The next generation battlefield is quickly evolving, cyber warfare is that new battleground and Japan is building its defenses. Hacking of government servers is no longer the domain of the lone wolf hacker, instead these are the acts of the governments of the world. The cyber arms race is well underway and those who are unprepared will be left in the dark.
The Japanese government is well aware of this new battle field, and is making preparations. Fujitsu has been put to work developing the cyber defense weapon on behalf of the Japanese Defense Ministry. The development of the Fujitsu virus – F-Virus -began in 2008 with the aim of being able to halt and trace any malicious software that may be attacking Japanese government servers. The F-Virus has so far been tested in a limited offline network, there are legal challenges to overcome before it can be let loose on the world. With an estimated cost of $2.3 million the F-Virus is possibly cheapest weapons development program in history.
The virus itself has been designed to be non-destructive, although all security experts agree that any virus can have potentially damage effects, even if just through bugs and errors in the code, there can unintentional consequences. As a defensive virus, F-Virus hunts for malicious programs shutting them down and tracing across multiple machines to the source of a cyber attack. While following an attack the virus is able to disable the malicious virus, cleaning up as it goes along. The ability to install itself as on each machine it traces through is essential for it to function but is one of those potentially dangerous functions that can have unintentional consequences.
According to reports from Japan’s local media the Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry have begun legislative consideration regarding the matter. As it stands Japanese legislation makes it illegal to write and release a virus in Japan, there is no differentiation between a good virus or a bad virus. So the F-Virus will stay in the lab until Japan’s laws catch up with technology.
Stuxnet is the most famous cyber weapon so far. Security experts believe the United States designed and programmed this cyber-weapon. An extremely complex piece of programming estimates suggest that a team of 30 people would have taken 6 months to program, putting it out of reach of a lone wolf programmer. The virus was it seems a very targeted attack, aimed at the a number of Iranian Nuclear facilities, including the Natanz facility where centrifuges are used to purify uranium. The specific objective seems to have been to slow down the Iranian Nuclear Program. By all accounts this was achieved with an almost immediate production drop of 30%. No nation has officially accepted responsibility for the virus.
Possibly the most unusual aspect of Japan’s F-Virus is the fact that secrecy doesn’t seem to have been a high priority, leaking information is not good a operating procedure for a countries defenses. Similar to the invention of the aircraft and its early evolution in the war machine during WW I and WW II governments are having to learn the strategies of this new battlefield, Japan it seems is going through that process at the moment.
The cold war of the new century is well underway and the soldiers don’t even need to leave their couch. There are no guns or bullets involved, simply electrons flying around the wires of technology that criss crosses our connected world. Controlling these electrons and the technology they drive is the ultimate goal.
Source: Daily Yomiuri