If you’re attacked with a stick and all you have to respond with is a gun, what would you do? Reading this article makes me think that physical, ‘kinetic’ war could break out if there’s a mismatch of offensive and defensive cyber capabilities between two nation states…:
[…] While India’s handling of incoming cyber attacks has been lethargic, in the short term it could be considered a rational response to threat management. Restraint is a feasible policy due to the uncertainty connected to cyber attacks. Attribution remains a problem in the cyber domain, making escalation more risky. While attacks have been traced to hackers operating in China, the Chinese government has repeatedly denied responsibility for the actions. Unlike with the use of conventional weapons that are the domain of the country’s military, a government can deny its connections to hackers. In this context, the targeted country must proceed with caution.
There is also the question of how to respond to a cyber attack when a country lacks credible offensive cyber capability that it could use as a deterrent. Should it turn to conventional weapons? Such a move comes with high costs. The enemy might perceive a conventional response as too escalatory in proportion to a cyber attack and escalate the conflict even more, edging dangerously close to an all out war. After all, China’s cyber attacks have not created any damage to India’s infrastructure or resulted in casualties to justify a more provocative conventional response.