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The Code War

How America Could Wage Cyberwar On Syria

The war drums are beating for an American attack on Syria... and experts are debating what covert actions Pentagon cyberwarriors will take.

How America Could Wage Cyberwar On Syria

It's looking increasingly likely that the United States will launch a military attack on the Assad government in Syria. Apart from the Obama administration, major figures in both parties have given their support to a Syrian intervention. It's also likely that any standard attack on Syria will be backed by covert electronic warfare. But unlike the Syrian Electronic Army's attacks on American financial and media institutions, American efforts are likely to directly target the government.

The Hill's Brendan Sasso spoke with three experts about what they expect for American cyberwarfare in Syria. Jim Lewis, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said cyberwar against Syria was a "certainty."

But what form will these Internet attacks take? Chris Finan of the Truman National Security Project, said agencies like the NSA would likely take the lead in any anti-Syria attacks. Of course, there's already speculation that the NSA, the Defense Department, and other government entities are covertly attacking Syrian interests online as we speak. Finan and Lewis both believe American hackers will target high-level computers and the accounts of prominent officials in order to gain intelligence on the enemy.

Another expert, Adam Segal of the Council on Foreign Relations, told Sasso it was unlikely America would use viruses or hacking to take down Syrian air defense systems. "I just think taking air defense out with a cruise missile is faster and easier. If it is a virus, eventually they could get the virus out, and they could put the air defenses back up. If you blow it up, it's gone," he said.

Segal added that cyberwar efforts on the American government's part in Syria would likely be covert and unpublicized.

[Image: Flickr user New York National Guard]