If the U.S. were to ramp up its counterattacks on countries it thinks are sponsoring hackers that breach American accounts, don’t expect a sci-fi digital armageddon…. Think of it more as a creeping worry that simple things we rely on can’t be trusted — the machines that count our votes, the total on our bank balance, our personal digital files.
In a hot cyber war, the first line of attack would not be like on Star Trek, with spectacular bursts of sparks flying out of computers. Instead it would be a stealth attack on the enemy’s military command and control infrastructure, to keep it from being able to strike, said Matt Devost, managing director of Accenture Security and a special government advisor to the U.S. Department of Defense.
A higher level of escalation involves damaging critical infrastructure. This has already happened.
Russian launched a cyber attack against the Ukrainian power grid in 2015, according to U.S. officials. The attacks caused power outages in 103 cities and towns in the nation. Russia had been involved in military clashes with Ukraine over the Crimea.
A computer virus believed to be the work of Israel and the United States disabled a critical part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program in 2010.
Multiple government websites in Estonia, one of the most wired nations on earth, were crashed in 2007. The country’s foreign minister accuses Russia of being behind the attacks in retaliation over Estonia’s move away from the Russian sphere of influence.