One can only hope our nation’s alarm clocks wake up and stir our national leaders’ imaginations before a cyber incident of the magnitude of 9/11 results in the need for a “Cyber Strikes Commission Report.”
Enemy infrastructure is and always has been an important military target. The difference is that with increasingly automated and connected infrastructure, the ability for an enemy to target these systems digitally has increased, putting these systems at greater risk.
I believe that no other nation can match the capabilities of the United States military, but at the same time, matching the level of resources and investment in cyber being made by nation states such as China could prove impossible.
When the Chinese government states that it is not behind most of these attacks – it is possibly telling the truth. That the Chinese government has offensive cyber capabilities are not disputed. What is not a given is that all of this activity has been officially prompted or sanctioned.
It remains to be seen how the big powers will come to agree on the precise rules to govern cyber operations – currently the international legal status is uncertain, but the little players had better concentrate on improving old and developing new defensive measures.
Cyberwar, at least the type where infrastructure or actual lives are targeted and destroyed, will not just happen for the fun of it. There are consequences to any such activity, as recent policy activity and policy makers make clear.