U.S. President Joe Biden said further cyberattacks on American companies and the government will result in a "real shooting war."
Biden did not name any specific country but said armed conflict would be with a "major power."
Experts said Biden may have been referring to recent cyber attacks - allegedly perpetrated by groups in China and Russia. Recently, the U.S. has been the victim of attacks which crippled nationwide operations. These include recent attacks on network management company SolarWinds, meat processing company JBS, software company Kesaya and energy services company Colonial Pipeline.
Because of these, the U.S. has made cybersecurity a priority. The recent attacks on American companies had a much wider effect on the U.S. economy. The attacks disrupted fuel and food supplies in large parts of the country - causing shortages and price fluctuations.
"I think it's more than likely we're going to end up - if we end up in a real shooting war with a major power. It's going to be as a consequence of a cyberbreach of great consequence and it's increasing exponentially the capabilities," Biden said.
Last month, Biden had given Russia a list of critical U.S. infrastructures that are off-limits to cyberattacks. During his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putting, Biden called for a coordinated effort to prevent cyberattacks.
During a visit with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Biden reiterated the importance of the work the agency was doing. He assured the agency the government would do everything to make sure its work wasn't disrupted. The office leads 17 U.S. intelligence organizations.
"I'll never politicize the work you do. You have my word on that. It's too important for our country," Biden said.
Biden has repeatedly emphasized the growing threat posed by China. He said President Xi Jinping was "deadly earnest" in making China the most powerful military force in the world and he would do everything to make that happen - including cyberwarfare.