"The first casualty when war comes is truth." Does that mean we are already at war?
The Cyberwar seems to have officially started with the death of Ryan Halligan in 2003. Ryan was a suicide attributed to cyberbullying. Maybe not the first such event, but the first widely documented. Or maybe it was the 1970 Union Dime Bank embezzlement case. But from those modest beginnings the frequency, scope, depth and reach of the attacks has steadily accelerated. Cyber attacks, once only totally professional or grossly amateurish are now commonplace business practices. Cyberbullying has matured into trolling, doxxing, flaming and spamming. An entire industry has emerged in ransomware, spamming, identity theft, personal image hijacking and their prevention. These are the small ongoing skirmishes.
The forms for the cyber war will take have all been argued and hypothesized; Nation State espionage, industrial sabotage, infrastructure destruction and malware galore.
I don't worry too much about the government and corporations. They have the resources to create the necessary defenses and contingency plans. I worry more about the real probable casualties, the average person.
What happens on the real zero day of the Cyber War. It is all too likely that the first attacks will be intended create panic, confusion and fear in the citizens of protagonist countries. This has the desired effect upturning the target country long before the attacks on infrastructure government or industry.
What would happen if tens of millions of Americans woke up to find their identities erased or their bank accounts empty. What if the only money they had available was what they had in their pockets the night before? And what if there was no information anywhere to verify any of your paper ID or to prove what you owned, ever.
Yes, eventually contingency plans would be put in place, but how many people would starve, turn to crime, be victims of crime or simply lose hope. Who would they blame? Who wiuld deserve the blame?
Any attack in any war is to accomplish some or all of several objectives; cripple capabilities, undermine authority and demoralize victims. That is how terrorism works.
There are many countries where wiping out their electronic foundation would hardly make a difference, In the West, just the outrage from citizens would do untold damage without a shot being fired or a bomb going off. This is not lost on any government, malefacor or enemy. Except the governments will not be the first victims and they do not suffer or starve like flesh and blood citizens.