Cyber War is becoming less and less about nations planning to bring down each other via Internet based attacks, and more about growing efforts to steal valuable information. Most of the action here appears to be carried out by professional hackers, seeking information they can resell. Not just credit card data and personal information for identity theft, but commercial information that other companies, or governments, will pay for. The thieves try to avoid detection while sneaking in and stealing data, both to avoid getting tracked down and prosecuted, and to make it easier to go back and get more goodies. But more and more of these thieves are being found out, and one of the primary tools for collecting information on these hackers is the Honey pot. These devices have come of age in the last decade. A Honey pot is an Internet server (PC a Website is running on) that looks real, and an attractive target, but is carefully monitored to record everything an attacking hacker does. This way, computer security researchers can collect information on the Internet criminals and have a better chance of hunting them down. It’s not practical to put the monitoring software on every site. Bank and high-security government servers have substantial defenses that monitor any (well nearly any) penetration and shut down if any unauthorized entry is detected. This doesn’t help to identify attacking hackers, but all these sites want to do is remain secure, not play cop.
Meanwhile, the Internet has become a battlefield between evil hackers (the black hats) and their equally determined opponents the good hackers (the white hats, who work for the government, large companies and computer security firms). The battle often involves military sites, and national security. That’s no accident. The Internet was designed so that it would be invulnerable in nuclear war. The net software was put together in the open, often by volunteers. Few of the net’s authors thought their creation would become a worldwide electronic superhighway with more than a billion users.