The War in Cyber Space

Symantec's report on a recent wave of cyberattacks includes the geographic breakdown of computers used in the attacks.

What do these four articles have in common.

They are all signs that cyber espionage is growing as a threat in today’s increasingly interconnected world. Not only for the U.S but for other countries and groups around the world. Many believe that most attacks are coming out of China and Russia. Countries like the U.S., Israel also use cyber espionage when it is to their advantage. The use of infected machines by hackers often makes it difficult to know where the attacks actually originate from.  Attacks maybe either done by nation-states, private groups or individuals and telling the difference is very difficult. Some hackers may try to attack defense targets, but most target businesses and involve attempts to steal intellectual property, including design documents, formulas and various manufacturing processes. How many attacks occur yearly is unknown, since many companies do not report such attacks publicly.

The critical importance of the fight against cyber espionage was underscored by retired four star Marine Corps general James Cartwright, in an interview with Reuters. He believes that we should be more public when it comes what general deterrents we have and are willing to use. He said “You can’t have something that’s a secret be a deterrent. Because if you don’t know it’s there, it doesn’t scare you. Many experts believe that a deterrents policy needs to be created to indicate the threat of possible action without being too specific. For now U.S officials are silent on the type of deterrents that the US has, however it is assumed that it has both defensive and offense ones it can use.

The Obama administration is currently crafting rules of engagement in cyber space after releasing its general policy earlier this year. Many see cyber space as the fifth pillar of defense, which had been land, sea, air and space. The one thing that is clear cyber espionage is only going to increase in sophistication and intensity as cloud computing becomes more popular.