A post on the Cyber Security Intelligence website "Cyber Warfare, Intelligence & Malware" describes how digital disruption is changing espionage and intelligence collection. Instead of the secret agents we've seen in movies and television, cyberspace is where the action is. Assassinations are carried out by drones. Machines spy on systems, people and conversations. Artificial intelligence is used to monitor, collect and analyze information.
Instead of breaking into a room as in 1972's Watergate, today's "burglars" will break into an email server or corporate network to steal information. Cyber attacks on political parties and officials have escalated from spear phishing to cyber monitoring and possibly to altering election results.
In 1995 less than 0.5% of the world's population was connected to the Internet; now it's 48%. Internet protocols have not kept pace. In the next 10 years almost 7 billion people will be using the internet. By the end of this year there will be 50 billion connected devices, from cars and trains to tennis rackets and toasters.
The spread of digital technology has made it increasingly accessible to criminals and extremists. In addition to malware which as its name implies intends to inflict harm, spyware gathers information without a user's knowledge or consent and can be embedded in computer programs as well as downloaded later. Advertisers use software to direct users to their sites.
Cyber warfare is the most dangerous use of information technology. Nation states and international organizations are using it today. Cyber war is inexpensive, and any nation or group could use it. Electronic voting systems are often old and vulnerable and can easily be breached. Some are so unsophisticated that a high school student could compromise a county election (potentially affecting state and national results) with equipment costing less than $100.
The post concludes "this next revolution will challenge the economic implications of the nation state". We should all be concerned.