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2008 Cyber-attack on the United States 1

2008 Cyber-attack on the United States




2008 Cyber-attack on the United States 2

Essay Question


The development of United State cyber command was as result of the 2008 Cyber-attack on

the United States (Wilson 2008). This attack was rated as one of the worst breach of U.S.

military computers ever recorded in history. The attack commenced with use of USB flash drive

infected with malicious code on one of the computers connected to the United States central


Victim, attacker, and motivation for the attack

The United States of America was the victim in the 2008 Cyber-attack on the United

States and in particular the attack was made on the U.S. Department of military classified and

unclassified files (Solce 2008). The aim of the attack was to transfer data from the military

computers to unknown under foreign control and brake into the USA network. Some of the data

of interest to the attackers included weapons blueprints, surveillance data and operational plans

all falling under classified and unclassified systems. Basing on the location of the servers the US

government reported that it was possible that the attack was initiated in Russia (Sanger 2012).

Although the actual individuals involved in the activities were not reveal because it remained


Nature and sophistication of the attack

The attackers had high level of sophistication to allow them to spread the global worm or

virus through military classified and unclassified systems undetected by using an infected USB

flash drive plugged into one U.S. military laptop. Furthermore they gained access the files

without being caught and clear track. The attackers used the global worm or virus on the
2008 Cyber-attack on the United States 3

classified and unclassified and create a digital beachhead which was used to transfer data from

US servers to the foreign controlled servers.

The desired outcome of the attack

The first intention of the attacker was to introduce the global worm or global worm or

virus in the U.S. servers to provide them with access. The attackers also had an intention of

accessing US military classified and unclassified systems and communicate with the US military

servers. They also wanted to go ahead and transfer files for the US military servers into their own


Success level

The attacker had high success rate, first of all in introduction of the global worm or

global worm or virus into the US servers. Second step involved the spread of the global worm or

global worm or virus to other military networks without any detection and attach itself to the

military classified and unclassified systems from a single military laptop connected to the

system. The last step after access to the classified and unclassified information was the transfer

of the information to server that they operated. Hence the attack resulted to dangerous cyber-

attack in the history of the U.S. Both hence the attackers were able to communicate the

classified and unclassified infected systems to their own foreign servers and mine out the

information contained in them. Although the extent of the information obtained by the attackers

was not disclosed however it was assumed to be of substance to attract attention of the official.

The attacked was lunched on the computers in US Central Command use to monitor Iraq and

Afghanistan region.
2008 Cyber-attack on the United States 4

Effectiveness of attackers in covering their tracks

Defense Secretary Lynn indicated that the infected USB flash drive was able to spread

the infection just through one computer connected to the server without detection (Choo and "

2008). The global worm or virus infected and allowing the foreign servers to communicate,

expose and share the classified and unclassified information undetected. The attackers use on of

the service members to input the global worm or virus into the US system through flash drive.

The attack cause was inform of a global worm or global worm or virus that spread so fast to

other military networks.

Response of the victim

When the attack was detected the Pentagon's operation was launched to counter it this

operation was known as the Operation Buckshot Yankee (Korns and Kastenberg 2008). The

quick response to the attack included ban of use of external hardware such as recordable DVDs,

CDs and portable flash drives on the military computers although this was latter modified. This

operation was the turning point for U.S on the cyber defense strategy and was a landmark. To

respond to the attack the Pentagon created a layered and strong defense all-round the military

networks to prevent against any future attack. In addition the country also inaugurated a new

body in charge of the cybercrime which was fitted to be part of the military operation the body

was named as U.S. Cyber Command. The U.S secretary of defense Robert Gates tasked the

merging of the task forces to form a single four-star command named the U.S. Cyber Command.

U.S. Cyber Command as part of the government Strategic began operations in May 2010.

October. Another long term strategy involved the Department of Homeland Security assist in

protection of government networks and critical infrastructure. The U.S also expanded to work

with the close allies to expand the protection against the cyber-attack and improve defense
2008 Cyber-attack on the United States 5

internationally. After the attack country effort begun to be focused more on active defense

systems to prevent an attack from occurring rather than waiting for attack and conducting a

counter attack. The Cyber Command are o watch for any malware or trial to connect to any

untrusted servers (Lawson 2011).

2008 Cyber-attack on the United States 6

Case Study


In pursuing its political goals China identified the inadequate effectiveness of nuclear and

conventional military force. Hence China prepared a new strategy which they named as the

three warfares which involved the psychological, media, and legal (Lee 2014). Through this

new strategy china utilize new military technology that has never been used or considered in the

past by the western country (Cheng 2012).

Victim, attacker, and motivation for the attack

In the the three warfares the victim was identified to been the western country and in

particular the United State of America and its supporters such as Japan and the Philippines. The

attacker behind the three warfares was China. China wanted to drive the United States of

America out of the control of the Asia and in control of the Asia Sea and coast. The china

narrated that United States of America and the military does not have the capacity to deal with

the non-kinetic warfare tactics and that the U.S military academy does not prepare its soldiers

with the ability to deal with such warfare (Hawkins 2000). The Chinese are motivated by the

goal to limit the United States of America surveillance operations by harassment of ships and

aircraft and further be able to restrict deployment of the U.S. Navy to that particular region.

China are also aiming at using the psychological warfare to demoralize, discourage and even

oppress their opponent country as well as the civilian population hence disabling the opponent

from fighting with them.

It is also reported that china had employed use of the Three Warfares to many of its

dispute an example of such dispute is the risky encounter between Chinese and the U.S. warships
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and the encounter of the midair collision between the Chinese jet and the U.S. surveillance plane

this and many more example lead to aggressiveness in various of China in the east and south

china sea.

Nature and sophistication of the attack

In this war the Chinese strategists involved use of psychological, media, and legal which

were long-term strategies. This strategies involved use of the Non-violent mitigation to provide

solution for existing problem such strategies included media manipulation, intimidation,

financial attacks, information isolation, economic sanctions and network attacks were all tactics

that could be employed (Thomas 2003). The strategy also known to include use of diplomatic

pressure, harassment to express displeasure, rumor, false narratives and convey threats.

The use of this strategies by china provided a threat to U.S and limited the U.S military

powers in this particular region through determining the operations that disrupt ties between

south china seas littoral states and U.S. Hence preventing U.S military from accessing and

providing basing facilities and other facilities. Chinas high-technology arms, such as anti-

satellite missiles and cyber warfare have high capacities and are arms intended to thwart the U.S.

military from entering the region or operating freely there. As it was letter termed that the pen

had more power than the sword, a similar projection was also placed on the three warfares. It

was indicated that this tactic would enable china expand its territorial and maritime boundaries

better through this tactics rather than any missile or aircraft carriers owned.

Desired outcome of the attack

China had wage a war with U.S to find a way of pushing them out of south china.

However the tactic used in this war was non- violent war in which they aimed at exposing U.S
2008 Cyber-attack on the United States 8

military as being incapable of solving the problems rising the south and east china sea. The china

had indicated that the lethal warfare approach was not applicable hence they developed a three

division strategies to counter the presence of U.S in this particular region (Walton 2012). The

china aimed at finding a non-lethal solution to ever occurring conflict and to advance its own

territory in the seas especially south and eastwards.

Success of attack

China had indicated the non-applicability of nuclear weapons in solving conflicts.

Therefore, the change towards the use of Three Warfares was formed based on this argument.

The main aim of the tactic was to enable china to acquire more resource, expand its territory and

increase the influence of China. The use of this tactic has seen the U.S who was the main target

change the way it faces the challenge particularly in the south and east china.

Effectiveness of the attackers in covering their tracks

In this particular war between china and the U.S. the war track were not necessary to

cover since the china could openly claim certain issue with aim of undermining their authority in

the region and sea area.

Victim response

The U.S. military strategy had to change from the industrial age to the information age

with the implementation of the three warfares by the Chinese. The war found American an off

guard position and they had to find way to cope up with the new development. However
2008 Cyber-attack on the United States 9

American have ignored the war and have not developed any countervailing strategy to try

mitigate the problem.

2008 Cyber-attack on the United States


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