Feeds

Fight cyberwar with cold war doctrines, says former DHS chief

'100 countries have cyber-attack capabilities'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
State Dept shuts off unclassified email after hack. Classified mail? That's CLASSIFIED
Classified systems 'not affected' - but, is this reconnaissance?
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.