Meaning Of Speculative Essay Definition

may be felt by users regarding the loss of control over their systems that viruses and worms necessarily entail.

9.4
CYBER-RETALIATION

A special case of using attack techniques for defensive purposes arises in the realm of active defense. Traditionally, cybersecurity is based on the notion of passive defense—a defense that imposes no penalty on a would-be attacker apart from the time that the attacker needs to mount its attack. Under such circumstances, the attacker can continue attacking unpunished until success or exhaustion occurs.

The notion of cyber-retaliation as a part of an active defense is intended to make cyberattackers pay a price for attacking (whether or not they are successful), thus dissuading a potential attacker and offering a deterrent to attacking in the first place. But cyber-retaliation raises both technical and policy issues.

From a technical standpoint, the tools available today to support retaliation are inadequate. Identification of cyberattackers remains problematic, as indicated in Section 5.1 (Attribution). Today, the identification of an attacker is an enormously time-consuming task—even if the identification task is successful, it can take weeks to identify an attacker. Furthermore, considerable uncertainty often remains about the actual identity of the attacker, who may be an individual using an institution’s computer without the knowledge or permission of that institution. Such uncertainty raises the possibility that one’s retaliatory efforts might result in significant collateral damage to innocents without even necessarily affecting the perpetrator. In addition, the technical mechanisms for striking back are generally oriented toward causing damage to computer systems rather than being directed at individual perpetrators.

From a policy standpoint, cyber-retaliation raises issues such as the dividing line between regarding a cyberattack as a law enforcement matter versus a national security matter, the appropriate definitions of concepts such as “force” or “armed attack” as they apply to cyberattacks, the standards of proof required to establish the origin of a cyberattack, and the nature of the appropriate rules of engagement that might be associated with a cyberattack.

These comments should not be taken as denigrating passive cybersecurity measures, which remain central to the nation’s cybersecurity posture. Nevertheless, passive defenses have strong limitations, and active defense may provide a more robust set of options if the technical and policy issues can be resolved.

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