(Image: Alex Williamson)

WHEN the attacks came in late April 2007, they were silent and sudden. Government websites disappeared. National newspapers and banks dropped offline. Name servers – the address books of the internet – stopped responding. A few days earlier, the Estonian government had removed a Soviet-era war memorial from the capital Tallinn. In response, Estonia was cut off from the internet. Never before had the digital infrastructure of a country been targeted so broadly by retaliatory cyberattacks. The incident became known as Web War 1.

It wasn’t the last. Georgia, 2008: as Russian troops advance across the Georgian border, Russian hackers knock out government websites and block media outlets. Iran, 2010: the Stuxnet computer virus – widely thought to have been deployed by the US, Israel or both – damages hundreds of centrifuges in a uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. US, 2014: in the biggest corporate …

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