Some Americans are concerned about cyberwarfare being directed against the United States. Jeffrey Hunker, a Pittsburgh-based cybersecurity consultant who worked for the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton as senior director for critical infrastructure, said the problem of Cyberwar is compounded by the fact that the appropriate response to a cyberattack hasn’t yet been worked out. Hunker noted that the Pentagon’s recently unclassified cyberwar strategy treats cyberattacks, no matter who launches them, as acts of war, and other countries may see them in the same light.
Furthermore, the rules of engagement and response have yet to be defined. For instance, when is it an act of war and what is the mechanism and doctrine for deterrence? Jeffrey Carr, chief executive officer of Taia Global, a security consulting firm based in McLean, Va., and an expert who blogs about cyberconflict, expects attacks by non-state actors in the near future. “I think you’ll see more of that in the next few years,” Carr said. “You’ll see an increase in religious or other fanatical groups that just want to destroy things.”
For example, the Israeli external intelligence agency Mossad reportedly used a Trojan to infect a computer belonging to Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh?, a Hamas military commander. Mossad agents allegedly read his email, figured out his travel schedule and assassinated him in a Dubai hotel room in January 2010.
Many countries have access to at least low-level cybercriminal technology. Both Hunker and Carr noted that cyberweapons of any kind are much cheaper than the usual military hardware and level the playing field somewhat. Destructive malware can also be downloaded from the Internet, and it is often just a matter of devoting some time and resources to developing it further.
Carr said that in order to reduce the danger that small, faraway conflicts could precipitate an attack against the U.S., there would have to be a rethinking of national cyberdefense that would scrap the “fortress” mentality in favor of a more focused set of solutions. For example, the Department of Defense is experimenting with “microgrids” to power military bases — essentially localized power supplies. That would eliminate the possibility that a power grid attack could accomplish much. But the truth is that cyber conflict is far more likely to involve smaller players — and the dangers associated with that possibility are just as real.
Full Story at Jesse Emsak via Scientific American
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