Three cybersecurity experts recently told a meeting of the Congressional Cyber Caucus that current U.S. policies for protecting the United States against various forms of attack won't work for defending against cyberwarfare. Rand Corp.'s Martin Libicki said a policy of cyberdeterrence modeled after the strategy for nuclear attacks is problematic, largely because it is difficult to identify attackers, particularly when some nations appear to be sponsoring private attackers. Libicki also said it may be difficult for the U.S. to follow through with counterattacks when U.S. cyberexperts do not know how much damage those attacks could do.
Good Harbor Consulting's Paul Kurtz said it is still unclear what the U.S.'s cyberwarfare policies will look like, which is particularly troublesome because the United States lacks a definition of what constitutes an act of cyberwar. Additionally, it may be unwise to label some countries as cyberadversaries, Kurtz said. For example, although the Chinese government is often blamed for encouraging or sponsoring cyberattacks, the U.S. government needs to engage the Chinese about cyberdefense.
U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit director Scott Borg said the U.S. government needs to recognize that cyberattacks can cause "horrendous damage," and that attacks on targets such as electricity generators could have a long-lasting effect, primarily due to the U.S.'s limited ability to support new parts for damaged generators. Most of the parts for electricity generators come from China and India, and Borg said that emergency planners have not found a way to replace those parts quickly. He said shutting down electricity in a large area of the U.S. for several months would have the same level of economic damage as a nuclear attack.
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