Cyber capabilities are now a potent instrument of national power. This fact was dramatized last month when hackers shut down the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies almost half of the motor fuel consumed on the U.S. east coast, for five days. The hackers, according to U.S. officials, were from a Russian ransomware group named DarkSide, which successfully received payment from U.S. authorities.
The case represented one of the most visible recent examples of the mushrooming phenomenon of cybercrime. But it should also be recognized that state actors -- as well as crime syndicates -- are ramping up cyber capabilities to engage in gray zone warfare.