Cyber Defense by RAND
The RAND Corporation recently released a report that recommends that the United States' government will probably fare better by concentrating on cyber defense efforts—that is, pursuing legal, economic, or even diplomatic action—against cyber terrorists and online outlaws instead of developing and investing in cyber warfare schemes.
The study has been published right during the time when the American military is firing off its new integrated Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) program this October. The new agency will be tasked with IT-based attacks, defense, and operations as well as run under the U.S. Strategic Command's jurisdiction.
In any case, author Martin C. Libicki—the author of the report entitled "Cyberdeterrence and Cyberwar"—contends that cyber warfare is more of a nuisance to virtual criminals than a solution to their spreading plague of malware and information pilfering. To be more precise, cyber war is best used in a sparse and precise secondary role when it comes to offensive tactics. For example, it can be utilized when silencing a surface-to-air missile network in order to enable aircrafts to penetrate the defenses of a nuclear installment.
RAND Technology recommends increasing Cyber Defenses
Libicki further argues that trying to use offensive cyber attack plans for an entire operation in hopes that it will be more than enough to bring down enemy facilities is not prudent at all. It is better used on certain missions than on a whole campaign. Planners need to ask themselves first whether or not strategic cyber war could compel political influence and compliance in the same way that strategic air or military strike would.
The RAND paper also emphasizes that even mere cyber counterattacks could be misinterpreted by the enemy, because treating them as acts of war could be construed as indulging private corporation owners from third-party liability. Indeed, why should you bother investing on cyber security if your losses can be covered a la FEMA?
Nevertheless, Libicki doesn't underestimate the ever-looming threat of cyber attacks; he is fully aware of the billions of dollars worth of damages that these offensives have cost the U.S. government. He simply believes that more defensive tactics and less offensive ones is the way to go when it comes to conducting cyber warfare.