Tag Archives: Cyberespionage

Offensive Cyber Operations and the Use of Force

Hostile actions against a computer system or network can take two forms.1 One form – a cyber attack – is destructive in nature. An example of such a hostile action is erasure by a computer virus resident on the hard disk of any infected computer. In this article, “cyber attack” refers to the use of deliberate actions and operations – perhaps over an extended period of time – to alter, disrupt, deceive, degrade, or destroy adversary computer systems or networks or the information and (or) programs resident in or transiting these systems or networks.2 Such effects on adversary systems and networks may also have indirect effects on entities coupled to or reliant on them. A cyber attack seeks to cause the adversary’s computer systems and networks to be unavailable or untrustworthy and therefore less useful to the adversary.

The second form – cyberexploitation – is nondestructive. An example is a computer virus that searches the hard disk of any infected computer and emails to the hostile party all files containing a credit card number. “Cyberexploitation” refers to the use of actions and operations – perhaps over an extended period of time – to obtain information that would otherwise be kept confidential and is resident on or transiting through an adversary’s computer systems or networks. Cyberexploitations are usually clandestine and conducted with the smallest possible intervention that still allows extraction of the information sought.3 They do not seek to disturb…

Cyber Threats and the Law of War

When I was invited to participate in a forum dealing with “National Security Threats in Cyberspace,” sponsored by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security and the National Strategy Forum, my assigned role was to provide a “succinct and brief” explanation of how the existing Law of War (LOW) might be applied to cyber threats. The Journal of National Security Law & Policy later requested that I reduce my comments to writing. No doubt this generous request was made due to the brevity of my analysis, rather than to my intellectual prowess. Others have dealt with this subject in a far more detailed and sophisticated fashion …

 

Will There Be Cybersecurity Legislation?

In the course of just a few decades, information technology has become an essential component of American life, playing a critical role in nearly every sector of the economy. Consequently, government policy affecting information technology currently emanates from multiple agencies under multiple authorities – often with little or no coordination. The White House’s Cyberspace Policy Review (the Review) wisely recognized that the first priority in improving cybersecurity is to establish a single point of leadership within the federal government and called for the support of Congress in pursuit of this agenda.

Congressional involvement in some form is inevitable, but there is considerable uncertainty as to what Congress needs to do and whether it is capable of taking action once it decides to do so. With an agenda already strained to near the breaking point by legislation to address health care reform, climate change, energy, and financial regulatory reform – as well as the annual appropriations bills – the capacity of Congress to act will depend, in some part, on the necessity of action. For the last eight years, homeland security has dominated the congressional agenda. With the memory of the terrorist attacks of September 11 becoming ever more distant, there may be little appetite for taking on yet another major piece of complex and costly homeland security legislation.

Part I of this article considers the question of necessity. The Homeland Security Act,2 the Federal Information Security Management Act,3 the Communications Act,4 and any number of other statutes provide substantial authorities over federal and nonfederal information infrastructure.5