Feeds

US military's cyberwar rules 'ill-formed,' says panel

And 'undeveloped.' And 'highly uncertain'

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The United States government has yet to form a coherent policy for engaging in warfare that involves attacks on a country's electrical power grids and other critical infrastructure, according to a non-profit group of scientists and policy advisors.

They called on policy makers to actively forge rules for how and when the military goes about mounting offensive and defensive acts of cyber warfare.

"Today's policy and legal framework for guiding and regulating the US use of cyberattack is ill-formed, undeveloped, and highly uncertain," the report, published by the National Academy of Sciences, states. "Secrecy has impeded widespread understanding and debate about the nature and implications of US cyberattack."

As a result, many nuances of cyberwar have remained poorly understood, even as the military actively prepares for it. They include the high degree of anonymity of those who carry out such attacks, making it hard to identify those who perpetrate them. Such attacks also result in much more uncertain outcomes than traditional warfare, making it hard to predict success and collateral damage.

The report comes just days before the Obama administration is expected to unveil a comprehensive plan for responding to attacks on US military networks, power grids, and other networks considered vital to national security. It was prepared by members of the academy's Committee on Offensive Information Warfare. They include William A. Owens, a former vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff; Kenneth W. Dam, deputy secretary in the Department of Treasury under President George W. Bush; and William O. Studeman, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

It is the latest sober reminder that the rules of cyberwar are significantly different than those of traditional warfare. Specifically, it cautions that "enduring unilateral dominance in cyberspace is neither realistic nor achievable by the United States." It also states that "Deterrence of cyberattacks by the threat of in-kind response has limited applicability."

The report, a summary of which is available here (PDF), goes on to recommend the US government engage in a "broad, unclassified national debate and discussion about cyberattack policy." ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.