Analysis: In Cyber Warfare, Policy Lags Technology

November 29, 2010 at 7:13 am Leave a comment

Hey everybody, hope you all had a great holiday week and were able to enjoy the time off to its fullest before finals!  Getting back into the final swing of the semester, I wanted to discuss a newer and extremely important IT field that is starting to show its importance over many others, that field being cyber warfare.  Power is everything on the world stage.  It assists in allowing countries to be heard more clearly and can either invoke fear or a feeling of security for those involved, but in this case, it’s all about security.

If you maybe someone interested in the IT field, network security would be a smart option to consider.  With the forming of the United States Cyber Command from last year and other countries beginning to do the same, we can only see the full importance of security.  Now think about how much information is stored on the internet and on internal networks of credit card companies, insurance companies, and bank servers for example.  Any company with information stored electronically has the potential risk of getting hacked and losing information on customers that it is responsible for.

And now with advances in computer technology, countries find it more and more of a reason to increase spending on digital defenses and new electronic weapons, but will have a difficult time building the policy framework to go along with it.

Malware or ‘malicious software’ such as the Stuxnet Computer worm are prime examples of potential national threats through cyber space.  The Stuxnet worm is widely believed to be the culprit in an attack on Iran’s nuclear program in which it could hack into the industrial control system, reprogramming it to create damage.  Dangers like this have called for the U.S. and Great Britain to increase focus in this area, along with emerging powers like China and Russia.

“In most areas, the relevant policies, roles and responsibilities have not kept pace with the technology — although this is changing,” said Prescott Winter, former chief information officer and chief technical officer at the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and now a senior official at computer security firm Arcsight Inc.  It’s kind of difficult to specify because the field still raises many moral, legal, ethical, and practical questions, most of which have been unaddressed.

Experts say major powers have long been developing systems to attack or hijack the software increasingly used to run essential industrial infrastructure, from traffic and supermarket supply control systems to nuclear power plants and telecommunications hubs.

So it comes down to the questions.  How could a nation retaliate if it isn’t possible to trace the national origin of an attacker who using only a laptop?  Who should pay for protection on critical national systems such as power grids owned by a private sector?  Is it a good idea for countries to acknowledge publically they have an offensive cyber attack capability or keep it in the dark until they unleash it on the target?

The importance of all this is for protection.  Not so much as an offensive attack.

Thanks for reading!  Here’s the link to the original article and don’t forget to take the quiz on blackboard!

Mike

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