The United States has formally accused the Russian government of masterminding a slew of cyberattacks on its political organizations and citizens with the objective of interfering with the election process in the United States.
Close on the heels of the accusations from the Obama administration, questions as to whether the U.S. government would retaliate or seek sanctions on Russia are being raised.
On Oct. 7, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security have released a joint statement that said "only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities."
For the unfamiliar, the Russian government has been accused of hacking and sharing private emails from prominent figures, the Democratic National Committee, as well as several other institutions. The leaked emails were posted on WikiLeaks, as well as Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks.
The United States has asserted that based on the scope of the cyberattack, it seems that Russia was behind the hacking. While it did not name Russian President Vladimir Putin, the statement seemed to hint at his involvement.
While an air of uncertainty looming over how the United States will respond to these cyberattacks, several cybersecurity experts think that a cyberwar is not a good idea, contrary to Donald Trump's stance of the government going "on the offensive."
Why Engaging In Cyberwar Is Not A Good Idea
As highlighted by Jason Glassberg, co-founder of cybersecurity firm Casaba Security, when a cyberwar is waged, there is only destruction on all ends and no winner.
However, there are those who are in favor of an offensive stance to potentially deter hackers.
"You use yours, we use ours, nobody wins, world destroyed. I don't think that will work. The hacking game is ever changing and ever morphing, and ranges from the very sophisticated, to the downright lame," said Glassberg.
Cyberwarfare is not under the jurisdiction of any rules, which means that if the United States were to retaliate, it would essentially be making things up and playing it by ear.
This situation is a precarious one and could be taken advantage of by other governments that are not directly involved and see it as an open opportunity to strike. These governments may think they are justified in targeting critical infrastructure if they think of themselves as involved in a cyberwar.
Laying Out All The Cards
In the event the United States engages in a cyberwar, it would unwittingly offer the world an insight into its cyberwarfare capabilities. Its adversaries and allies alike would know how much harm the country can inflict. Laying out all the cards for all to see is not a good idea.
Harm To Civilians
If a cyberwar were to ensue, then civilians would be caught in the middle and would be harmed. This thought is echoed by Casaba Security's Samuel Bucholtz, who notes that cyberwarfare is a "two-edged sword." In his opinion, it is preferable to use it for collecting intelligence rather than real warfare.
Moreover, cyber battles are not like a traditional war as they can occur simultaneously and the fronts are constantly changing. While one can lose some battles in traditional warfare and still emerge victorious, it is not so in the context of cyberwars.