What is the difference between cybersecurity and cyberwarfare?

May 13, 2022

Tags: IT Staff Augmentation



Attacks on computer systems and websites are becoming more common and dangerous. Data theft from companies has generated millions of dollars in losses in recent years, so strengthening cybersecurity is one of the most important steps that every industry must take.


But what are we talking about when we say cybersecurity? Cisco defines it as “the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These cyberattacks are often aimed at accessing, modifying or destroying sensitive information; extort money from users; or disrupting normal business processes.”


They go on to say “implementing effective cybersecurity measures is particularly challenging today because there are more devices than people and attackers are becoming more innovative.”


What is cyberwar?


When we talk about cyberwar we are referring to a completely different attack. It is precisely cybersecurity that must be implemented to avoid the attacks that can come with a cyberwar, which as defined by Tech Target, is "the use of cyberattacks against a nation-state, causing significant damage, up to and including the physical warfare, disruption of vital computer systems, and loss of life.”


It cannot be a war without the use of weapons, in cyberwar, these are the ones that play this role:


  • Viruses, phishing, computer worms, and malware can cause damage to key infrastructure.
  • DDoS attacks can block access to computer networks or essential equipment for certain users.
  • The theft of confidential data from institutions, governments, and companies.
  • Cyber ​​espionage triggers information theft and compromises national security and stability.
  • Spreading or sharing false information that can cause chaos.


The goal of a cyberwar boils down to weakening or destroying some other nation. To achieve this, they plan to attack targets that represent a wide repertoire of objectives in one and that greatly affect the nation and its interests.


The threats of a cyberwar range from propaganda on social networks, to espionage and chaos that affect the infrastructure of a nation and cause loss of life.


Main differences between cybersecurity and cyberwarfare


What differentiates one from the other is in its name: cybersecurity elements are applied precisely to avoid the attacks and consequences of a cyberwar, whether in an entire nation or a company as a target.


US Lieutenant Gregory Conti, who coordinates cybersecurity and cyber warfare studies at the US Military Academy, believes the two are "basically the same thing," making it clear how similar the two terms are.


“Cybersecurity is the set of tools, policies, security concepts, security guarantees, guidelines, risk management approaches, actions, training, best practices, safeguards, and technologies that can be used to protect the cyber environment and cyber assets. the organization and the user” says the lieutenant, thus separating cybersecurity from cyber warfare, which refers to attacks.




Types of attacks in a cyberwar




In recent years, cybercriminals, as people who commit cyber attacks are called, have been attacking key infrastructures for certain nations, in addition to stealing confidential data from companies, all this to cause destabilization in daily processes and in the daily life of the common citizen, thus achieving one of its objectives.




When a cyberattack sabotages government or company-specific computer systems, it is used to support other conventional attack methods. These attacks on computerized systems sabotage communications, contaminate software and put the company and national security at risk.


Data theft


Hacking into computers and systems to steal data is one of the most common types of cyberattacks and has been around since the invention of the internet. It is used to sell sensitive data on the black market, to blackmail, to expose scandals by a nation or company, and even for its total destruction in the public eye.


Outstanding examples of a cyberwar


Throughout history, there have been several attacks that can be considered a cyberwar against certain companies or governments, these have stood out and monopolized the news at the time:




Hackers associated with the North Korean government were blamed for a cyberattack on Sony Pictures after Sony released the movie The Interview, which portrayed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a negative light, all in a satirical manner, but this did not go down well in that nation


The Federal Bureau of Investigation found that the malware used in the attack included lines of code, encryption algorithms, data removal methods, and compromised networks that were similar to malware previously used by North Korean hackers.


United States presidential election - 2016


Much was said about this incident, where the Russian government apparently intervened in the outcome of these elections, where Donald Trump was the winner. A report by special adviser Robert Mueller determined that the Russians were involved in an information war.


Mueller's report found that Russia used social media accounts and interest groups to alter the political climate in the US using what he called "information warfare." The operation began by discrediting the electoral system in 2014 to more explicit activities designed to benefit candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 election, according to the report.


These are just examples of how a cyberwar can have a serious impact on people's daily lives. At Rootstack, we have a team of experts trained to offer the cybersecurity that your company needs in the face of these attacks.


We recommend you on video