Law and Politics

Start Free Trial

Share your thoughts on using cyberwarfare in the future and the consequences of using such weapons in cyberspace.

Cyberwarfare is likely to be used in the future as technology becomes increasingly integrated into everyday life. Many factors in the modern world make traditional warfare on a global scale unlikely, from the existence of nuclear weapons to the reliance most countries now have on a global trade network. Additionally, cyberwarfare is already being used today but has not necessarily come to the public's attention. Like any weapon, the consequences will depend on how it is used.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Cyberwarfare is something that is already happening, just not always openly. While we do live in the Information Age today, there are still many people alive who grew up in eras before computers were mainstream. It can be difficult to convince people who adapted to modern technology rather than growing up side-by-side with it just how impactful cyberwarfare can be.

In a way, cyberwarfare is the next step in how different countries and civilizations will come into conflict. The advent of nuclear weapons essentially stops any traditional conflict on the scale of World War II from ever happening again. To quote Albert Einstein, "I know not with what weapons WWIII will be fought, but WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones."

Today, we see cyberwarfare being used on massive scales. Some countries use cyberwarfare against each other, such as Russia's interference in the 2016 US election. Other nations use it to secure their own internal power, such as China's Great Firewall censoring what content can be seen on the Internet within China.

These attacks are not limited to governments, either. Independent hacker organizations target corporations to steal data and sell it on the black market, such as the Equifax data breach that became public in 2017. Other tactics include using viruses like ransomware to target hospitals, shutting down key systems and putting lives at stake. While there are ways to get around these types of viruses, those methods take time. And time can be a critical factor when we are talking about things like people on life support.

Cyberwarfare can be a powerful weapon, and the extent of the damage depends on how it is used. The tricky thing is that most other weapons can be measured in terms of direct destructive force: how much penetration force a bullet has, the TNT equivalent of an explosive yield, and so forth. But cyberwarfare is not directly killing people. It may lead to deaths, like ransomware shutting down hospital equipment, but that is not an easy thing to measure. Factors such as IT security, the goal of the hacker, and the response of the victim all come into play.

Cybersecurity keeping up with cyberwarfare is certainly going to be an ongoing battle as technology becomes more advanced and is continually integrated into societies worldwide. Technology can be a great thing, but it is a tool, and tools can become weapons depending on who holds them. You can use a hammer to build a house or break someone's hand. You can use cyberwarfare to build a firewall or steal data and ruin people financially. This is a complicated, ongoing topic with no simple or easy answer, and it is something humanity as a whole will have to deal with going forward.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team