Tags: cyber-warfare | NKorea | Sony | Snowden

For US, Cyber-Warfare Remains Uncharted Battlefield

By    |   Wednesday, 24 Dec 2014 10:31 AM

The U.S. militarily has become ever more prepared for both offensive and defensive cyber-warfare. At the same time, more work is needed to fine tune the rules of engagement, Politico reported.

In what Politico termed a "first-strike" the U.S., working in partnership with Israel, unleashed the Stuxnet virus to slow down Iran's quest for an atom bomb. The virus disrupted centrifuges that were enriching uranium needed for a nuclear weapon.

In at least one instance, however, the U.S. reportedly opted not to retaliate against a cyber attack after Iran hacked into the sites of a number of major American banks, Politico reported.

After officials publicly blamed North Korea for hacking the computers of Sony Pictures, White House officials said that doing nothing was not an option. President Barack Obama declared the U.S. would "respond proportionally" and "in a place and time and manner that we choose," The New York Times reported.

The internet in North Korea was taken down for about nine and a half hours earlier this week, according to the BBC.

Complicating cyber-warfare doctrine is that identifying with a high degree of certainty where a computer attack originated is no easy matter. Some commentators have questioned whether the FBI had ironclad evidence to point a finger at North Korea for the Sony attack, according to Politico.

Decision makers are guided by Presidential Policy Directive 20, an 18-page document on cyber-warfare Obama signed in October 2012. The directive was among the thousands of pages of confidential materials made public by Edward Snowden, the former NSA employee now living in Moscow.

Still, rules for cyber-warfare remain underdeveloped. Officials were left to determine the best way to respond to North Korea, what constitutes a proportional response, and to weigh any potential risks, according to Politico.

"Unlike plans for possible conventional military attacks in hotspots, the U.S. doesn't have off-the-shelf response plans for cyber attacks of this sort," said Matthew Waxman of Columbia University Law School.

"The legal authorities, bureaucratic responsibilities and other things are still being worked out inside the U.S. government," Waxman told Politico.

Gen. Keith Alexander, the former NSA director who also headed U.S. Cyber Command said: "We don't have the norms, the rules of engagement, the rules of the road for how we and other countries should operate in this space," according to Politico.

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The U.S. militarily has become ever more prepared for both offensive and defensive cyber-warfare. At the same time, more work is needed to fine tune the rules of engagement, Politico reported.
cyber-warfare, NKorea, Sony, Snowden
390
2014-31-24
Wednesday, 24 Dec 2014 10:31 AM
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