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Context

I cannot remember the source, but it was most likely within the comments box for a clip about cyberattacks happening after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was something along the lines:

  • comment: party X moved its hackers closer to the target Y
  • reply: cyber attacks do not work as the normal attacks do, it does not matter how far the attacker is from its target

This discussion clearly lacks accuracy, so I will try to clarify as much as I can:

  • by hackers, I am interested actually in machines involved in the attack (e.g. infected machines part of DDos)
  • by closer I understand geographical distance, although I think the network round-trip is what actually matters here

Question

This made me wonder if the reply is entirely accurate. I think that for most types of attacks, the geographical distance is not that important, but I am wondering if there is any type of attack where being closer makes a difference.

I know that for some specific operations distance between the systems is of great importance, that's why I imagine that for some types of attacks this might matter.

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  • 2
    Are attacks against wireless devices not classified as cyber attacks?
    – user
    May 11 at 16:19
  • @user Yes, this type of attack is a good match. However, I am not sure about its usage in a cyber warfare.
    – Alexei
    May 11 at 17:24
  • 1
    There are a whole class of cyber attacks that require physical access to the device being attacked - for example, the infamous evil maid attack.
    – mti2935
    May 11 at 17:30
  • timing attacks work better the fewer hops they make.
    – dandavis
    May 11 at 22:16

1 Answer 1

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You are narrowing your scope down to attacks over the Internet, but the cyberspace is not that limited. Take a look at the definitions from, e.g., NIST SP 800-39:

Cyber Attack

An attack, via cyberspace, targeting an enterprise’s use of cyberspace for the purpose of disrupting, disabling, destroying, or maliciously controlling a computing environment/infrastructure; or destroying the integrity of the data or stealing controlled information.

Cyberspace

A global domain within the information environment consisting of the interdependent network of information systems infrastructures including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers.

In this wider scope, geographical distance does have a meaning.

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