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With cyberattacks growing more frequent and disruptive, a unified approach is essential

Cyberwarfare will require new defensive measures by government and corporations. (Shutterstock)Yasser Morgan, University of Regina

Cyberwarfare consists of co-ordinated attacks of mass disruption (AMD). In the June summit between U.S. and Russian presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, cyberwarfare was a topic of discussion. While the Biden-Putin summit appears to be “quite constructive,” cyberwarfare remains perplexing to politicians.

Attacks of mass disruption are similar to the latest ransomware attacks on SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline — imagine several co-ordinated similar attacks. For the time being, organizations should prepare for increasing disruptions and data losses caused by ransomware.

Read more: The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and the SolarWinds hack were all but inevitable – why national cyber defense is a 'wicked' problem

Attacks of mass disruption may not cause massive casualties, but nations could lose their ability to function and respond to adversaries, economies can be crippled and governments may be undermined. The 2015 cyberattack on Ukraine presented a scenario of grounding a nation using a well co-ordinated cyberattack.

The lessons are clear — the impact of cyberattacks is too serious to ignore and pre-planned contingencies may be the only thing that works to address them.

Cyberattack losses

In 2020, IBM estimated US$1.5 billion losses in known observed cyberattacks.