In mid-June 2019, the New York Times reported that the US had launched a cyber attack on Russian energy companies to install malicious software. This should enable the USA to disrupt the energy supply at a later date. On 23.6.2019 there were reports of a cyber attack by the USA against Iran. In this context, the USA has warned its own companies (including energy suppliers) against counterattacks by Iran.
So far there is little experience about possible processes of cyber wars. Cyber war is probably hard to control. It will also be difficult to limit a cyber war to two states. The US attack on Russia and Iran could also motivate other groups to launch attacks on the US. These groups do not have to be states, but could also be hacker groups, e.g. from North Korea, China or Russia, which cannot be controlled and deterred by the respective states. The source of an attack can often not be identified. An attack can provide clues to the originator, but these can also be deliberately misdirected tracks.
Suppose there are serious counter attacks on the USA as a result of the cyber attacks by the USA. Then an analysis of this could lead to the result that not only Iran but also other places, e.g. in Russia, are likely to be the originators. Such an outcome would probably result in threats. However, it is rather unlikely that such a cyber attack alone would lead to a nuclear counter-reaction, although the new US doctrine allows this.
However, this can change if there is a missile attack message in an early warning system in a temporal context (e.g. as a false alarm). However, such a risk does not only exist in the event of a false alarm on the part of the USA. Assuming that in time for a cyber attack on the USA with suspicions to Russia there is a false alarm in a Russian early warning system, then there is a risk that such a notification will be considered valid. For such an attack would be a logical consequence of the US doctrine. If the evaluation also reveals that the opponent is trusted to do it and your own ability to strike second is severely limited, a launch-on-warning would be the logical consequence (i.e. launching your own missiles before the opponent’s ones hit).
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