Thursday, December 11, 2008

Defining Cyberwar

On December 8th 2008, the CSIS Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency released a report entitled Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency.. The Commission's three major findings are:
  1. Cybersecurity is now one of the major national security problems facing the United States;
  2. Decisions and actions must respect American values related to privacy and civil liberties; and
  3. Only a comprehensive national security strategy that embraces both the domestic and international aspects of cybersecurity will improve the situation.
Of equal importance, the Commission notes many important questions that need to be answered in order to create a unified and effective cybersecurity policy. One important question posed by the commission is "at what point does a cyberattack constitute an act of war or a violation severe enough to justify a response?"

This question is critical importance as it must be answered in order for the United States federal government to create a cyber deterrent policy. Any deterrent strategy must be based on clear red lines that articulate what actions are considered an acts of war. Further retribution strategies must be delineated so any adversary understands that malicious acts crossing defined red lines will be meet with punishment. Without clearly defined red lines or the threat of punishment adversaries will not be deterred from conducting withering attacks.

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