Aside from the Snowdens and Assanges of the world, hacking can be used for darker purposes. Cyberwar is defined by various characteristics, including surveillance, subversion, impersonation and sock puppets (source).
Let’s imagine the notion of cyberwar outside of the internet space. I’ll give you a good guy and a bad guy, Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. We’ll need a bunch of nodes as well, let’s call them wizards. They are fighting the worst Wizarding War of their time.
Lord Voldemort first used his prowess in legilimency in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to effectively hack into Harry’s mind. Legilimency is defined as illegitimately breaking into another person’s mind. Voldemort attempted, and succeeded on occasions, in reading and manipulating Harry’s mind. Occlumency is its counter curse; it is the defence of the mind against a legilimens or a virus. Snape teaches Harry the art of occlumency, and thus we have a battle occurring between the hacker (Voldemort) and the defender (Harry).
If we picture the human brain, a complex web of connections between specialised cells, as an operating system, a parallel between hacking and legilimency appears. We can let the internet equal the wizarding world, whereby each individual wizard is a node. Voldemort’s underlying motive, at least initially, is that of subversion, the practice of undermining an authority. The Dark Lord attempts to get into Harry’s head in order to put Albus Dumbledore, the leader of the Order of the Phoenix (a secret society against the plight against Voldemort) under surveillance, among other reasons.
A sock puppet is a fabricated internet persona, generally used by the government or military in order to sway the opinions or actions of the general public. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort creates a sock puppet, a faux version of Harry’s Godfather, Sirius Black, to lure Harry, and by effect the members of the Order of the Phoenix, into the Department of Mysteries. He uses legilimency to push a false impersonation of Sirius’s torture into Harry’s mind, not unlike a computer virus. This is yet another example of subversion; Voldemort undermines the Ministry of Magic by effectively marking the beginning of the second Wizarding War on its premises. This ultimately resulted in Black’s murder.
Through the application of cyberwar to the Harry Potter universe, it can be concluded that cyberwarfare is a strong threat to society and it is used by both the good side and the dark side. A small act of hacking, or breaking into one’s mind, has incredible consequences in the physical world, for example Sirius Black’s death and the beginning of a violent war that would last for years. As technology continues to advance and more and more people connect online, the potential of cyberwar to destroy will only increase (ibid).