False flags corrupt campaign attribution in cyberspace
In any other area of warfare, there is typically a somewhat systematic series of escalations that occur as a conflict emerges. Most experts in the field refer to this activity as "climbing the escalation ladder."
Usually, this is predicated on a series of ever-increasing actions by adversaries and enemies that engage in a back-and-forth tit-for-tat campaign of actions. Typical stages in this series are as follows:
- Pre-crisis, diplomatic maneuvering, gesturing
- Military signaling, testing, and displaying of weapons and capabilities
- Selective mobilization of forces, further displays of capabilities (saber-rattling)
- Covert actions against the adversary (intelligence collection and/or clandestine activities)
- Pre-positioning of assets
- Limited escalation of engagement
- Selective strikes
- Full engagement (war)
While there can, of course, be a variety of differing "ladders"...