by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The reliance of the United States’ critical infrastructure on high technology renders it vulnerable to future cyber attacks by the Russians, making it difficult for the U.S. government to retaliate against Moscow for trying to interfere with the presidential election.
The U.S. intelligence community formally accused Russia earlier this month of hacking into American political organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, in order to influence the 2016 election.
But experts warn that the United States should be wary of starting a “tit-for-tat” cyber war with the Russians, given that the U.S. economy and other critical systems are more dependent on advanced technology and therefore more vulnerable to attack.
“Though we have overwhelming power in this policy area, we are also the most vulnerable nation in terms of the very advancement of the Internet as a part of our society and as a part of our economy,” Claude Barfield, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute with expertise in international trade and cyber security, told a small audience in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
“We are afraid in terms of retaliating against the Russians that we will not be able to have what is called ‘escalation dominance,’” Barfield continued. “In other words, you start a tit-for-tat. If the Russians came back at us, and if we went back at them, our economy and society are more vulnerable than the Russians, and the Russians know that.”