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U.S. MUST DEFEND COMPUTER NETWORKS FROM CYBER ATTACK.

Because it will be difficult to prevent cyber attacks on critical civilian and military computer networks by threatening to punish attackers, the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  must focus its efforts on defending these networks from cyber attack, according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 a new RAND Corporation Rand Corporation, research institution in Santa Monica, Calif.; founded 1948 and supported by federal, state, and local governments, as well as by foundations and corporations. Its principal fields of research are national security and public welfare.  study.

The study finds that the United States and other nations that rely on externally accessible computer networks -- such as ones used for electric power, telephone service, banking, and military command and control -- as a foundation for their military and economic power are subject to cyber attack.

"Adversaries in future wars are likely to go after each other's information systems using computer hacking," said Martin C. Libicki, the report's lead author and senior management scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "The lessons from traditional warfare cannot be adapted to apply to attacks on computer networks. Cyberspace must be addressed in its own terms."

Working against connected but weakly protected computer systems, hackers can steal information, make the systems malfunction by sending them false commands and corrupt the systems with bogus information.

In most instances, the damage from cyber attacks is temporary and repeated attacks lead the victim to develop systems that are more difficult to penetrate. The RAND study finds that military cyber attacks are most effective when part of a specific combat operation -- such as silencing a surface-to-air missile system Noun 1. surface-to-air missile system - the shipboard system that fires missiles at aircraft
shipboard system - a system designed to work as a coherent entity on board a naval ship
 protecting an important target -- rather than as part of a core element in a long, drawn out military or strategic campaign.

Libicki said it is difficult to determine how destructive a cyber attack would be. Damage estimates from recent cyber attacks within the United States range The United States Range () is the most northern mountain range in the world and of the Arctic Cordillera. The range is located on the northeastern region of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada.  from a few billion dollars to hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

The study indicates that cyber warfare is ambiguous, and that it is rarely clear what attacks can damage deliberately or collaterally, or even determine afterward what damage was done. The identity of the attacker may be little more than guesswork, which makes it hard to know when someone has stopped attacking. The cyber attacker's motivation, especially outside physical combat, may be equally unclear.

The weapons of cyber war are amorphous, which eliminates using traditional approaches to arms control. Because military networks mostly use the same hardware and software as civilian networks, they have similar vulnerabilities.

"This is not an enterprise where means and ends can be calibrated cal·i·brate  
tr.v. cal·i·brat·ed, cal·i·brat·ing, cal·i·brates
1. To check, adjust, or determine by comparison with a standard (the graduations of a quantitative measuring instrument):
 to one another," Libicki said. "As a result, it is ill-suited for strategic warfare."

Because offensive cyber warfare is more useful in bothering, but not disarming, an adversary, Libicki does not recommend the United States make strategic cyber warfare a priority investment. He said similar caution is needed for deterring cyber warfare attacks, as it is difficult to attribute a given attack to a specific adversary, and the lack of an ability to counterattack Attacking an attacker. Even though a criminal hacker or other agent is attempting to penetrate a security perimeter or damage systems, the counterattack must not violate applicable laws.  is a significant barrier.

Instead, Libicki said the United States may first want to purse diplomatic, economic and prosecutorial pros·e·cu·to·ri·al  
adj.
Of, relating to, or concerned with prosecution: "a huge investigative and prosecutorial effort" Lucian K. Truscott IV. 
 efforts against cyber attackers.

The study, "Cyberdeterrence and Cyberwar Refers to hostile attacks and illegal invasions of computer systems and networks. See information warfare. ," can be found at http://www.rand.org.

The study was prepared by RAND Project AIR FORCE, a federally funded research and development center Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) conduct research for the United States Government. They are administered in accordance with U.S Code of Federal Regulations, Title 48, Part 35, Section 35.017 by universities and corporations.  for studies and analysis aimed at providing independent policy alternatives for the U.S. Air Force.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit research organization providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world.

For more information, visit http://www.rand.org or call 703/413-1100, ext. 5137.
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Publication:Networks Update
Date:Nov 1, 2009
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