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Thailand’s military cyber-warfare unit part of a growing trend

The Thai army is the latest of a growing number worldwide being conscripted to fight a most untraditional enemy
Thai soldiers stand guard at a roadblock outside the Defense Ministry building (background) after Thailand's army chief announced that the armed forces were seizing power, in Bangkok on May 22, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/Christophe Archambault)
Thai soldiers stand guard at a roadblock outside the Defense Ministry building (background) after Thailand's army chief announced that the armed forces were seizing power, in Bangkok on May 22, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/Christophe Archambault)

The many challenges posed by the computerized world and especially the cyber-world, require the individual, the organization and the country to protect themselves at different levels.

Within this framework, countries are creating military and civilian agencies that engage in warfare and cyber defense, as well as policy formulation and carrying appropriate exercises.

On February 9, a cell communication website posted that the Thai army began recruiting professionals for the cyber warfare unit of the Thai army, so that they will deal with cyber security.

Colonel Chatchai Chaikaseam, the unit director, revealed at the recent Meet the Hacker 2015 conference in Bangkok, that the army is recruiting seven officers that will lead his unit combined military operations, commencing February 15. Responsibilities include penetration testing, forensic digital research, and cyber security auditing.

It was reported that in January, the Thai Cabinet approved ten controversial cyber-related laws. One of these, a cyber-security law, will empower the government to develop “supervision against threats to national security, economy, military and stability.” In accordance with Article 35 of this law, the government will be able to access all private data from all types of media devices.

This unit of the Thai army joins a long list of civilian and military agencies around the world to address the many facets of the challenges of this space. A special pan-European task force within the framework of Europol is set to coordinate international investigations and to act against the threat of cyber-crime and elite targets, in cooperation with European countries and the United States. In addition to Thailand, the UK is also establishing a military unit to protect the country’s critical infrastructures and combat cyber-crime. A cyber-defense unit has been established in Latvia, and the French army is also said to possess cyber-warfare capabilities.

States in the Middle East are also preparing to deal with cyber-crime and cyber-warfare. The Turkish Army has set up a military unit to fight cyber-warfare. Jordan has also established a cyber-warfare center, with the goal to fight threats to the financial sector in Jordan and to defend its national security. Iran has also set up a regional headquarters in order to be ready to fight a cyber-war.

As part of its national defense policy, Pakistan also accords great importance to cyber-security, and has developed its cyber-strategy in order to deal with attacks or intrusions from different countries in its critical infrastructures. Saudi Arabia also has begun a national program of cyber defense to protect the Kingdom, while Egypt has approved a convention with the Arab states to fight “technological crimes.” NATO has also announced its intention to add the issue of cyber-attacks on the list of threats that could trigger a collective response. Germany has announced plans to develop a more thorough law to deal with cyber-security. Kuwait expressed its desire to increase cyber-security, along with training officials to deal with security threats and other energy infrastructure in the country.

In recent months, many countries and organizations have held exercises and simulations to protect themselves efficiently from any kind of cyber-attack. The largest exercise was held in the European Union, and included 29 countries. In Africa, a large exercise was held in Zambia, called “Zambia Act 1,” with 18 African countries participating. Turkey also conducted an exercise with the participation of 15 countries, and Iran and Japan held their first-ever exercises simulating a cyber-attack on their infrastructures.

All these simulations and exercises indicates a growing important in the world for cyber-security, and states seems more than concerned with potential multi-effects of cyber-attacks and their impact on the daily lives of the citizens. They indicate a growing importance in the world countries consider these challenges and the many and diverse activities in renewable, challenging and multi-effects on the life of every individual in the modern state.

About the Author
Tal Pavel, PhD, of Bar Ilan University, is an expert on the Internet in the Middle East and the Islamic world. He lectures at Netanya College's School of Communications. He is the founder and director of MiddleEasterNet, which researches and advises on online threats from the Middle East and Islamic world. Dr. Pavel has also worked in numerous capacities in the Israeli high-tech world over the previous decade, and has published numerous papers in his area of expertise.
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