[LINK] Australia Gifts Military Bases to Cyber Outlaw

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Mon Nov 8 09:39:28 AEDT 2010

[Prize offer at the end]

Pentagon wants to wage cyber attack on enemies
Date: November 08 2010
The Sydney Morning Herald, reprinted from The Washington Post
Ellen Nakashima

The Pentagon's new Cyber Command is seeking authority to attack 
computer networks around the globe to protect American interests, 
drawing objections from Obama administration lawyers uncertain about 
the legality of offensive operations.

Cyber Command's commander, General Keith Alexander, who also heads 
the National Security Agency, wants his new command to be able to 
mount what he has called ''the full spectrum'' of operations in 

Offensive actions could include shutting down part of an opponent's 
computer network or changing a line of code in an adversary's 
computer. They are operations that destroy, disrupt or degrade 
targeted computers or networks.

But current and former officials say that senior policymakers and 
administration lawyers want to limit the military's offensive 
computer operations to war zones such as Afghanistan, in part because 
the CIA claims covert operations outside the battle zone are its 
responsibility and the State Department is concerned about a 
diplomatic backlash.

The administration debate is part of a larger effort to develop a 
coherent strategy to guide the government in defending the US from 
attacks on computer and information systems that officials say could 
damage power grids, corrupt financial transactions or disable an 
internet service provider.

The effort is fraught because of the unpredictability of some cyber 
operations; an action against a target in one country could 
unintentionally disrupt servers in another.

Policymakers are also struggling to delineate Cyber Command's role in 
defending critical domestic networks in a way that does not violate 
Americans' privacy.
The policy wrangle predates the administration of President Barack 
Obama but was renewed last year as Mr Obama declared cyber security a 
matter of national and economic security. The Pentagon has said it 
will release a national defence cyber-security strategy by the end of 
the year.

In testimony to Congress in September, General Alexander warned that 
Cyber Command could not yet defend the country against cyber attack, 
because it ''is not my mission to defend today the entire nation''. 
If an adversary attacked power grids, he added, a defensive effort 
would ''rely heavily on commercial industry''.

''We need to come up with a more Š dynamic or active defence,'' he said.

He has described active defence as ''hunting'' inside a computer 
network for malicious software, which some experts say is difficult 
to do in open networks and would raise privacy concerns if the 
government were to do so in the private sector.

But officials still have not resolved what constitutes an offensive 
action or which agency should be responsible for carrying out attacks.

The CIA has argued that such action is covert, which is traditionally 
its turf. While defence officials say offensive operations are the 
province of the military and are part of its mission to counter 
terrorism, especially when, as one official put it, ''al-Qaeda is 

[A prize to the person who can find the equivalent line in '1984'.]

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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