Cyber Warfare on the Deep Web and Dark Web

cyber warfare

Cyber Warfare is no longer limited to actual battlefields; it now exists in the digital sphere of deep web and dark web. Once confined to the language of science fiction, cyber warfare is becoming an essential part of national security plans all over the world.

Do you Know About Cyber Warfare?

The use of digital attacks by states, groups, or people to harm, interfere with, or spy on an adversary’s digital infrastructure is known as cyber warfare. The goal of these cyber operations is to steal, change, or destroy data that is held in the deep web and is sold at the dark web marketplaces. This data is vital to public safety, economic stability, and national security. They can target a variety of sectors, including government networks, critical infrastructure, and business systems.

What Motivates Nations and Organizations to Involve in Cyber Warfare?

The many intricate motivations behind cyber warfare are indicative of the complicated relationships between strategic goals and global power dynamics.

Safety and Supremacy

The quest for strategic advantage lies at the core of many cyber warfare activities. By weakening possible enemies, nations undertake cyber operations on the deep web to strengthen their national security. To get the upper hand in a geopolitical war, this can entail stealing important defense information, interfering with military communications, or even taking down vital infrastructure. With cyber warfare, nations can subtly establish their dominance without risking the political and international repercussions that come with using conventional force.

Power and Influence

Cyber warfare is also a technique for control and manipulation of politics. This covers initiatives to change public opinion, affect election results, and topple governments. State-sponsored hackers can release classified information, disseminate false information, and instigate political unrest on the dark web. Hackers break into digital systems like voting equipment or political party networks. These cyber strategies have been seen being utilized to sabotage political integrity and tamper with democratic processes in a number of international elections.

Subversion and Spying

Cyber warfare as a means of economic spying is another important driver of participants on the digital battlefield. Cybercriminals can get trade secrets, intellectual property, and crucial financial information on the dark web marketplaces. It can give their home country’s sectors a competitive edge by breaking into the networks of governments and corporations. In addition, undermined an adversary country’s vital economic domains. Such as banking, energy, or telecommunications, has the potential to severely impair its economy. Thus elevating the assaulting nation’s comparative economic position.

Social Engineering and Propagandizing

Non-state entities that participate in cyber warfare, such as hacktivists and terrorist organizations, frequently do so for ideological reasons. These actors recruit recruits, organize support, and spread their ideologies via the use of cyber tools. For political, religious, or social purposes, social engineering and cyber propaganda campaigns can be used to disseminate ideas, false information, or societal unrest.

Retaliation and Revenge

The desire for vengeance or retribution against perceived injustices or prior attacks can also serve as a driving force for cyber warfare. States may engage in a cycle of digital tit-for-tat by deploying cyber operations on the deep web in retaliation against other nations who have launched their own cyberattacks.

5 Tools Used in Cyber Warfare on the Deep Web

Cyberwarfare employs a range of instruments and strategies, such as but not restricted to:

  1. Malicious Software: Malicious software that aims to interfere with, harm, or access computer systems without authorization.
  2. Malware by Ransom: A kind of virus that encrypts the files of its victims and requests money in order to unlock them.
  3. Malware: Software that makes it possible to secretly collect data about an individual or group.
  4. DDoS: Attacks that cause a denial of service (DoS) or distributed denial of service (DDoS). These attacks try to stop a host’s internet services momentarily or permanently in order to prevent a computer or network resource from being used by its intended users.
  5. Phishing: A technique that uses shady websites and emails to try to obtain personal information.

Cyber Warfare and Cyber War in the Digital Era

The term “cyber warfare” describes the plans and techniques used to carry out hostile acts using cyber technology against a nation, group, or individual. The primary feature of cyberwarfare is its continuous nature, which is integrated into larger national security plans. It is also utilized during peacetime for intelligence gathering, monitoring, and conflict preparation.

The word “cyber war” refers to a subset of cyberwarfare, which is defined as real, stated, or covert acts of warlike behavior carried out via cyberspace. In order to accomplish particular military goals, this kind of fighting entails the extensive and concentrated use of cyberspace to directly harm an adversary’s infrastructure or capabilities. Cyberwarfare has escalated to a level known as cyberwar war, which involves direct, targeted attacks that may be a component of a wider military plan.

Differences and Similarities Between Cyber Warfare and Cyber War

Scope and Intensity
Cyber WarfareCyber War
Cyberwarfare is more inclusive and encompasses a range of operations carried out in the deep web over a protracted period, frequently in support of continuous national defense plans.When a declared or intense conflict is underway, the term “cyber war” refers especially to intense cyber operations carried out in addition to or instead of regular military engagements.
Cyber WarfareCyber War
Cyberwarfare can be used to gather intelligence, prepare the cyber battlefield for possible future wars, or gradually weaken an adversary.The goal of cyber war is to severely damage an enemy’s operational capacities and infrastructure, which will directly affect their capacity to wage war or repel attacks.
Visibility and Public Awareness
Cyber WarfareCyber War
Cyberwarfare operations are usually conducted in secret on the deep web, with little knowledge of their existence by the public or even other countries.Cyberwar tends to be known and publicized, particularly when it does a great deal of harm or occurs in tandem with actual military actions.

5 Famous Historical Cyber Warfare Incidents and Scandals

A number of well-publicized cyberattacks over the past few decades have not only interfered with national operations. But also put international law’s flexibility and durability to the test.

1.      2007: Estonia

Estonia was the target of a significant cyberattack in April 2007. The attack destroyed the digital infrastructure of a nation that is largely dependent on internet services by focusing on websites for the government, news media, and banks. This incident made clear how susceptible national infrastructures are to hacking and made NATO step up its cybersecurity efforts.

2.      2010: Stuxnet

The highly skilled computer worm known as the Stuxnet virus was identified in 2010 and is arguably the most well-known example of cyber warfare. It physically damaged the uranium enrichment centrifuges by aiming its attacks at the software used in Iranian nuclear plants. Many people consider the Stuxnet strike to be a turning point in the history of cyber warfare. Because it showed how cyberattacks on the deep web may accomplish strategic goals that had previously needed actual military action. Discussions on whether international humanitarian law applies to cyber operations, particularly with regard to the principles of distinction and proportionality, were sparked by this episode.

3.      2016: Sony Pictures Hack

North Korea was purportedly behind the assault on Sony Pictures Entertainment. The US claimed was retaliation for the movie “The Interview” being released, which made fun of the leader of North Korea. In addition to stealing confidential data, such as employee personal information and unreleased movies. The hackers also erased data from servers, seriously harming the company’s finances and reputation.

4.      2015: Ukraine Power Grid Attack

A well-planned cyberattack on the Ukrainian power infrastructure in December 2015 resulted in winter power shortages for thousands of people. This attack was noteworthy since it was among the first effective cyber operations of the deep web to be known to have permanently disrupted a vital public service.

5.      2017: WannaCry Ransomware Attack

More than 200,000 machines in 150 countries were impacted by the May 2017 WannaCry ransomware assault. It caused disruptions to logistics, telecommunications, and healthcare systems. It took the use of holes in previous Windows operating systems, especially those that were utilized in vital industries. The incident, which was attributed to hackers with ties to North Korea, sparked debates about the need for international conventions and standards to regulate state and non-state cyber activity, as well as calls for increased international cooperation in cybersecurity.

Cyber Warfare in International Law

The reason why cyber warfare remains a hazy area in international law, despite its increasing prominence, is that conventional legal frameworks were not intended to deal with the cyber environment.

3 Important legislative frameworks that control cyber warfare

  1. United Nations Charter: A fundamental component of international law, the UN Charter is especially pertinent to cyber warfare since it upholds the prohibition on the use of force and regulates state sovereignty. States are forbidden by Article 2(4) of the Charter from employing force to undermine a state’s political independence or territorial integrity or to use force in any other way that is contrary to UN goals. When it comes to cyber operations, this means that any action that seriously interferes with the vital activities of another nation may be considered a violation of the principle.
  2. IHL stands for international humanitarian law: IHL, sometimes referred to as the law of armed conflict, governs both the conduct of hostilities and the defense of civilians. Cyber operations during armed conflicts are guided by the principles of necessity, proportionality, and distinction. IHL may be broken by cyber operations carried out during a conflict. It attack civilian infrastructure without providing a clear military benefit.
  3. The Tallinn Handbook: The Tallinn Manual is an important academic work on international law relevant to cyber warfare, even though it is not legally enforceable. The Manual, which was created by legal experts and practitioners, explores how international law relates to cyber warfare and conflicts. It provides interpretations and guidelines on issues such as state accountability, sovereignty, and the application of the law of the sea and the air to cyberspace.

Challenges in Enforcing International Law in Cyberspace

  1. Attribution is one of the main obstacles to using international law in cyber warfare. Legal actions are complicated when identifying the person responsible for a cyberattack. Since it is frequently a technically challenging and politically delicate process.
  2. As technology advances more quickly than international lawmaking can keep up, loopholes in legislation may arise that must be constantly filled.
  3. There is uneven enforcement and implementation of the law. Because various nations have differing cyberspace capabilities and interpret international laws differently when it comes to cyber activities.


Q: What is the most common cyber warfare?

Ans: Malware is the most common type of cyber warfare as it encompasses many subcategories. Such as ransomware, trojans, spyware, viruses, worms, keyloggers, bots, crypto-jacking, and any other kind of malware attack that maliciously influences software.

Q: Is cyber warfare a real threat?

Ans: Yes, cyber warfare is a real threat. It targets computer systems and attacks on the domestic security, principal infrastructure, economies, government organizations, civilian infrastructure, and global stability of a region.

Q: Which country has the most advanced cyber warfare?

Ans: According to the index of National Cyber Power, these are the most powerful and advanced cyber warfare countries;

  1. United States of America
  2. China
  3. Russia
  4. United Kingdom (UK)
  5. Australia
  6. The Netherlands
  7. North Korea

Final Thoughts

Technology and conflict dynamics are evolving together. Cyberwarfare has become a crucial area of focus for modern security, requiring governments, businesses, and people to navigate a world where cyber threats are everywhere on the dark web and deep web. Warfare is intricately linked to the geopolitical, economic, and social fabric of our global civilization. In addition to being primarily focused on the technical aspects of cyberattacks and defenses.