Feeds

Fight cyberwar with cold war doctrines, says former DHS chief

'100 countries have cyber-attack capabilities'

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.