We are trying to hypothesize realistic scenarios based on existing or near by technologies between the two extreme and popular notions of cyber warfare- that promoted by Die Hard 4 and those who think it is only about bringing down databases.
A Cyberwar is like any war – it will have stages
Reconnaissance and Spying- Not just port sniffing or spear phishing, it will identify the primary and secondary targets in the first and second wave of attacks. It will include both civilian and military strategic targets as well as tactical ones.
For example- communication systems of military infantry and other ground forces are comparatively hardened , but completely disabling the military hospital infrastructure of a country is likely to have more psychological and impact effects. This could range from industrial machines to critical hardware all linked up nicely
The communication system of emergency services is more easily disrupted digitally and can cause more damage than military communication. A simple attack on phone systems for emergency calls (i.e 9-1-1 or 3-1-1 for West or 100 , 101, 102 for India)
This could also include databases on individuals to be targeted including their civilian family members. If you hack the Senator’s daughter Facebook account, trust me it is easier and just as much distracting than hacking the Senator’s website. A list of possible databases to be hacked have been written about here and here
Add oil producing grids, dams, electricity grids and water supplies for civilians to this list and you can see how even messing with the digital diagnostics of the infrastructure can impact the efficiency of enemy response.
So the next time you wear that Pirate Bay T Shirt and participate in the masked rally, know that you are not just protesting war you are unwillingly and unwittingly participating in one.