The recent cyberware attack on JBS SA - the world's largest meat supplier company - has once again drawn attention to the fact that cyberspace is the new battlefront for global powers.
Forcing shutdowns of nine beef plants in the United States, the attack created turmoil in the company's poultry production and pork plants. Forty-seven operating sites across Australia were halted.
Earlier last month, another cyber attack on Colonial Pipeline - one of the largest gasoline suppliers of the USA - shut down its operations for an entire day.
The attack triggered gas shortages and price spikes, followed by consumer shocks.
Both the high profile invasions were ransomware attacks. Only last year, many businesses, including logistics companies, insurance giants as well as social media giants such as Twitter, have all come under such ransomware attacks. Even hospitals, schools and libraries were not spared.
Encrypting the target organisation's data, ransomware sabotages the entire computer network of these organisations. It holds data hostage in exchange for a huge ransom. When victims fail to pay the ransom, attackers release their deciphered data on the open internet.
Colonial Pipeline had to pay a $4.4 million ransom to restart its operation.
Darkside, an eastern European hacker group, claimed responsibility for the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline.
Quite interestingly, the White House is suspecting that the cyberattack on meat supplier JBS SA originated in Russia.
Whether these attacks are privately organised or state backed still remains unclear, but that the attacks exacerbate the challenging relationship between the US and Russia is evident.
Even though there is no indication that the Russian government benefited directly from the ongoing ransomware crimes, President Vladimir Putin can take these events as a strategic bonus for Russia.
Now that large corporations like JBS or Colonial Pipelines are at stake, creating a massive disruption in the everyday life of citizens and jeopardising the economy, these attacks have managed to grab worldwide attention.
These attacks are also a wake up call for organisations as well as governments to probe their vulnerabilities and address them accordingly.
The trajectory of recent attacks shows that the situation will only get worse from here. Besides, not all attacks will have the same intention.
In the future, cyberware attacks could be designed to rupture nuclear power stations or military systems.
Darkside taking credit for the attack has an eerie resemblance to the culture of terrorist groups such as IS or Al-Qaeda taking credit for nefarious attacks on human life.
Just like land, sea, and air, cyberspace is also an important domain. It is quite easy to speculate that future conflicts will take place in the cybersphere.
As interstate military competitions grow, countries will be busy strengthening their cyberwarfare and defense capabilities, alongside strengthening traditional military capability.
While the fact that cyberfare does not immediately lead to bloodshed and violence may come as a relief to some people, its long term potential to cause damage is as good as traditional weapons, if not more.
If the cessation of fuel supply for a day can create such havoc, imagine what would happen if water and electricity supply in a country was forced to shut down. It is tantamount to an invasion on the country's reserves.
Furthermore, since the cybersphere has no clear borders, there are no neighbouring countries. Every country could be a possible adversary.
Meanwhile, conflicts with neighbouring countries would gain a new dimension as cyberattacks become a substitute to military attacks. We may have already entered that era.
In cyberwarfare, those taking part have the advantage of using proxies. Proxies can stop the victim from identifying where the attack originated from. This means, it will be easy for aggressors to claim innocence, while at the same time tensions between countries grow.
While traditional defence systems can identify whether an attack is imminent, cyber attacks will not necessarily be that easily predictable.
Only after the attack will the affected party realise that it has been invaded.
Point specific defence measures like the physical sphere are obsolete in cyberspace.
The alarming rise in cyber espionage, both political and commercial, should be a warning for every state.
The agreement between the US and China in 2018 to clamp down on cyber espionage shows that it has already become a threat for nations.
Political or government backed espionage is the future of modern day warfare. As even Bangladesh witnessed through the 2016 attack on Bangladesh Bank, no country or establishment will be spared.
It is time every country, and every institution, remains prepared for this new battlefront.