Behind the scenes of the recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip a cyber war has also been going on. Israeli hackers penetrated and paralyzed the website of The Hamas Interior Ministry on 18 November, while Israeli Finance Minister Steinitz said: “Beyond the main military battlefield, there is a secondary arena. Israel has been under unprecedented cyber attack.” These attacks include those from international activists, including the Anonymous network.
In general, cyber warfare is rapidly become an integral part of (armed) conflicts. This prompts more and more governments to elaborate their cyber strategies, aiming not only at protecting digital data and infrastructure, but also at developing their own offensive cyber capabilities.
Last June the Dutch Ministry of Defence presented its Defence Cyber Strategy, which called for the development of an offensive cyber capability “which can act as a force multiplier, to increase the effectiveness of the armed forces.” A special ‘Taskforce Cyber‘ is working to set up a Defence Cyber Expertise Center and a Defence Cyber Commando in the next two years. Colonel Hans Folmer, leader of the Taskforce, said: “We must be able to launch attacks in cyberspace”. Amidst large general austerity measures the Dutch government is planning to spend some 90 million euros on this in the next five years.
Increasingly spending on cyber warfare capabilities is a global trend. The international cyber security market is expected to grow to over 120 billion dollars in 2017, almost doubling its value from the 64 billion dollars spend in 2011.
For arms companies this means there is a new large market to enter, and they are eager to join. In April of this year for example, EADS created the new company ‘Cassidian CyberSecurity‘, aiming to penetrate the cyber security market in Europe and the Middle East. By 2017 it should have a market share of at least 500 million dollars. Stefan Zoller, CEO of Cassidian (the major military part of EADS) said: “The creation of Cassidian CyberSecurity reinforces Cassidian’s strategy in security, in which it already has strong dedicated capabilities. This market segment is very dynamic and we expect significant growth.”
Cassidian is already an major international player in the fields of homeland and border security, expecting to gain 50% of its total revenues from security markets, up from 20% in 2009.
Prior to the launch of its cybersecurity company Cassidian already won some large cyber contracts in 2011, including the maritime surveillance programme SPATIONAV V2 and a network serving all units of the national gendarmerie force in France. Cassidian also provides cryptography for the UK and an unnamed Middle Eastern government, while the German armed forces are using its Secure Exchange Gateway (SECCOM®) to secure data exchange between different classified networks.
One of the ways Cassidian CyberSecurity is trying to expand is business is by acquisitions and by forming strategic partnerships with other companies. This strategy so far has resulted in the acquisition of French IT-company Netasq and in strategic partnerships with AXA Matrix Risk Consultants and Fondation Télécom.
In a separate move, at the Farnborough Air Show last July Cassidian and EADS North America joined forces with fellow defence company ITT Exelis to provide enhanced electronic warfare systems. One of the first contracts it is hoping for is a missile approach warning systems for the U.S. Air National Guard.
[MA, 23 November 2012]