In Cyberwar, Attribution Can Be Impossible — and That’s OK


Graphic suggesting a major cyberattack

For most of human history, battle lines have been clearly demarcated. Physical borders, trenches, and satellite imagery have shown us launch sites, front lines, and enemy targets. Technology has allowed opponents to trace every inch of a weapon’s path. Historically, we have been able to determine the source of a strike and know who we’re up against with clarity.

But the rules of cyberspace are different.

Acts of cyberwar continue to proliferate — defined by espionage, proxy battles, disinformation campaigns, and guerrilla tactics. Every day, it becomes more challenging to establish the source of an attack — and therefore, to establish an effective, proportional response.

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