Stopping Cyber War – International Law and Cyber Security
Cyberwarfare refers to the use of cyber attacks to intentionally or unintentionally attack a country, causing similar damage to real warfare and / or disrupting the essential computer networks. There’s considerable debate over the definition of cyber war, and whether or not such a thing really exists. It would be hard to count the number of times I’ve heard someone confidently proclaim, “Cyberspace is war!” when the question was posed to them. The truth is that while cyber war does exist, it doesn’t really feel like it to me. However, the very lack of a definable border makes cyber war much more difficult to fight and defeat.
One popular argument against the very idea of cyber war is that the DoD/NSA spends far too much money on cyber operations than they spend on their traditional military. It’s true that the DoD spends a lot of money on cyberops, and many of their cyberspace operations are classified. Nevertheless, one would think that if cyber war is a real option, then the DoD/NSA would already be spending a lot of its budget in cyberwarfare. I was actually quite surprised to learn this from a non-government source. Still, there are a number of very real cyber attacks occurring right now, some of which have resulted in large-scale sabotage efforts, including a denial of service attack that crippled the NYSE and the $3.2 billion Forex market. As I mentioned earlier, however, there is a lot of debate about whether or not cyber attacks constitute cyber war.
In fact, there are many people who would call any cyber attack an act of war, no matter how it occurs. This is because cyber attacks can, and do, cause an increase in military tension between two countries. It may also lead to sabotage attempts on the part of nations or terrorist groups. If cyber attacks were used in a coordinated way, particularly by nation-states with nuclear weapons capabilities, it is clear that cyber war would be a very real and dangerous situation.
However, the United States is not at the forefront of cyber warfare planning, despite how serious a problem it is. In fact, we are lagging behind our competitors. We currently have only a little bit of cyber warfare planning going on, and our ability to effectively defend our country is constantly limited due to our lack of cyber warfare capabilities in cyberspace. One might think that we should be better prepared for cyber war – but we really don’t have a strategy for cyber warfare, and our cyber-warriors do not have the skills necessary to win the cyber conflict. We are not moving to improve our cyber warfare capabilities, and frankly we do not have the time to develop them.
What is the reason for our nation not investing in cyber warfare planning? Some say that it is simply because we are not a part of the cyber realm, so how could we possibly participate in it? But actually, cyber warfare is still quite new, and many of the players have yet to be established as well. If we want the best cyber warriors, we are going to have to invest in their development, and make them a significant part of cyber warfare planning.
Why is it important for a nation to engage in cyber-warfare? It is vital that we understand how cyber warfare works, and the impact it has on our cyber space. Cyber warfare can attack any target in any region of the world with the potential to cause serious damage. In fact, during cyber warfare, a nation’s most valuable information is often compromised. And we do not yet know what types of attacks our country’s cyber space will be subjected to. It is imperative that if we want to deter cyber warfare that we have a united front against cyber criminals – an international cyber crime coordinating body to coordinate cyber-crime prevention – so that we can all work together against cyber criminals.
One solution that has been proposed is to create an international organization of cyber warriors, like the US military and the British Royal Navy. These cyber warriors would serve as cyber security agents for each nation. Each cyber-security agency would then share the responsibility of defending their nation from cyber criminals. This would make cyber warfare one of the major issues in international relations. It makes sense that an international organization of cyber warriors could help coordinate cyber defense efforts and deter cyber criminals from attacking our nation.
So, what is the problem with cyber warfare? Well, there is no international law that explicitly addresses cyber crimes, so the only way that we can solve this problem is through a patchwork of laws that address cyber crimes as a variety of different crimes. This is complicated enough already. What’s even more complicated is the fact that cyber criminals have become increasingly sophisticated at cyber warfare, and it is becoming too easy to protect against them. Only a worldwide, coordinated effort of defense against cyber criminals that goes beyond cyber defense and law enforcement can really make a difference. If we want to get serious about stopping cyber warfare, we need to embrace a holistic perspective that goes after cyber criminals and their associates at the same time as we go after those who use private companies’ systems to do harmful things.