What Is an Act of Cyberwar?
03/03/2013 1 comentario
Trade War Versus Cyberwar. Cyberbreaches have graduated from a hacker foolery to headline news. After recent Mandiant report, we are rightly outraged and witnessing a call to arms from all corners, political and private, to defend our national assets, a intellectual property, technology, future designs and plans, from exploitation by China and other countries. Actions of these adversaries constitute another form of trade war, but do they represent “cyberwar”? While it is imperative to take action, we need to be careful how we frame the problem; how we use the terminology “cyberwar”. Are we in the midst of an unprecedented campaign of state sanctioned trade warfare? Absolutely. Are the losses we are encountering detrimental to our nation and economic competitiveness on a global scale? Without question. Should we take action to protect our corporate and government networks from compromise while deterring our adversaries? Of course. But does this activity rise to the traditional definition of “war” and does it warrant the instruments of warfare? When it comes to cyber-espionage and its application to trade warfare, my answer is no. We must use existing range of trade diplomacy levers and sanctions to apply pressure on China and other countries engaged in illicit trade warfare via cyber-exploitation. Escalation in the cyberworld is easy and the blowback is an uncontrolled risk. Principles of proportionality and deterrence are essential to ensure the cure is not worse than disease. Unless and until our critical infrastructures that provide energy, transportation, water, finance for our nation are attacked, we should not be responding with the instruments of war, whether it be cyber or kinetic. Today, a trade warfare is initiated through a spearphish, in which a simple click can lead to a loss of corporate secrets in a matter of minutes. Best offense is a strong defense and attribution of attacks. Our most important challenge is not taking the fight to the enemy, but rather having courage and political will to defend our own national treasures.