Anonymous, the hacker collective, is currently attacking Israel on behalf of Palestine. Israeli officials say the country has been hit with 44 million cyberattacks since the conflict began last week.
It seems that a future in which an army of armchair warriors fighting for whichever side they believe in from the comfort of their own living roomsis upon us. It’s the democratization of cyberwarfare.
Members of Anonymous have been shutting down and defacing Israeli websites including government sites. How effective they’ve been depends on whom you ask (Israeli officials predictably say not at all, while Anonymous insists the opposite). But either way, it’s reasonable to assume that over time, hackers might become more effective, or at least better organized and trained and taking part in conflicts a world away.
"The war is being fought on three fronts," Carmela Avner, Israel's chief information officer, said in a press release. "The first is physical, the second is the world of social networks and the third is cyberattacks."
If anyone, with some shared knowledge, an Internet connection, and ability to evade detection for even a few moments can launch an attack, does that turn us all into potential mercenaries? If “mercenary” ever starts appearing as a task on Elance or under the “skills and expertise” section of people's LinkedIn profiles, it will be a scary day.
It could turn every conflict into a world war, for which the only answer is more (cyber)security ... or less conflict.