CYBER operations units will soon sit alongside the army, navy and air force as a major wing of Australia's defence forces, an online security expert says.
And remote controlled robots - similar to drones being used by the US in the air now - will be an increasing part of ground combat, says Queensland University of Technology’s Bill Caelli.
In the US, authorities have already agreed to sponsor courses for cyber operation experts trained in limiting an enemy’s ability to attack and Prof Caelli says this will follow here.
"What we're seeing happen is a global recognition that cyber operations are real," Prof Caelli, the founder of the university’s security research centre, told news.com.au.
"By 2025 cyber operations units will become a major part of any defence activity, alongside the military, air force and navy."
Prof Caelli said it was "inevitable" computer systems and information infrastructure would become the focus of future attacks as major world economies became more dependent on them.
"There will be a need to counter-attack the information infrastructure of those who are attacking us," he said.
In the field, robots will be used tactically to destroy or seize the enemy’s robotic weaponry.
"The simple idea is to limit damage to humans," Prof Caelli said, "But just like in the robot film I, Robot, just how safe and predictable is all this?
"The real risk is when the combatants take over control of each other's robotic systems."
At home, Prof Caelli said made no sense in an age where cyber warfare was becoming more sophisticated, the Federal Government had been so slow to regulate IT systems.
As the Government prepares harsher laws to help track user activity on the web, Prof Caelli told news.com.au they were picking on the wrong targets. Read more
He says this approach is one of the least effective ways to ensure a secure future, and that viruses such as the DNS malware which had the potential to take four million people offline on Monday were just the tip of the iceberg.
"Imagine the internet's domain name services were suddenly attacked and turned off," he said.
"All government services would be turned off. At the same time major enterprises and critical infrastructure could be attacked."
Prof Caelli said it was essential to regulate the IT industry – in a similar way to the automobile and pharmaceutical industries - to ensure users are being provided with safe, secure products and services.
He said smartphones and tablets were particularly at risk, not just from viruses but from the prying eyes of governments and "forces that are hostile to our interests”.