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Steve Kerekes's picture
Consultant Strategic Communications

Seasoned strategist with expertise in media relations, crisis communications and content and message development. Experience includes supervisory positions at the nuclear energy industry's policy...

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  • Feb 23, 2021 10:22 pm GMT
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It goes without saying there's much to be done to improve the cybersecurity of U.S. critical infrastructure, the electric grid included. The specific recommendation made here, namely that our nation must go on the offensiveness to better deter attacks, comes from four highly credentialed leaders with the experience to make the argument persuasive.

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Roger Arnold's picture
Roger Arnold on Feb 24, 2021

I have to wonder if the authors of this unfortunate piece actually understand anything at all about cyber security and cyber warfare. Cyber attacks are all about exploiting vulnerabilities. Any defense necessarily hinges on deep knowledge of vulnerabilities and how they might be exploited. Such knowledge is absolutely essential in formulating defenses, but it's exactly the same knowledge that's essential in formulating attacks. If we have any defensive capability worthy of the name, you can take it as given that we have a corresponding offensive capability. Talking about the two as if they were independent is nonsense.

That suggests that the article is more about posturing than it is about cybersecurity. The authors appear to admire the (to me) appalling Bush doctrine of "preemptive warfare" -- the claimed right of the US to attack other countries not on the basis of what they've done, but on the basis of what the administration thinks they might do if we don't attack first. The doctrine that gave us our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Those have worked out so well, haven't they? So now these folks would have us launching cyberattacks against countries from which somebody thinks hostile hackers reside. Wonderful! Just wonderful!

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 26, 2021

Roger, in 2003-04 I had several pieces published on the subject of "pre-emptive warfare", which has a storied and colorful history going back to the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and before. At the time I was equally aghast at the principle - so much so, it's painful for me to revisit that time of my life.

Your comparison is an apt one. The author's proposed solution, equivalent to "the best defense is a good offense", could only escalate attacks, and in a bigger picture international tensions.

"So now these folks would have us launching cyberattacks against countries from which somebody thinks hostile hackers reside."

To expand on that thought: it's a relatively simple matter for a hacker to disguise the source of his attack by planting "false flag" information common to attacks from other countries. Recklessly counter-attacking - shooting in the dark - would permit countries, or even individuals, to instigate international crises. In your words: "Wonderful! Just wonderful!"

A tautology may be apropos: the best defense is...the best defense.

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