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Why reversible cyberattacks could become standard in digital warfare

“The damage that most military weapons do is irreversible. When a gun fires and a bullet strikes a target, it’s impossible to bring a life back from the dead. But experts say that cyber weapons, which are reversible, can be even more effective precisely because their consequences can be mitigated. Navy and Air Force researchers predict that the use of reversible cyber weapons might become so standard that anything short might be considered a war crime. ‘Coercion is about sticks and carrots,’ said Max Smeets, a cybersecurity postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. Although cyber operations are usually thought of to punish or raise costs on an adversary, it is possible that some enemies can react as a reward if they are reversible, Smeets said. The concept of reversible cyberattacks is similar to ransomware, when a criminal can hold data hostage for money. An example of a reversible offensive cyberattack would be encrypting an enemy’s data to force a change in behavior and then decrypting that information once there has been an agreement.”

Source: Why reversible cyberattacks could become standard in digital warfare

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