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White House Should Develop Cyberspace Deterrence Policy, Says Sasc

By FierceGovernmentIT

June 27, 2013

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President Barack Obama should form a deterrence policy for cyberspace because existing policy documents fail to provide an integrated approach, says the Senate Armed Services Committee in a legislative report.

The committee wants to receive a deterrence policy from the White House within 270 days of the fiscal 2014 national defense authorization act becoming law, as well as an inter-agency process to control "the proliferation of cyberweapons through unilateral and cooperative export controls" and other means.

An inter-agency committee also should meet to develop definitions for controlled cybertechnologies and identify "how to address dual-use, lawful intercept, and penetration-testing technologies," the committee says.

However, Syracuse University professor Milton Mueller says cyberwarfare is not yet strategically viable, and that discussions about cyberattacks typically confuse cyberwar with data theft. Mueller says the idea "that cyberattacks can be 'deterred' through offensive cybercapabilities is a wrongheaded holdover from nuclear thinking."

The Center for Strategic and International Studies's James Andrew Lewis agrees that a deterrence policy for cybercrime and espionage is problematic, noting, "they fall below the thresholds found in international law to justify the use of force in self-defense, [which] make deterrence largely irrelevant."

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