The state of cyberwarfare: 2 things you need to know

If you want to understand why you should be worried about the proliferation of cyberweapons and the lack of arms control treaties governing them, then read on.
Written by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief

Cybersecurity headlines in recent years have been dominated by companies losing money by being hacked and leaking the data of millions of customers.

But today, cybersecurity is moving beyond the financial impact to concerns over public safety, national security, and even cyberwarfare.

To understand the state of cyberwar and its potential impact, we should all keep in mind two things:

1. The proliferation of cyberweapons is already happening

Countries are already stockpiling cyberweapons that they can use against each other. These weapons could cause real world damage to public infrastructure, public utilities, and other facilities that could endanger people's lives and crash economies.

The United States, China, and Russia are the most well-known stockpilers of cyberweapons, but there are plenty of others engaged in the cyberweapons arms race. We even saw during the 2018 US midterms that there were reports America was preparing a cyberweapons attack on Russia if it was discovered that the Russians hacked the US election.

2. Arms control of cyberweapons hasn't caught up

While the world has a decades-long history of treaties governing the use of weapons of mass destruction such as ballistic missiles, biochemical weapons, and nuclear ams, very little has been done yet to regulate cyberweapons.

The challenge is that most lawmakers and government officials have minimal understanding of how these weapons work, how they differ from traditional weapons, and the true dangers they can pose.

The other challenge is that it is far faster and cheaper to create and stockpile cyberweapons than traditional weapons. We should take a lesson from history and remember that both of the world wars were preceded by years of unchecked weapons buildup.

Special report

For more on this important topic, don't miss our special report "Cyberwar and the Future of Cybersecurity." You can read all of the articles on ZDNet or you can download them all in one PDF on TechRepublic.

Cyberwarfare simulation

Cybersecurity experts participate in a NATO simulation on the outbreak of cyberwar.

Image: NATO

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