Pentagon Ponders Nuclear Response to Cyberattacks

Our entire society is almost completely dependent on electronics and cyberinfrastructure. As such, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of cyberattacks executed against companies, governments, and other entities. The Pentagon is now mulling a rather harsh response if such attacks were to occur in the future. More specifically, it’s considering retaliating with nuclear weapons. This is a very worrisome and disturbing development, but it has thankfully not been approved just yet.

The Pentagon’s Plan is Disturbing

No one will deny that the number of cyberattacks on a global scale continues to grow every single year. Criminals are no longer just targeting online shopping portals and stealing credit card information. Instead, they are gutsy enough to go after governments, financial institutions, service providers, or anything else that plays a big role in any nation’s economy. In some cases, they will even shut down an entire power grid if they have the right tools at their disposal.

America has seen its fair share of cyberattacks in recent years. Major banks have been crippled, the East Coast saw a power blackout not long ago, and the country’s internet infrastructure has come under significant pressure as well. All of these developments warrant a more than aggressive approach to future cyberattacks, but it is unclear how things will unfold as time progresses. If it were up to the Pentagon, however, brute force may be the only course of action that matters.

The Pentagon has proposed retaliating with nuclear weapons to cyberattacks against US infrastructure. A submarine off the coast of North Korea could launch a missile at the country if needed, despite the fact that there is very little evidence to suggest that North Korea is responsible for US-oriented cyberattacks. Nevertheless, a recently unveiled draft strategy shows the Trump administration is actively looking for nuclear weapon use cases, and retaliating against countries performing cyberattacks would seemingly fit the bill. All of this goes to show that the geopolitical issues between the US and North Korea are getting out of hand very quickly. World War III would appear to be a lot closer if any of this actually transpired.

For the time being, it remains unclear if this policy will ever be more than just a contingency plan. There are many different ways to address cyberattacks in the future, yet using nuclear weapons is never the answer. When someone essentially cripples a few computer networks, there is no reason to make them “eat a rocket or two.” It is a very problematic train of thought on the part of the Pentagon, and one which no one should even remotely agree with.

For now, we will just have to wait and see how things unfold. Retaliating with nuclear weapons is never a valid or acceptable option. While cyberattacks are indeed a grave problem, there are other ways of dealing with such events. State-sponsored hacking is not something with which only countries such as North Korea tend to get involved these days. If the Pentagon decides to go ahead with this plan, it will be setting a very negative example for the rest of the world.