Clearly, the private sector has a vested interest in a stable, secure cyber space and needs to advocate for international norms that will rein in cyber conflict and attacks on critical infrastructure and other companies, Papadopolous says.
Playing defense at home until the cyber war endsIn the meantime, government policymakers and corporate CEOs alike need to think about and plan for escalating cyber conflicts and for disruptive and destructive attacks, not just espionage or intellectual property theft -- the major focus undertaken against advanced persistent threats and hack in recent years. After all, more countries and groups will gain the ability to launch sophisticated attacks, Papadopoulos says.
Policies such as the 2012 Securities and Exchange Commission's Guidance on Cyber Disclosure now require many Fortune 500 companies to report any type of meaningful cyber threats in their organizations, Martinez says. This is leading to an "age of transparency -- whether we like it or not -- which is a good thing because we now share more information about attacks, which allows us to more easily target bad actors," he says.
Still, Papadopolous says the cyber attacks on the private sector raise difficult questions: "What kinds of companies are fair targets? What kinds of attacks are acceptable?" Also, are companies liable when their services are disrupted by foreign attack? And who pays for clean-up, repairs, and compensation to affected customers?
Another key question: What is the government's role in protecting critical companies? In October 2012, Secretary of Defense Panetta said it was not the DoD's mission to provide for the day-to-day security of private and commercial networks, although he acknowledged the Pentagon had a role in the event of a "crippling cyber attack," Papadopoulos says.
Recently, there were reports of banks seeking help from the National Security Agency, Papadopoulos says. "How will the government's role change if we see more and more attacks against companies and they are more and more disruptive or destructive?" he says. That's a question many more people may ask if the world cyber war indeed escalates.
One thing is clear: The era of cyber warfare is here, and it's happening on the homefront.