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For years, political leaders such as former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta have warned of the danger of a "cyber Pearl Harbor".Russia used such an attack in December 2015 in its hybrid warfare against Ukraine, though for only a few hours. Earlier, in 2008, Russia used cyberattacks to disrupt the government of Georgia's efforts to defend against Russian troops.U.S. doctrine is to respond to a cyberattack with any weapon, in proportion to the physical damage caused, based on the insistence that international law – including the right to self-defense – applies to cyber conflicts.In 2013, Russian chief of the general staff Valery Gerasimov described a doctrine for hybrid warfare that blends conventional weapons, economic coercion, information operations, and cyberattacks.If Russian President Vladimir Putin sees his country as locked in a struggle with the United States but is deterred from using high levels of force by the risk of nuclear war, then perhaps cyber is the "perfect weapon".Russia's cyber interference in the 2016 American presidential election was innovative. Above all, the U.S. must demonstrate that cyber attacks and manipulation of social media will incur costs and thus not remain the perfect weapon for warfare below the level of armed conflict.
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