Cyberattack wave raises big questions

In light of the wave of recent attacks on U.S. targets, the U.S. government must determine its top priorities in cybersecurity.

As all the media attention in the past couple of weeks indicates, cyber threats continue to grow, with notable attacks reported in the private sector, such as Sony, and defense industry, such as Lockheed Martin. In addition to that news, the Defense Department announced its position on retaliatory strikes in response to serious cyberattacks. Take into account the State Department’s involvement in the Google Gmail hacking incident, and you can see why many believe we have entered a new phase in the evolution of the cyber domain.

Given all that has gone on during the past few weeks, Congress and the White House are asking: What is the threshold that must be crossed before we respond in the physical world?

The Defense and State departments must be joined at the hip and proactively develop new policies to address this complex subject. The recent overt activity begs the question: What are the U.S. military’s and State Department’s top priorities in cybersecurity? Although there are many considerations, one of the most important areas has to be international cooperation to support attack attribution.

A high degree of confidence in attack attribution is essential if we are going to respond with weaponry in the physical and kinetic category. Another important aspect of this is whether we are prepared and willing to launch missiles against a data center in an uncooperative country that has been compromised and used as an unknowing mechanism to delivery malicious attack traffic. This will be very interesting to follow.

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