CyberWar May Require Military Response

CyberWar waged against the United States may call for a formal military response, according to a Pentagon cyber strategy document due to become public this month.

(Integrated Network Operations and Security Center)

[The report] concludes that the Laws of Armed Conflict—derived from various treaties and customs that, over the years, have come to guide the conduct of war and proportionality of response—apply in cyberspace as in traditional warfare, according to three defense officials who have read the document.

The strategy will also state the importance of synchronizing U.S. cyber-war doctrine with that of its allies, and will set out principles for new security policies. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization took an initial step last year when it decided that, in the event of a cyber attack on an ally, it would convene a group to "consult together" on the attacks, but they wouldn't be required to help each other respond. The group hasn't yet met to confer on a cyber incident.

Pentagon officials believe the most-sophisticated computer attacks require the resources of a government. For instance, the weapons used in a major technological assault, such as taking down a power grid, would likely have been developed with state support, Pentagon officials say.

Science fiction fans have been bracing for this development. For example, in Bruce Sterlings 1998 novel Distraction, he deals specifically with netwar between countries:

"Hey," the officer said proudly. "I was in Second Panama. That was classic netwar! We took down the local regime just by screwing with their bitstreams. No fatalities! Never a shot fired!"
(Read more about netwar)

Even earlier, fans recall the 1975 science fiction novel The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner. Individuals unleash cyber-attacks on other individuals (see the article on computer worm - a term coined by Brunner); plans are made to take down the datanet in the event of enemy invasion (see the article for Electric Skillet).

Perhaps readers can think of earlier examples.

Via Wall Street Journal.

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