On the heels of a cyber attack that breached defense contractor Lockheed Martin's network defenses last week, the Pentagon is opening the door to new means of dealing with cyber attacks perpetrated by foreign nations. In a new, formal 30-page cyber strategy document--unclassified portions of which will be made public next month--the Pentagon has deemed that cyber attacks can constitute acts of war, and that responses can include traditional military retaliation.
The question now is: what constitutes a cyber attack from a foreign land? Pinning the blame for digital skullduggery on a foreign government (or anyone else for that matter) is often difficult to do with any degree of certainty. The Pentagon is of the opinion that the largest and most sophisticated attacks require state resources, and as such leave a fingerprint of government complicity if not outright support.
But the idea that conventional forces might be launched in retaliation for a cyber attack also conjures thoughts of Bond villian-esque plots to thrust the world into chaos. Could some teenager in Estonia with a knack for coding unwittingly (or wittingly) provoke an armed conflict? And even if a cyber attack was unquestioningly perpetrated on behalf of a foreign state, how does one weigh the appropriate military response?
These are the tough questions that will have to be hashed out in coming months and years as cyber warfare takes a place next to conventional might on the global battlefield. We'll learn more about the DoD's philosophy here when the unclassified portion of the document is released, but we do know that the document will push for an international doctrine among America's allies that dictates appropriate responses to cyber threats.
One popular idea is a doctrine of "equivalence." If a cyber attack produces death, damage, or some kind of economic or commercial disruption equivalent to what might be wrought by a military attack, it could be considered an act of war and a candidate for military retaliation. As one military official told the WSJ: "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks."
It sounds a bit subjective, but so these things go. The current international system of meting out retaliation and justifying military action is based on a patchwork system of international treaties, some dating back decades, as well as a code of (somewhat)mutually agreed upon international practices and methods. The DoD is heading into uncharted territory from an international framework standpoint, as nothing exists in these earlier treaties and agreements that applies to the digital perils of the 21st century.
That leaves a lot of room for uncertainty, but what is absolutely certain is the role cyber warfare will play in global conflicts going forward. The British Ministry of Defense announced just this week that it is placing cyber attacks on equal standing with other military conflicts, and that "cyber troops" will deploy with conventional forces in the field and elsewhere to defend critical networks. In that sense, the age of the true cyber warrior is just getting underway.
good, damaging our infrastructure from the inside, is an act of war and should be treated as such.
Whereas I do agree that these attacks should be pursued. It is FAR to easy to spoof or distribute an attack so that you never see where it REALLY came from. And saying that a major attack requires state support is daft. It only takes someone with knowledge and money.
Anyone that knows DDOS attacks know that it doesn't even require anything more than a small program and a cookie virus.
Playing Devil's Advocate since 1978
"The only constant in the universe is change"
-Heraclitus of Ephesus 535 BC - 475 BC
Lovely. I hope the US will not apply double standard, and Iran may also take some action against Israel after the next cyber-attack.
"responses can include traditional military retaliation"
It doesn't mean that they will. It just leaves that option open. A "computer in China" hacked 3 Canadian government agency earlier this year. Even though we're a peaceful nation, we reserve the right to bomb sh*t out of you for attacking us with our only 1 plane and 10 bombs in our inventory.
With identifying the hacker, does anyone remember the movie "War Games"?
I think a lot more STING operations should occur. The USA government should setup normal computers with old, new and varied operation systems. Then turn off the fire wall of these computers. Do not install virus protection. But do leave our own little virus that will upload to the bad guy and track all his movements to the source. Perhaps kill their computers or computers too. It would not kill their computer, unless we send the command. Maybe we can turn on their own microphones and cameras and take note to all their future planning too. Maybe we could watch their keystrokes and get all their own logins and passwords. Maybe we can take all their bank account information and see where they keep their stolen money and files. We can gather real evidence to really punish these individuals and identify them to the public! Then breaking and entering would not seem as fun, huh!
One individual does not have the right to go into the house of another individual, even if the door or window is unlocked. Also, if one individual does enter the home of another uninvited, the other individual does not have the right to into home of the one who did the crime. But should the police department or some other law enforcement or government agency leave their doors and windows unlocked, yes they can track down who entered their establishment, as long as they follow “legal do process by the law”. I like to see a lot more police and government agencies begin setting up STING operation and make public, when they catch a bad guy.
There is crack in the wall of the house. The mouse comes in uninvited. The mouse looks around the house and remembers all he sees. The mouse goes back to his friends and tells all he sees. Then the mouse and his friend mice come into the house. They see CHEESE! Wonderful beautiful CHEESE! SNAP goes the trap; the mouse are killed or caught. The mouse and his friends deserve what happen. The end to eating of the cheese! Now some will complain we are being unfair to the poor little mouse. Well, this is why individuals should not do this, but an official police or government agency should and they should follow the process of the law. What I am describing is not new. But it is long overdue to be implemented.
So does this make cyber activists like Anonymous terrorist groups or something?
This makes cyber activities like official police, protecting the public from burglary, theft and more. Or to say better. It gives the police better tools to get the bad guys.
would a cyber attack from an american be considered treason.
We're not just talking about police here. We're talking about the big boys with big toys. Big guns with a lot of funds. The article said "If a cyber attack produces death, damage, or some kind of economic or commercial disruption". We're just going to bomb you back to the stone age.
Right now everyone just needs to keep in mind that it is the Pentagon merely posturing with their eye on China.
Yes, the chinese and others are hacking the USA and our Government 1000 times a day! Should an orginize hacking government decide to turn off our electricity or water, yes they will get a very real response from us, USA. Yes, I am cool with that!
Here is how my little fantasy brain works. If I was in charge of the Pentagon and our Government was under attack by some other country and I have clear 100% proof of this, I stop any and all money going to that country and if they happen to hold any USA Treasury bonds, I NULL&VOID them and and other depts I have with that country I NULL&VOID it too.
Add more to my fantasy mind. If I was in charge of the Pentagon and our Government was under attack by some other country and I had clear 100% proof of this. USA was the creator of the internet and if I posses the ability to turn off communications to any illegal copy of stolen operating system remotely and stop them from communicating with each other, I hit the KILL SWITCH. All those foreign countries using illegal copies will be finish. I also will stop limit communication from that bad foreign country by 99%. The remaining communication would be diplomatic only.
Right. These "Act of Wars" only apply to certain nations - Can Iran declare war on Israel, China on the U.S., Russia on the U.S.?????
there is no need for Iran to declare war on Israel. they fund the terrorist groups that attack Israel every day and attacked with the military several times, so in fact if Israel initiated the computer virus against Iran it is completely justified because they are trying to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons.
wow and they only "declare" this till now? this is just as dangerous as a physical attack. just watch Live free or die hard. i guess the attack on the PSN opened some eyes and turned some heads.
"would a cyber attack from an american be considered treason." against a government site or government contract company.
OF COURSE IT WOULD!!!
stealing from your country is stealing from your country. there are no two ways to interpret that.
"Right now everyone just needs to keep in mind that it is the Pentagon merely posturing with their eye on China." yes and no.
American and China WANT to be allies. this isn't like American vs Russia.
China and Americans CAN NOT prosper with out each other.
If anything it is to add pressure to Chinese government to police its internet savvy citizens better or we might be "Bin Laden Raid" a few houses in China and have an legal excuse now.
Now Iran and North Korea. The USA is itching to pull that trigger.
More "justification" for violence and state sanctioned murder.More ways for the United States to "Double Standard" the world and it's citizens.
@ ssilletti...does that mean we should not defend ourselves? think again