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State-sponsored hackers: hybrid armies?

30 January 2015
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Cyber-attacks are rarely disconnected from political realities. CyberBerkut – a pro-Russian group of ‘patriot’ hackers – has, for example, hacked German government websites in retaliation for the political support offered to Kiev by Berlin. The Syrian Electronic Army – a hacker collective thought to be linked to Syrian President Bassar al-Assad – regularly targets Western media outlets, most recently Le Monde.

Due to this blurring of the virtual and physical worlds, governments, which are familiar with stateless actors such as al-Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), may now have to learn to deal with equally hostile, amorphous and often state-sponsored ‘hacktors’.