Sanctions and the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the USA in response to alleged hacking intended to influence the U.S. presidential election are rare physical responses to growing cyberwars between nations. President Obama’s announcement of sanctions Thursday and Russia’s subsequent decision not to expel U.S. diplomats Friday may signal a larger engagement over events in cyberspace, one experts have long said was coming but that may seem like a strange new world to the public. Previous responses to cyberthreats were directed toward nation-states with no full nuclear deterrent capability, said Ian Gray, a cyberintelligence analyst with the Flashpoint company. Those include Iran and North Korea, cases that never escalated to full-blown sanctions. “The possible implications of two fully nuclear-armed powers escalates the potential for future conflict, making the implications unique,” Gray said.
In many ways, the series of hacking incidents and leaks of Democratic Party documents shows that the old ways of looking at global conflict, the distinctions between “cold wars” and “hot wars,” may no longer work.
… One new signpost on that road came Thursday when Obama amended a 2015 executive order for combating cyberattacks against critical infrastructure and commercial espionage. Before that, the election systems weren’t considered critical infrastructure. Obama added language that allows for sanctions for interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.
This is crucial, said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a non-partisan election security and watchdog organization. “Measures that impose sanctions on those who conduct cyberattacks and other forms of tampering against our elections are an important statement that we value our democratic processes,” she said.
Full Article: Sanctions mark rare window into cyberwar.