The American cybersecurity firm Mandiant, released a detailed study that claims to have tracked thousands of Cyber attacks on American industries, businesses, government, and military targets since 2013. According to RCP (Real Clear Politics) the attacks originated from the secret cyber corps of the Chinese government.

Scope, range & intent

With the recent concern about wiretapping, Russian hacking, and collusion being an ongoing issue among both Democratic and Republican party members; the notion and possibilities of destructive intent from cyber attacks are innumerable.

The widespread knowledge of the technological information is an assurance that cyber attacks will grow. The following incidents give reference to the scope, range, and intent of numerous recorded attacks.

Moonlight Maze was the code name for a long-term infiltration of American defense institutions, which lasted from 1998 until it was discovered late in 1999. The computer systems of the Pentagon, NASA, the Department of Energy, and leading research universities were compromised by cyber attackers operating from somewhere inside the former Soviet Union. Thousands of sensitive files, including maps of American military installations around the world, troop configurations, doctrine, and blueprints of military hardware was accessed.

Titan Rain was the code name U.S. investigators gave to a series of widespread cyber espionage attacks on the American defense infrastructure, which took place roughly between 2000 and 2003. Targets such as NASA, Lockheed Martin--the largest defense contractor in the United States, and Redstone Arsenal--a focal point of the American missile defense system were compromised.

It is believed that the attacks originated in China.

In September 2007, Operation Orchard was the code name for the Israeli air force attack that destroyed a suspected nuclear installation in northeastern Syria. This action was successful because the Israelis triggered a secret kill-switch installed in the Syrian air defense system.

Cyber sophistication grows exponentially

Stuxnet is an advanced computer worm that was discovered in 2010. It infected the Iranian nuclear research facility. The virus forced a malfunction in certain nuclear centrifuges and succeeded in disabling nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges. According to the New York Times, in 2012, it was reported that "Stuxnet was part of a larger joint U.S.-Israeli intelligence operation called Operation Olympic Games, which began during the Bush administration and continued under President Obama." The Atlantic magazine reported that the attack set back Iran’s nuclear program by several years.

Last but not least there is Flame, also known as Skywiper. Its distinction is being the largest and most complex cyber-espionage attack ever.

The Flame virus monitors network traffic on any computer it infects and is capable of jumping from machine to machine with ease. It records keystrokes, screenshots, and communications going in and out of the machine it has infiltrated.

The bottom line

In the Autumn of 2012, a series of attacks on American banks caused major disruptions in service. Attackers hijacked entire computer servers and used them to overload the websites of U.S. Banks. Online banking capabilities were disabled for short periods and fund transfers were disrupted. Although no accounts were breached and no money was taken, American officials claimed that the attacks originated in Iran -- most likely as revenge for economic sanctions and cyberattacks on its nuclear program.

Whether accessing confidential information and disabling websites, to remotely shutting down air defenses and causing nuclear centrifuges to self-destruct, we have to come to terms with the reality - we are in an age of warfare; inasmuch as turnabout will become fair play—the creator will wreak havoc on the monster, and the monster on the creator. And as such, unexplainable events are destined to occur in any way conceivable to any cyber-connected institution of industry, government, or military prowess. The everyday bare essentials of a free society can easily be reverted to that of a third world nation. Rail systems, water systems, and food supply chains can all be compromised in the blink of an eye, or in other words, in a few keystrokes.