The United States government, states, municipalities, and private companies all have been trying to defend themselves from cyber warfare from foreign adversarial governments, including Russia, China, and North Korea, for years—actually, for decades. Even when I started practicing full time in this area of law in the early 2000s, we were talking about not traveling to those countries with work laptops for fear that data on the laptop would be stolen or misappropriated.
Every time a foreign adversarial government attacks a U.S. government agency or business with a cyberattack, it should be viewed like what it is: a bomb. Although it does not blow up bricks and mortar, it blows up the ability for the target to do business and forces it to rebuild its network and system in order to function. Every time a ransomware or malware code, or other bug, virus, or malicious tool is downloaded into a system, it should be viewed as what it is as well: an act of war by an adversary.
Last week, President Biden called out Russia for its part in wreaking havoc on tens of thousands of businesses when it launched the SolarWinds attack, and put sanctions in place. This will not be the last word in cyber warfare.
Russia and other foreign adversaries have sophisticated capabilities in cyber warfare. We don’t want to talk about it, but cyber warfare could cripple the economy, critical infrastructure, monetary transactions, health care, food supply, access to accurate information, communication, and our livelihoods. Everything is connected to the internet. Everything. And everything is vulnerable to cyber warfare.
Take time to determine what you would need in the face of cyber warfare. I liken it to what you would need if a very powerful hurricane came through, taking out the power, the water, the banking system, the grid, the ability to use a credit card (because there is no power), to get food and sustenance, gas or electricity for your car, or to get medical supplies or treatment. Some thoughts about what to stock up on include cash, a generator or other power supply, potable water, non-perishable food, medical supplies, an alternate form of communication and supply of energy, an escape route, and an escape plan. Whether it is cyber warfare, a hurricane, or worse, preparing for an emergency will help you weather it, and hopefully, the preparation will never be needed.