Criminal elements like scammers, spammers, and botnet overlords using internet-based attacks are nothing new. Things got interesting last year, when an army of computers (which appeared to be controlled from Moscow) launched an attack against the government of Estonia, crippling their servers and forcing a shut down of international network access. It was the first incident on my radar where a national government was the target of a computer attack. Then, earlier this year, the US Air Force announced the formation of their Cyber Command, an attempt to build up our military’s capability to deal with internet- and computer-based threats, both defensively and offensively.
So criminals and national governments are putting together their attack armies to wage war on the internet. What’s new to me, however, is that some private companies are doing the same. Revision3, an internet television company, claimed that they were attacked over Memorial Day weekend by MediaDefender, a company that disrupts P2P networks in an attempt to discourage the spread of copyrighted works.
For years people have expected this day to come: real-life battles happening in cyberspace; and the internet is comparatively less safe than the places most (first-world) people are used to doing business. It will be an interesting evolution over the next few years to see how we as a society deal with this new frontier. The US military is justifyably concerned that foreign or domestic elements could use the internet to do serious harm to the US and our interests, but I’m now becomming aware that it isn’t just governments that need to be concerned. This incident will be an interesting test case to see if our laws and law enforcement agencies are strong enough to extend an arm of protection to legitimate businesses operating in American jurisdictions.