Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

US needs new national strategy for era of cyber aggression, researchers urge

Date:
April 20, 2010
Source:
University of Cincinnati
Summary:
Deterrence won't work as a posture for protecting the United States from those who seek to use cyber aggression to damage the country. So says a new article, which suggests that to remain safe in cyberspace, the US must be much more prepared to go on the offensive.

The nominee to head the Pentagon's new CyberCommand testified in front of Congress late last week that employing Cold War strategies to cyberwarfare challenges may not work for the United States.. A newly published research paper by a University of Cincinnati professor and colleagues goes a step further and concludes more directly that deterrence can not serve as the primary national cybersecurity strategy.

Related Articles


In testimony on April 15th before the U.S. Congress, Lt. General Keith A. Alexander offered his view that a Cold War approach of nuclear deterrence as a strategy for securing the United States might not translate effectively into the new realm of cyberwarfare, an area where the U.S. is just beginning to think about broader strategic approaches.

That same subject area is addressed in a new article in the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management by UC Professor of Political Science Richard Harknett and co-authors John Callaghan and Rudi Kauffman. They say that to deal with cyberaggression, a more traditional model of warfighting will have to become the focus if cyberspace is to become more secure and safe.

In their article, "Leaving Deterrence Behind: War-Fighting and National Cybersecurity," Harknett and his co-authors argue that "the inherent characteristics of cyberspace require adoption of a full war-fighting posture that moves out of the fifty-plus year comfort zone of deterrence as the dominant strategic anchor... We must organize thinking about managing cyber-leveraged war so that damage is contained and reduced. Counter-intuitively, these futuristic threats require us to adopt the historical posture of traditional warfare."

By traditional warfare, the authors mean the traditional offense-defense framework that has defined war strategy throughout much of history. While a deterrence posture works in a nuclear context when the alternative for both sides is mutually-assured destruction, several factors unique to cyberwarfare make applying the deterrence model an awkward fit.

For one thing, cyberwarfare is an offense-dominated enterprise. Attacks can be carried out cheaply and in ways that make determining responsibility a slow process and difficult to establish. Deterrence is also undercut by the possibility of attackers using previously unknown approaches that greatly diminish their susceptibility to responses.

Harknett and his co-authors suggest the establishment of a three-tiered "continuum of cyberaggression" to help guide U.S. strategy in responding to attacks. They write: "Implicit in this categorization is that not every cyber threat reaches the level of national security concern, but given the unique, ubiquitous and dual-use nature of digital and computer technology, a national cybersecurity strategy must comprehensively consider the interconnectivity across the continuum of cyberaggression."

The three proposed tiers, in order of severity, are cybercrime, cyberespionage and reconnaissance, and the most serious level, cyber-leveraged war. The highest level would cover not just purely digital attacks, but also those that lead to disruption or destruction of physical infrastructure as well, such as a broad attack against the electric grid.

It is at this highest level that the United States needs to adopt policy that is oriented toward containing damage as well as for fighting in an offensive posture against those who would seek to engage in cyber-leveraged war. Being well-prepared, both offensively and defensively, will produce caution in the minds of others about attacking, and, thus, the strategy can produce a residual deterrent effect. But, the authors believe, this is likely to be temporary and under constant pressure.

"Importantly, as the ubiquity of cyber grows societally across the globe, effective norms against cyberaggression will become increasingly important in reigning in unacceptable forms of behavior in this new realm of human interaction," Harknett and colleagues write. This line of argument seems to parallel thoughts by Lt. General Alexander, who called on Congress to consider new legal and policy contexts for cyberspace.

In the end, however, Harknett and his co-authors conclude that "in facing down threats to national security, the United States must organize itself around the reality of war preparation and fighting, rather than the hope of avoidance, as the principle upon which cybersecurity will be advanced."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cincinnati. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Harknett et al. Leaving Deterrence Behind: War-Fighting and National Cybersecurity. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 2010; 7 (1): DOI: 10.2202/1547-7355.1636

Cite This Page:

University of Cincinnati. "US needs new national strategy for era of cyber aggression, researchers urge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100419132359.htm>.
University of Cincinnati. (2010, April 20). US needs new national strategy for era of cyber aggression, researchers urge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100419132359.htm
University of Cincinnati. "US needs new national strategy for era of cyber aggression, researchers urge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100419132359.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

China's "Great Firewall" Frustrates Internet Users

China's "Great Firewall" Frustrates Internet Users

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 31, 2015) The Chinese government moves to tighten regulations for virtual private network (VPN) services that are used to access websites and services normally blocked in China. That&apos;s affected many internet users in the country. Yiming Woo reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Excuses, Excuses: Weirdest Reasons People Give For Tardiness

Excuses, Excuses: Weirdest Reasons People Give For Tardiness

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) CareerBuilder surveyed around 5,000 workers and human resources managers nationwide to compile a list of strange excuses employees used when tardy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins