Hackers and online vigilantes blur the distinction between cyberwar and extremist advocacy.
Chief of cybersecurity at the NSA believes it is foolish for vigilantes to join a nation-state attack. According to reports, hundreds of thousands of volunteers have responded to Ukraine’s appeal for digital talent and cyber professionals. Crowdsourced initiatives blur the boundary between classic cyber operations and fringe advocacy in an increasingly digital economy. In times of grave risk, they might potentially impede discussions and de-escalation.
The IT army resembles volunteers who physically came to Ukraine and took up weapons despite government warnings and danger. However, hacking from home provides a feeling of security that cannot be found on the front lines. Kevin Mandia: “The genie is out of the bottle in terms of cyber revealing the intentions of those who want to promote certain agendas.” According to the chief executive officer of the American cybersecurity company Mandiant, such interference might be deadly.