Daniel Moore, the author of a new book called Offensive Cyber Operations: Understanding Intangible Warfare, said the recent experience of the Ukraine conflict had shown that Russian cyber warriors with “vast technical capabilities” could be let down “on the operational side.”
Moore was speaking on Friday at a webinar hosted at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, by Conrad Prince, a former Director General for Operations at GCHQ.
Asked how China could use cyber warfare to assist its forces to invade Taiwan, Moore said China had “vast capacity … to accumulate zero day vulnerabilities.”
Moore, who is also the Threat Intelligence Manager at Meta, said: “Now, one of the interesting things about the Chinese is that they are in part an unknown quantity when it comes to execution. We have seen their intelligence operation fairly frequently and it’s very good. But as said, the capacity to execute and the effects to the intended consequence is challenging and untested largely for them.”
He said the whole People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was “uniformly building up” for conflict in Taiwan but he said: “A maritime invasion is probably one of the most intricate, complex strategic operations that one can try to accomplish, especially for an adversary that literally dedicates its entire military expenditure for this.”
“So how do you successfully do this in part you can try to maybe reduce the capacity of the defender to understand that you’re coming also through cyber operations targeting command and control networks, surveillance assets, intelligence networks, and even civilian infrastructure to produce their resilience and capacity to respond,” added Moore.
He said the Taiwanese military was kitted out with “super high-tech” U.S. cyber technology which creates a “massive attack surface for an adversary.”
Moore said the Russian invasion of Ukraine had proved that no matter how great a country’s cyber warfare was, it could be let down by poor strategy.
Moore said Russian hackers had managed to put the ViaSat network out of action, crippling Ukraine’s military communications for a while.
‘Capacity for Technical Brilliance’
“Clearly, there is capacity for technical brilliance,” Moore said of the Russians. “Where it falls apart is on the operational side. … The Russians always fail operationally almost with 100 percent consistency in almost every single thing that they do.”
He said the Ukrainians had succeeded in creating a “compelling narrative” and he said the Russians, who “used to be powerful as in creating a tapestry of connected narratives” had failed in persuading the global community, or indeed many Russians, of the validity of their cause.