Know the Issue

Increasingly in recent years, many governments have started seeing our online interconnectivity as a means for attack. Private companies, NGOs, governments, and entire nations have been targeted by state sponsored and conducted cyberattacks meant to further the attackers’ political agenda. Nations have long debated the exact definition of “cyberwar” and even “cyberattack,” and in the shadow of these grey areas in international law the frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks have increased with little or no repercussions for the attackers. 

These attacks don’t just disrupt and destabilize governments, they put citizens directly at risk for financial and physical harm. Cyberattack targets have included: 

GOVERNMENT AGENCIES: including municipalities, embassies, defense and security departments, and their employees 

INFRASTRUCTURE: including power grids and power plants, dams, telecommunication and network access 

PRIVATE SECTOR: seeking financial assets, consumer data, and intellectual property

HEALTH CARE: including hospitals, healthcare systems, and private medical research centers 

ELECTION INTEGRITY: including disinformation campaigns 

CIVIL SOCIETY: including NGOs, universities, think tanks, and non-profits

We must have international agreements that include clearly defined repercussions for state sponsored attacks that aim to destabilize nations and inflict harm on citizens, even when there is no armed conflict taking place. Without this, nations will continue to act in the shadows, dangerously interfering in the digital world with impunity.   

The Impact of Cyberattacks

This video provides an overview of WannaCry and NotPetya, some of the worst cyberattacks to date. They had a global reach that ultimately endangered the lives of some of their victims. Without action from our world leaders to stop cyberwarfare, we risk similar or worse attacks, and an online experience shaped by fear and a lack of trust in the internet.