.  

Botnets are the Digital Realm’s equivalent of the Real World’s MATV (Miniature Automated Tractor Vehicle) and its military counterpart, the MAFV (Miniaturized Armored Fighting Vehicle). In the Real World, MATVs and MAFVs can be piloted by a crew of up to four people or autonomously operated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) program isolated from the Digital Realm. In the Digital Realm, Botnets are the military equivalent of civilian bots tasked with carrying out aspects of the LERE (Life-Energization Reciprocal Electrification) Process. Botnets fulfill a similar function by carrying out the commands of an attacker or being controlled directly by the attack themselves. Their sheer numbers and ease of manufacture makes them ideal for launching DDOS Attacks. They can steal data, give the attacker access to the defender’s affected devices, and spread propaganda to demoralize the defender.

The known relatives of Botnets have been Spyware, Backdoors and Rootkits, Trojan Horses and Ransomware. Spyware is designed to let the attacker know the movements of the defender, regardless of whether the defender is aware or unaware of the attacker hassling their every move. Backdoors can be installed onto the devices of unsuspecting defenders by an attacker in order to either prepare for an upcoming Cyberoffensive or to begin stealing information from the affected devices. Rootkits can enable an attacker to gain some form of access to the defender’s Computer Networks and Computer Systems. Trojan Horses can be used to hide other types of Malware as part of a coordinated Cyberoffensive. Ransomware is, as its name suggests, Malware designed to let the attacker take the defender’s Computer Networks and Systems hostage. The attacker is expected to issue their demands to the defender, which the defender must comply, otherwise the affected devices will have their information completely destroyed.    

Note that most conventional Malware, as Cyberweapons, are ineffective on their own. They are often deployed in conjunction with some offline offensive back in the Real World. Sometimes, the attacker must interact with the defender, manipulating them into dropping their defenses in order to exploit them. Most of the methods have been intended to get the defender to provide sensitive information or at the very least provide ways of gaining access to the sensitive information without triggering the cyberdefenses of their National Intranet.  In the WWW, this sort of issue becomes inevitable as National Sovereignty and Personal Privacy do not exist nor will they be given proper attention. The obvious implication is that it is difficult, if not outright impossible, for Parliament to wage any conceivable Cyberdefensive with Civil Society and the Private Citizen. Given the Liberal Capitalist conceptions of Political-Economic Freedom, Property Rights, and International Trade, there is no doubt that Cyberdefensives can be realized without some compromises made to Neoliberalism.    

Meanwhile, in Scenario 1999, such methods can still exist under different contexts. More importantly, they are given harsher treatment if somebody has been caught trying to carry them out on a National Intranet or the broader International Internet. The methods alone signal a breach of trust not only for the defender, who may or may not be the Self, but also the Totality and the State that can potentially be impacted by a cyberattack. If committed on the National Intranet, the attacker will be extradited to the country to stand trial. In the absence of a Extradition Treaty, the Council State will intervene and turn it into an international incident that will lead to a straining of diplomatic relations with the attacker’s country of origin.

Defending the National Intranet

The proliferation of Cyberweapons in Scenario 1999 demands appropriate responses from the Council State. Even though the Totality governs the Social Forums and Social Courts that will no doubt be targeted by hostile attackers, the Council State still owns and maintains the digital infrastructure behind the entire National Intranet. In the event of a cyberattack, the Council State is going to be expected to defend itself as it would in any other situation offline. On land, at sea, or in the air, the Council State has the appropriate firepower to defend itself, and the Digital Realm will not be an exception to this.

The Council State knows that the vast majority of the Totality is not going to know how the National Intranet operates or how it functions from a technical standpoint. That is an understandable constraint which can be tolerated, even in Scenario 1999. What it must expect from the Totality is their willingness to contribute to the overall national cyberdefenses of the National Intranet. Those pursuing Computer Science, Computer Programming, and Computer Engineering, if they have no intentions of volunteering for the armed forces, intelligence services, or the Armaments Industry of the Military-Industrial Complex, can be assured the expectation of being able to serve their drafts in peace at the University. Their training and education, thanks to the distinctive design of the SSE and its Student Tournament, are closely integrated into the classroom curriculum.

The operation of the key areas of the National Intranets, such as the Intranet Service Providers or the LERE Refineries, need personnel who have the composure and the training to defend them. It takes more than just having the post-secondary education required to operate the digital infrastructure. Most hackers of Scenario 1999 are unlike those found on the WWW. The ones in the WWW, if they are not cybercriminals or cyberterrorists, behave more like mercenaries who can be hired to test the strength and integrity of cyberdefenses. In Scenario 1999, most hackers have actual Vocations in the Digital Realm and they are also committed to real causes back in the Real World. Their Profession is a particularly dangerous one in wartime because, if captured in the Real World, they will be tried and convicted by what International Law designates as “Unlawful Combatants.” That status, one ought to realize, is shared by such luminaries as spies, saboteurs, terrorists, mercenaries, and child soldiers, all of whom will not be allowed the dignity of being treated as Prisoners of War (POWs).

It is because of the fact that hackers in Scenario 1999 are treated as Unlawful Combatants by the World State Organization (WSO) that there is always a guaranteed Vocation waiting for them at the either Council State or Military-Industrial Complex. As the Soviet Union had learned from its own treatment of Soviet Computer Scientists, Computer Programmers and Computer Engineers, these people can and will take their Vocations elsewhere. If they cannot find their Vocations in other countries, some will resort to cybercrime, establishing a Shadow Economy (a “Black Market”) dealing in Malware.    

Even so, the Work-Standard benefits hackers no differently that the rest of their Totality and State. Granted, this is assuming the persons in question are not script kiddies who had just learned how to code and is relying on Malware developed by the real professionals. The people that I am talking about are the ones who know for a fact that their Vocations in Life are in hacking because they just simply cannot see themselves doing anything else. Over the course of the next Entry, we will be exploring how hackers can find their true Vocations on the National Intranet: contributing Military Arbeit and Military Geld as well as Digital Arbeit and Digital Geld to the Life-Energy Reserve.

Categories: Digital Realm

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