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­.s. Needs New National Strategy in Era of Cyberaggression, Paper Concludes

By ­niversity of Cincinnati

April 29, 2010

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The United States must take a more offensive stance to protect itself from cyberaggression, according to a new paper by University of Cincinnati researchers Richard Harknett, John Callaghan, and Rudi Kauffman.

The paper,"Leaving Deterrence Behind: War-Fighting and National Cybersecurity," published in the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, concludes that "the inherent characteristics of cyberspace require adoption of a full war-fighting posture that moves out of the 50-plus year comfort zone of deterrence as the dominant strategic anchor." What is needed is a traditional offense-defense scheme, with the authors arguing that the offense-dominated nature of cyberwarfare does not align well with a deterrence model.

The researchers propose setting up a triple-level "continuum of cyberaggression" to help lead U.S. cyberattack response strategy. The three levels—cybercrime, cyberespionage and reconnaissance, and cyber-leveraged war—are arranged in order of severity, with the highest tier encompassing not just digital attacks, but also those that cause disruption or destruction of physical infrastructure.

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