“Cyberwar” redirects here. For other uses, see Cyberwar (disambiguation). Not to be confused with Electronic warfare. See also: Information warfare Part of a series on Information security Information Security Incidents by Category, Fiscal Year 2014.svg Related security categories

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Cyberwarfare is the use of digital attacks to attack a nation, causing comparable harm to actual warfare and/or disrupting the vital computer systems.[1] There is significant debate among experts regarding the definition of cyberwarfare, and even if such a thing exists.[2] One view is that the term “cyberwarfare” is a misnomer, since no offensive cyber actions to date could be described as “war”. An alternative view is that “cyberwarfare” is a suitable label for cyber attacks which cause physical damage to people and objects in the real world.[3]

While there is debate over how to define and use “cyberwarfare” as a term, many countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, Israel, Iran, and North Korea[4][5][6][7] have active cyber capabilities for offensive and defensive operations. As states explore the use of cyber operations and combine capabilities the likelihood of physical confrontation and violence playing out as a result of, or part of, a cyber operation is increased. However, meeting the scale and protracted nature of war is unlikely, thus ambiguity remains.[8]

The first instance of kinetic military action used in response to a cyber-attack resulting in the loss of human life was observed on 5 May 2019, when the Israel Defense Forces targeted and destroyed a building associated with an on-going cyber-attack.[9][10]