“We are underestimating cyber warfare”
06:01:00 | 27-06-2011

In the past days, American government agencies and Google have been suffered from cyber attacks which are said to stem from China. In response, the Pentagon has declared that America will use military in respond to the cyber attacks if they bring about serious consequences. In other movement, NATO has said that the alliance is planning to establish an emergency response team to deal with cyber attacks. The movements of NATO and the US show the fear of cyber warfare.

To help readers understand more about cyber warfare, we have had an interview with Mr Nguyen Minh Duc, Director of Bkav Security.

Currently, American government agencies and NATO are suffering from many cyber attacks. In your opinion, what are the purposes of the attacks?

In reality, the penetration attacks to steal confidential data of government agencies have been increasing in the recent time. Current attacks which target at NATO and American government are not exceptions.

All the attacks aim at stealing confidential data of nations through the government agency systems. On penetrating, hackers try to install malicious code onto the system to penetrate deeper into the system, await for outbreak moment. It shows that the attacks are not to make impression, but for political purposes.       

However, according to Bkav, these attacks are not for destructive purposes but to steal data. In other words, this is just a pilot period for later cyber warfare.

How many cyber attacks with political purposes have been recorded? Could you please name some typical attacks?

Cyber warfare often occurs among hacker groups from different countries.

The first recorded cyber attack with political purpose was the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) targeting at Estonian government system starting on April 27, 2007. In the attack, government websites, banks and schools in Estonia were paralyzed for 3 weeks, causing certain damages.

The attack was said to be performed by Russian hacker groups. It was the response to the action of moving the Red Army statue out of Estonia's capital.

However, the attack that drew governments' attention to cyber warfare was the one targeting at series of American and Korean government websites in 2009.

In the attack, hackers also used DDoS method to disrupt important government websites in both America and Korea.

After the attack, the governments recognized the potential danger of DDoS attacks and the impacts of these attacks on important infrastructures as well as the government system operation.

Since then, many countries started to promote the force named Cyber command with the purpose of defending and counter the cyber attacks from other countries.

Could you please tell me more clearly about the consequences of cyber warfares towards countries?

The nature of cyber warfare is using communications network to damage important infrastructure of countries by stealing, deleting data or paralyzing the control centers in order to cause chaos in the opponent country. For example, hackers can attack to take control of the control centers of electricity, water, traffic flow or even nuclear power plant.

We can see the dangers when these agencies are taken control. In the past, the consequence of cyber attacks is visible as in the case of virus Stuxnet which was infected into the Iran nuclear power plant and turned off some nuclear power enriching combinations of this country.

In your opinion, what should Vietnam do to prepare for cyber warfarefare?

It is necessary for the Internet security agencies to check the scenes of the attacks, double-check the system to fix vulnerabilities as well as deal with possible malicious codes and spywares installed after the attacks. The measures may include reconfiguring server, turning off unnecessary services and setting up strong password systems for the servers.

The government should clearly distinguish the roles of the relevant departments taking part in cyber attack prevention to avoid overlapping work among agencies, reducing the joint-effort of counter-cyber attacks. In other words, government should have a consistent internet security policy.

In long terms, the government should build a set of standards regulating information safety and security before establishing a website, as well as a regularly check mechanism which can timely detect the risks or vulnerabilities that can be taken advantage in cyber attacks.

We should not underestimate the vulnerabilities of small websites, because hackers can absolutely take advantage of these vulnerabilities to penetrate into the server system and then attack bigger websites.

Thank you for spending your time!