China’s internet infrastructure was hacked this week and the story immediately made me think of one frightening scenario: What if they did this to themselves? I’m not asserting that they did, but just exploring the possibility. China and Russia have both been known to perform real world military drills despite the inconvenience or impact to the civilian public.
Why would they? Well first it is common knowledge that China has been developing their information warfare capabilities. Performing such an attack lets them quantify in real world terms exactly how effective their attacks are. Next, it allows them to know and measure how resilient their infrastructure is to real world attacks. Lastly, it provides lessons learned to improve future attack methods and defense and resiliency.
The US has the most formidable military in the world not just because we spend the most on our military, but also because we are battle hardened. What does that mean? A military member’s career spans 20 years, but when was the last time we went 20 years without a conflict? That means every generation of our military is battle hardened. Every generation must test what they know about warfare and adapt it to the latest adversary, methods, and landscape. Did lessons learned from jungle fighting in Vietnam in the 60’s and 70’s help in Central America in the 80’s? Probably. Did that same knowledge help in Kuwait and Iraq in 1991 or in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 or 2003? Certainly not.
Why does this matter in a GRC blog? If China did this attack to themselves, the point was to make them battle hardened for cyber war. It’s scary that such a large and well-funded entity is preparing in this way, but let’s apply this to you. What can you do to become battle hardened? When was the last time you performed a continuity or recovery exercise? When was the last time you restored from backups? When was the last time you considered what you’re defending against? Do you ever adjust your posture? Are you prepared for a jungle fight in a desert fighting era?