The Art of Cyberwar

The Art of Cyberwar

2 500 years ago, the general and military strategist Sun Tzu wrote the book The Art of War. It is a classic book on military strategy which is still being referenced at military schools around the world 

Let’s reflect on what has changed since then. Are Sun Tzu’s wisdoms still relevant? One major difference is technology and weapons, which of course has evolved over the years. However, there are similarities here as well. Thicker armor is followed by heavier guns. Just as in the days of Sun Tzu.  

The principle of using combined weapons such as direct and indirect fire is similar. In the case of Sun Tzu it was swords combined with bows and arrows. Today it can be tanks combined with artillery.  

Technology did bring new dimensions to the battlefield with for example the introduction of the air force. Especially once ground and air forces were used together in joint military operations.  

In the last decade we have witnessed the birth of yet another dimension, Cyberwarfare. 

Will this be a revolution making Sun Tzu’s principles obsolete?  

The greatest victory is that which requires no battle” -Sun Tzu 

Who would not want to put the enemy forces out of action without firing a single shot and without having to risk getting killed in a tank duel or such? This should be tempting enough for states to invest quite a lot in building such capabilities. I think cyberwarfare will move closer and closer to being able to compete with conventional weapons and provide similar effects. In the short term it’s likely that cyberwarfare will be used as a complement to support conventional warfare. Maybe victories will be won without a battle by using cyberattacks as a deterrent.  

So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” -Sun Tzu  

If the enemy have thicker armor you need a heavier gun? Maybe not if you think outside the box to get inside the box. There are antennas and cables open for 0’s and 1’s to flow straight through that thick armor, into the heart of, for example, a tank. The evolution towards more digital and connected vehicles increases the attack surface and makes them more vulnerable for cyberattacks.  

“To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” -Sun Tzu 

It is time to act and ensure that there are no weak spots in your defense. The traditional armor needs to be complemented with Cyber Armor. So, does that mean that you even need to have cybersecurity embedded in your vehicles?  Yes, Sun Tzu was right, don’t provide the enemy with the opportunity to defeat you. From now on there will also be a constant battle between more effective cybersecurity solutions and more advanced cyberattacks.  

“We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.” -Sun Tzu 

Today a weapon is not crafted by one single weapon smith. High tech weapons and vehicles are complex systems built up with components from many different vendors and produced in different countries. This opens the risk for Supply Chain Attacks. All sub-suppliers may not have the same level of security in their production which could result in backdoors, infected software or intentional vulnerabilities.  

Clavister is proud to be a trusted supplier of cybersecurity solutions to the defense industry including Swedish Cyber Armor for vehicles. Being a fully Swedish company makes us the independent alternative. Security By Sweden. 

“Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small” –Sun Tzu 

To conclude I think many of Sun Tzu’s wisdoms still are valid and that Cyberwarfare is yet another dimension which will co-exist with conventional warfare. However, it will evolve fast. It’s important to start implementing proper protection today in order to start the journey, build competence and be prepared for future threats.  

Read more in our White Paper “The birth of the Swedish Cyber Armor”