Feeds

Fight cyberwar with cold war doctrines, says former DHS chief

'100 countries have cyber-attack capabilities'

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Cold war doctrines on how to respond to nuclear attack need to be applied to the 21st century threats of cyber attacks and espionage, according to former US Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff.

Chertoff told delegates at the RSA Conference in London that around 100 countries had cyber-espionage and cyber-attack capabilities. Both kinds of attack used the same tools and might be used to mount anything from a "garden variety cyber-espionage" attack resulting in the corruption of financial data to something that might result in loss of life, such as a possible attack against air-traffic control systems.

"I'm not saying that you need to respond to virtual attacks with real attacks but I do think it's important to define when and how it might be appropriate to respond," Chertoff explained. "Everyone needs to understand to rules of the game," he added.

Agreed principles would include how it might be allowable to respond to persistent cyber attacks.

Spoofing and disguising the origins of cyber attacks are routinely applied via the use of botnets and other tactics. Chertoff acknowledged attributing the true source of a cyber attack was difficult, but argued that it still ought to be permissible to strike back against the source of an attack, whoever was ultimately controlling compromised systems.

"In cases where you have a persistent attack on critical national infrastructures, incapacitating the platform used to attack is something you have to do," Chertoff explained. He argued that the possibility of counter-attacks might provide an incentive to countries whose internet hygiene is poor to clean up their act.

Ira Winkler, president of the Internet Security Advisors Group - an ex-NSA officer turned cybercrime guru and author - said that since security wasn't built into air traffic control systems by design, attacks against these systems might be feasible, even though we are thankfully yet to see any such attack. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.