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Law of Armed Conflict To Apply To Cyberwar 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the logic-bombs-vs-smart-bombs dept.
charter6 writes "Gen. Kevin Chilton, the head of STRATCOM, just declared that the Law of Armed Conflict will apply to cyberwar, and that the US won't rule out conventional (read: kinetic) responses to cyber-attacks. This means that we consider state-supported 'hackers' to be subject to the Geneva Conventions and Customary International Law, including the rules of proportionality and distinction (i.e. if we catch them, we can try them for war crimes). Incidentally, it also means we consider non-state cyber-attackers to be illegal enemy combatants, which means we can do all kinds of nasty stuff to them."
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Law of Armed Conflict To Apply To Cyberwar

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  • Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:16PM (#27883471)

    This seems like a great idea, until you realize that any american geek who prods too deeply will be branded an enemy combatant.

    Who knows what happens to enemy combatants.

    • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Funny)

      by Jurily (900488) <jurily.gmail@com> on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:20PM (#27883505)

      Who knows what happens to enemy combatants.

      Cyber Guantanamo. Maybe they could swipe a small beach from Cyber Yugoslavia [juga.com]

      • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Funny)

        by netruner (588721) on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:30PM (#27883571)
        Cyber Guantanamo - wouldn't that be like making them use AOL over a 9600 baud modem? Or would that be considered torture by the Geneva Convention?
        • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Funny)

          by Jurily (900488) <jurily.gmail@com> on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:34PM (#27883607)

          Cyber Guantanamo - wouldn't that be like making them use AOL over a 9600 baud modem? Or would that be considered torture by the Geneva Convention?

          Sir, you're replying to a comment submitted via GPRS on the Worcester-London train. I now officially hate you.

        • Yes, and in the future they'll be trying to follow the chain of command back to who authorized Bulletin Boarding.
        • by Zakabog (603757)

          Cyber Guantanamo - wouldn't that be like making them use AOL over a 9600 baud modem? Or would that be considered torture by the Geneva Convention?

          *shudders*

          I actually started out on the internet with AOL over a 2400 bit/s modem (back when they charged per hour.) Chat rooms would lag, I would usually get a page of text, pause for 5 seconds, another page of text. It was terrific for me though since AOL over a slower than molasses connection was all I knew of the internet at the time. I remember downloading the first big file (a wav file of a song from a video game) over that connection. Took me about 12 hours to do it (left my computer on all night, my

    • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chris098 (536090) on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:21PM (#27883511) Homepage
      The whole "illegal enemy combatant" thing is immoral regardless of whether the "attacks" are physical attacks or just attempts made to disrupt digital communications.

      They do have a point though - communications infrastructure is very important both for the economic wellbeing of the country, and to allow other branches of the military to coordinate and defend the country.

      There really shouldn't be any reason to not consider traditional armed responses to digital attacks. People can cause damage. A teenage hacker may not have the same violent intent as a suicide bomber or a rogue nation plotting a traditional war, but that doesn't stop them from doing something malicious with serious repercussions.

      It sounds good in theory, but like the parent, I also look at our country's history of using good judgment in situations like this, and worry.
      • by Forbman (794277)

        the modern treatment of "illegal enemy combatant" by the US has been immoral. But, it allows for the summary execution of saboteurs, spies, etc. during times of war.

        In my mind, that means sending in the spooks or SpecFor guys and capping them, rather than black-bagging them and torturing the crap [literally & figuratively] out of them. Save that for their hardware.

        But, we couldn't really find the Timothy McVeighs almost 20 years ago, and probably couldn't now, either, despite the PATRIOTACT, NSA spying,

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Roger W Moore (538166)

          ...it allows for the summary execution of saboteurs, spies, etc. during times of war.

          Someone hacking a Pentagon computer from, say, Europe is not doing it from a country that is at war with the US. However, if the US response to that hacker is to blow up his house it sounds like a very good way to end up in a state of war with lots of countries. If local law enforcement will not handle such threats then a proportionate response would be to threaten to break all network ties with that country. Apart from solving the problem there are not many countries who's economies would not suffer gre

          • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Paua Fritter (448250) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @03:08AM (#27886301)

            Very true. But you, when all you have is a hammer, everyone else looks like a nail.

            The US is so hypermilitarised that militarism is a natural first response to anything. This is how we get such absurdities as "humanitarian bombing campaigns" and "destroying the village in order to save it".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ultranova (717540)

          the modern treatment of "illegal enemy combatant" by the US has been immoral. But, it allows for the summary execution of saboteurs, spies, etc. during times of war.

          Is there any added value in summary execution as opposed to imprisonment, or even execution after a proper trial? If a bomber pilot who destroys a bridge but is shot down is not executed but merely imprisoned, why should a saboteur who dynamites that same bridge be treated any differently? Sure, he is being sneaky about it rather than painting

      • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

        by causality (777677) on Friday May 08, 2009 @08:09PM (#27883861)

        The whole "illegal enemy combatant" thing is immoral

        Like many state-sponsored practices which are immoral, it's designed to intimidate.

        There really shouldn't be any reason to not consider traditional armed responses to digital attacks. People can cause damage. A teenage hacker may not have the same violent intent as a suicide bomber or a rogue nation plotting a traditional war, but that doesn't stop them from doing something malicious with serious repercussions.

        Assuming that your top priority is punishing those who perpetrate such attacks, this makes a great deal of sense. Now, if your top priority is to prevent computer and network intrusions, I think our efforts and resources would be better spent towards hardening machines and networks, identifying insecure practices, and holding personally responsible the people who are supposed to keep those systems secure.

        What I mean by "priority" is that we can do this and still try to locate and arrest the perpetrators, it would just have a lower priority than securing our systems to prevent such intrusions in the first place. In other words, they're not mutually exclusive even though I believe one of those options makes a lot more sense. I just think it's silly to believe that stiff penalties alone are going to prevent the intrusion attempts that anyone running any sort of server already accepts as inevitable.

        It sounds good in theory, but like the parent, I also look at our country's history of using good judgment in situations like this, and worry.

        I think that if you cut through all the peripheral issues and locate the core principle, this goes back to the idea that "freedom isn't free." What people seem to want is the perfect ability to secure us against all sorts of threats while retaining all civil liberties and preventing the abuse of power. That just isn't realistic and history, particularly that of the 20th century, has been the story of why that doesn't work and isn't going to work. Personally, I'd rather retain my civil liberties and have a government that doesn't have so many easily-abused powers, even if that means that some criminals who do real damage might get away with it (though more likely than not, they'd just be dealt with using the criminal justice system instead of the Gitmo system).

        It seems evident that people who value freedom more than a need to "get those bastards", more than their party platform, more than their desire to feel safe from a threat be it real or imagined, more than even life itself, are becoming rare. I am forced to regard that as cowardice. When it comes to the motivation behind poor decision-making, few things are quite so effective as cowardice.

        • I love your post and I agree with all of it. But until you've raised your gun to prove yourself otherwise, you've called yourself a coward.

          Or maybe you're like me and even though you really care about something and would really like to do something about it, you're still happy to be standing on the side of the fence with the greenest grass with the best ice cream cone in your hand --- realizing that life elsewhere is much harder, that the majority of people on this planet live with less and often have diff

          • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

            by causality (777677) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:26AM (#27886087)

            I love your post and I agree with all of it. But until you've raised your gun to prove yourself otherwise, you've called yourself a coward.

            I appreciate the false dichotomy you're presenting here. To be specific, you're saying that my only choices are to either brandish a weapon or consider myself a coward. You leave no room for an understanding of how anything ever gets to the point where (hypothetically speaking) armed conflict would even be considered.

            Here I am again speaking hypothetically. If it ever actually came to violence, it would only be because a long series of failures occurred that prevented good people from standing up peacefully while standing up peacefully was still possible. There is much truth in that saying about evil thriving because good men do nothing; that is, they aren't good enough. It's a seldom-recognized fact that all of these huge problems like modern totalitarian states were once small problems that could have been dealt with relatively easily. It's not unlike an infection; it starts small and then, if left untreated, it festers and grows until it takes over the host. Identifying it before it gets too far along requires foresight.

            I don't mean this in a religious way at all, but what you're really dealing with is what religious people sometimes refer to as "powers and principalities." They are ideas that act through people because those people are compromised. They're not really themselves. They have an identity that is based on a nation, or a group, or an image, or a culture, and have forgotten that real strength is found within. The principle here is that compromised people demand compromised leaders. The condition is therefore systemic. No sane person with any awareness of the available options would ever want to live under a dictatorship. That idea has to be inflicted on them. For that reason, deception, trauma, and a form of seduction are the main methods by which it is realized.

            Deception is fairly easy to identify in politics. In fact, it's so common that most people just assume that politicians are liars and no one really cares anymore. Just think about this for a moment. If politicians never make their own decisions as individuals, but rather, cater to the interests of their financial supporters, then are those politicians really acting as human beings or has their humanity taken a backstage so that they can be a mouthpiece for various external interests? A real human being is no one's puppet. The ultimate expression of this mechanism is when you're made to feel like there is something wrong with you for pointing out how phony most people really are. The hardest part about this is that when most people adhere to a group identity, follow trends, or repeat carefully crafted soundbites intended for public consumption, they really believe that doing so is their own original idea. Did you know that a hypnotist can tell a subject up front that he is going to make that subject take off his left shoe, he can then implant the suggestion, and when the subject removes his left shoe he will make up an excuse for why he did so? It's a mindless and suggestible state that is anything other than your real identity.

            Trauma, on the other hand, is not so widely understood. The easiest example of that would be the rise of fear-based politics ever since the September 11th attacks. Heightened security and intrusive governmental powers were not sold on the basis of being good ideas; they were sold on the basis of a national enemy who is trying to get us. That's a far cry from open, rational debate and that's no accident. No excuse for the surrender of civil liberties would ever survive rational debate, particularly not for Americans who are actually familiar with the writings of the Founding Fathers. But if a trauma has been inflicted and fear is rampant, that sort of rationality is rendered mute. The ultimate expression of this mechanism was explained by Hegel and is known either as "thesi

        • I just think it's silly to believe that stiff penalties alone are going to prevent the intrusion attempts that anyone running any sort of server already accepts as inevitable.

          Well of course it's silly. Who do you think actually believes that? It's about as silly as saying you should focus exclusively on defensive systems and just letting the enemy attack you at their leisure while they build up their systems with no fear of counterattacks.

      • by Jurily (900488)

        They do have a point though - communications infrastructure is very important both for the economic wellbeing of the country, and to allow other branches of the military to coordinate and defend the country.

        And how do you plan to take down the internet? Its design criteria included the capability to survive WW3.

        • And yet it's still held together by gaffer tape.

          Just because something is designed to survive something, doesn't mean it will!
        • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mysidia (191772) on Friday May 08, 2009 @09:38PM (#27884443)

          Here, let me fix that for you:

          Its original design criteria included the capability to survive WW3.

          In principal the technology can, but politically it can't. That is, the internet technology can withstand such an event, but the communications networks in reality don't provide that level of resiliency, at least not globally.

          On the commercial internet, a lot of "redundancy" and "massive failover" options are gone, routing policy simply won't allow it.

          Nowadays, the internet is highly centralized and commercialized, everyone connects to the big TIER1 providers, and they demand hefty compensation for the privilege to use a relatively small number of high-capacity links.

          And if two of them fail critically, it's not like TIER1 provider C will step forward and provide everyone transit to isolated segments of provider 1. All the major providers require massive compensation for such services.

          Nowadays on the commercial internet, there are a few major backbones everyone really needs, and any 1 or 2 un-repairable link failures in the right place can cause major communication disruptions, with enormous congestion of smaller oversubscribed links, with possibly 3 or 4 simultaneous un-repairable failures, large "pieces of internet" can be completely isolated.

          And with 5 well-placed failures, the internet as we know it is gone for everyone, for however long it takes to fix damage or lay new wires...

      • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Informative)

        by Weedhopper (168515) on Friday May 08, 2009 @08:58PM (#27884201)

        The whole "illegal enemy combatant" thing is immoral regardless of whether the "attacks" are physical attacks or just attempts made to disrupt digital communications.

        No, it's very much moral and necessity. The application of it by the previous administration, however, is outright criminal.

        The Laws of Armed Conflict and the Geneva Conventions that provides the clause for "illegal enemy combatants" as a classification to exist, exist for a reason. It's to prevent war from descending to absolute fucking barbarism. War is ugly and brutal enough as it is when everyone follows the rules.

        You have no idea how inhuman the actors who play outside of those rules can be unless you've seen it for yourself. The terrible things that criminal things soldiers have done pale in comparison to the gutwrenchingly and heartbreakingly deplorable acts that armed people will do in the absence of good order and discipline.

        That we're using illegal combatant status as a loophole legal justification for torture IS immoral, but the rules were there to try to force everyone to behave with some semblance of human civility, no matter how small.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The Laws of Armed Conflict and the Geneva Conventions that provides the clause for "illegal enemy combatants"

          [citation needed]

          As far as I know, the Geneva Conventions do not say anything at all about "illegal enemy combatants". That is a term made up by the Bush administration in their claim that the Geneva Conventions do not apply.

          The slightest thought about the phrase shows it to be meaningless.

          enemy

          1. a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.

          2. an armed foe

          combatant

          1. a nation engaged in active fighting with enemy forces.

          2. a person or group that fights

          illegal

          1. forbidden by law or statute.

          2. contrary to or forbidden by official rules

          How can a person or nation actively fighting against you in war be acting illegally simply by the act of fighting against you? Fighting against you is what war is all about. Is the war itself illegal? If so, why did you s

      • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:16PM (#27885001) Homepage Journal
        It sounds good in theory, but like the parent, I also look at our country's history of using good judgment in situations like this, and worry.

        I suspect that this law is mostly a diplomatic message being sent to China, to let them know we mean business if they use extra-military actors to engage in cyberwarfare. There have been a number of announcements from the pentagon that Chinese hackers have been actively poking at the military systems.

        This is the polite heads up to their intelligence service to let them know that we are going to hold their China responsible for the activities of their nationalistic and zealous hackers and if they don't ease up, the counter stroke will be to park a cruse missile in the block of apartments that they are operating out of.

        It sounds heavy handed, but States don't fuck around with playing games in courts when they view other states as being hostile. So if it seems like a pretty drastic measure, it is because it was likely a response crafted to deal with another state on the levels that states operate. It's possible that another Kevin Mitnik type could get dragged off to federal prison using this, but that would probably be some local prosecutor trying to show how 'tough' they were on cybercrime.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      No, those rules are just for THE OTHER guys, not us 'mericans!

      (We have domestic law enforcement spying on us)
    • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:53PM (#27883765)

      I thought the whole point of "enemy combatants" was to get around the whole human rights for POW and prisoners. Hence why when the japs waterboarded POWs it was a terrible thing to do (even if they were trying to prevent an attack on civilians involving a WMD), but when the US waterboraded "enemy combatants" it was just enhanced interrogation.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Buelldozer (713671)

        Maybe educate yourself?

        The Japanese version of waterboarding and the CIA version of waterboarding are significantly different.

        http://wizbangblog.com/content/2009/04/27/regarding-those-claims-about-wwii-waterboarding.php [wizbangblog.com]

        • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

          by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:22AM (#27886875)

          In some of the other Japanese cases, the "water torture" included strapping people to ladders and dunking them face down into swimming pools until they passed out. This is not the same as waterboarding.

          To any normal person typing somebody to a board and making them feel like their drowning is the same thing. Being very specific and defining whats bad as exactly what the Japanese did, and whats ok as exactly what the CIA do, is IMO rather pathetic.

      • by Jeian (409916)

        We had this discussion recently on another forum I visit. Waterboarding was standard practice by the Japanese on all POWs to fish for information. In the more recent US cases, it's only been used on specific prisoners (such as KSM) who were believed to have knowledge of imminent attacks against civilian targets.

    • I think you meant to say "... who ignorantly commits crimes and thinks he should not be responsible for his actions."

      Know what you are doing or don't do it.

    • by Minwee (522556)
      Not quite, but it does mean that an American kiddie who defaced cnn.com would be guilty of High Treason.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Zordak (123132)

      any american geek who prods too deeply will be branded an enemy combatant.

      If he's an American geek (as in citizen of the U.S.), there's no "branding" him an enemy combatant. He is a citizen entitled to due process. He would be tried in a federal district court. Unless he's also caught in the hills of Afghanistan carrying a weapon with a Taliban squad, in which case there are those who would treat him as an enemy combatant. But I don't think that's your average geek.

    • by jav1231 (539129)
      Not really. The current administration doesn't view such individuals as anything more than criminals. Currently, even terrorism is being viewed as less an act of war and more a crime. So for the next four years "enemy combatant" means very little.
    • by Jeian (409916)
      IANAL, but it seems to me that if they're a US citizen and get into a government system under orders (real or alleged) from a foreign government, they'd be put on trial for treason/espionage.

      In order to be an enemy combatant, you have to be a member of the armed forces of another country.
  • Oil Barons (Score:3, Funny)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:21PM (#27883509)

    This completely explains [wikipedia.org] what happened to my Commodore 64 cluster...

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:28PM (#27883557) Homepage

    ...if only I get to personally witness the death by execution of the people who write malware, run botnets and spam the hell out of the planet.

    Those those trade freedom for security deserve neither. But I would gladly trade some freedom for some revenge against the bastards that really bring hell to the masses.

    • by Forbman (794277)

      You sure have a strange definition of hell. Maybe stop using IE, HotMail/Yahoo mail, etc.?

      I'll keep my comfortable air-conditioned, running water & effective sewage treatment, food distribution, job, etc., even if I have to deal with the occaisional spam e-mail (hey, GMail is pretty effective at filtering out that crap) intruding into my personal life when I can choose to use my computer, or not, and still have an enjoyable life, versus living in some intolerant Taliban-controlled backhole, a refugee ca

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by erroneus (253617)

        Card-carrying Linux user here. I am not vulnerable. It's the "environment" that has become a trashed-out hell. Every machine from government, business of all sizes to your next door neighbor's are the ones being exploited. To put it another way, you can keep your house painted and your lawn delicately landscaped all you want, but that won't save your property value when you've got gang members, white trash, an over-populated house of hispanics and a black woman with 6 kids from 8 different child-support

        • with 6 kids from 8 different child-support paying fathers

          That's a neat trick. I also believe it's possible to do in several states...

          • by erroneus (253617)

            Oh yes... seen it. In Pennsylvania, you can be married to a woman and be completely, medically sterile and you will be responsible for child support if your wife cheats on you and gets pregnant before the divorce is complete. And on top of that, she could move to another state and charge the biological father with paternity and collect from him as well. That's a 2-for-1 and it is completely legal.

            I love that I was modded down as flamebait by pointing out truth in its extremes. "Bad neighbors" bring down

    • by Whatsisname (891214) on Friday May 08, 2009 @08:27PM (#27883975) Homepage

      Right, because goverments of the 20th century killing 200 million people isn't what really brings hell to the masses! My email inbox being flooded with V1AGR4 is so much greater a crime against society!

      • by erroneus (253617)

        The two things you stated are completely unrelated. You may as well have brought up kids with cancer as being worse than spam. NOT RELATED. Mass murder is bayud m'kay? But completely irrelevant. Want to make a point? Keep it relevant.

  • by eatvegetables (914186) on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:28PM (#27883559)

    "Incidentally, it also means we consider non-state cyber-attackers to be illegal enemy combatants, which means we can do all kinds of nasty stuff to them."

    the hacker thinks to himself ...hmmmm, if I hack the military, they might

    1. stick me in a cold, dark, room.

    2. feed me old, stale food.

    3. keep me away from friends, family, and girls.

    4. keep me awake all night.

    ...(pause), ALRIGHT! Woohooo!. I wonder if I get to play WoW too!/p?

    • by markana (152984)

      So, they give you a job as a Sysadmin????

      (and the high-value prisoners they make Windows admins???)

    • by Plekto (1018050)


        the hacker thinks to himself ...hmmmm, if I hack the military, they might

      1. stick me in a cold, dark, room.

      2. feed me old, stale food.

      3. keep me away from friends, family, and girls.

      4. keep me awake all night.

      5. do a low level reformat on them from orbit.

      That said, I personally think it's long overdue that we started treating these botnets and hacking rings as criminal organizations.

      • by djcapelis (587616)

        > That said, I personally think it's long overdue
        > that we started treating these botnets and
        > hacking rings as criminal organizations.

        I agree. However this policy treats them as foreign military which is much different.

        Very few hacking incidents these days (not that we have terribly good data on this) are military operations. Criminal ones are likely to be far more common. It is important to preserve the distinction and hopefully there will be some effort to do so.

    • ...(pause), ALRIGHT! Woohooo!. I wonder if I get to play WoW too!/p?

      No, it's not on the list. I'm afraid you can only choose one of these:

      List Games

      FALKEN'S MAZE GUERRILLA ENGAGEMENT
      BLACK JACK DESERT WAREFARE
      GIN RUMMY AIR-TO-GROUND ACTIONS
      HEARTS THEATREWIDE TACTICAL
      BRIDGE WAREFARE
      CHECKERS THEATRE
    • by catmistake (814204) on Friday May 08, 2009 @08:35PM (#27884045) Journal

      if the hacker has any sense, he'll hack the U.S. Constitution and restore the backups of Habeas corpus

      • This would actually be a cool hack. You'd have to pwn Lexis and Westlaw, and print up some bogus law books (numbered reporters of legal decisions such as Federal Reporter 3d and United States Reports) and plant them in all the law libraries and courthouses (just mail them out in official-looking West Publishing cardboard boxes). Presto, habeas corpus is back. Your legal brief in your next case would read something like this: "We hereby overrule our previous precedent in Jones v. Fatootie denying habeas

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:31PM (#27883587)

    the US won't rule out conventional (read: kinetic) responses to cyber-attacks.

    So, with geolocation services, we could finally make all the jokes about ICBM addresses [catb.org] come true?

    Incidentally, it also means we consider non-state cyber-attackers to be illegal enemy combatants, which means we can do all kinds of nasty stuff to them."

    First they tortured the terrorists,
    And I felt kinda iffy about that,
    Even though it worked on TV.

    They they tortured Iraqi civilians,
    And I felt pretty embarassed,
    Even though I was safe at home in America.

    Then they tortured people they thought were suspicious,
    And I started to get scared,
    Even though I didn't hang out with anybody like that.

    Then they started torturing the spammers, the botnet herders, and the malware authors,
    And I'm sorry, Professor Niemoller,
    But that makes up for everything!

  • Hey! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alex Belits (437) * on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:45PM (#27883695) Homepage

    Isn't "illegal enemy combatant" a new term invented by Bush administration to describe people they sent to Guantanamo prison in violation of Geneva Convention and pretty much all other laws or treaties relevant to those people?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bkpark (1253468)

      Isn't "illegal enemy combatant" a new term invented by Bush administration to describe people they sent to Guantanamo prison in violation of Geneva Convention and pretty much all other laws or treaties relevant to those people?

      Bush administration may have invented the term, but you can't really blame them. After all, you have to call them something. They are not uniformed soldiers. They don't even have any affiliation with any sovereign nations as far as their actions go, and if the allegations about what any of these detainees did or planned to do turned out to be true, they sure weren't "innocent civilians".

      So, Bush administration can call them either "illegal enemy combatant", or "terrorists", or if they really wanted to, even

      • Bush administration may have invented the term, but you can't really blame them.

        Are you nuts? That's what blame is. You find who started the craze, and you point a finger at them so that everybody knows.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by bkpark (1253468)

          To clarify what I mean, Bush administration invented term because they had to.

          They had to call these guys something, and they had to do something about these guys. Perhaps some of the things Bush administration did weren't the best they could have done in the hindsight, but then, no one claimed they were perfect.

          To set the record straight, no American started "the craze". Some 19 terrorists did. What we did was by no means unprovoked—and, for some time, the world agreed with us.

          • I don't think that trying to rehabilitate the Bush administration is a good idea. They were trying to have their cake and eat it, too.

            Logically, if those weren't state actors, then there was no reason to blow up two countries in retaliation. But if those were state actors, then the Geneva conventions should apply and torturing prisoners is a no-no.

    • by Opyros (1153335)
      Not entirely. It's essentially a synonym for "unlawful combatant", a term for persons engaged in hostile activities without having the legal right to do so; see the Wikipedia article. [wikipedia.org] (Neither term is used in either the Geneva or Hague conventions, though.)
  • Beware... (Score:5, Funny)

    by warlock (14079) on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:45PM (#27883697) Homepage

    Launching an ICMP attack might get an ICBM response...

    Time to update the RFCs.

  • by NimbleSquirrel (587564) on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:54PM (#27883767)

    Those in charge of US CyberCommand have stated for a long time now they want the ability to a physical attack in response to a cyber attack.

    They state that they want the Law of Armed Conflict to apply. This would also mean that the Rules of Engagement would apply as well. Generally, the Rules of Engagement state that they are only allowed to use deadly force if there is an imminent threat of death or injury. That means they won't be dropping bombs on hackers' houses anytime soon. But then the US military does have a record or "shoot first, ask questions later".

    What they want is for a cyber attack ot be deemed an act of War. This is hardly going to stop attacks from China (where a large proportion of the attacks currently originate). Needless to say that sending a cruise missile into mainland China to take out a hacker's house would be a very bad move for the US in the current climate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chmcginn (201645)

      Needless to say that sending a cruise missile into mainland China to take out a hacker's house would be a very bad move for the US in the current climate.

      Well, unless you thought the Fallout games were a training simulator.

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      I guess you've never been to combat. The "ROE" states no such thing. If you find the enemy, you kill them. An enemy soldier can be eating lunch, he's still fair game.

      In a war, the necessary designation is PID or positive identification. A soldier has PID if he sees someone who is 1: committing a hostile act or 2: exhibits hostile intent. The guy watching your convoy with binoculars is not a direct threat, but he has proven thru action to be the enemy. Road-side digging without approval can be designated by

    • But then the US military does have a record or "shoot first, ask questions later".

      Yet we haven't nuked a city since WWII...

  • it also means we consider non-state cyber-attackers to be illegal enemy combatants

    Categorizing all those in Gitmo "illegal enemy combatants" has really worked out well for us.

  • by fluffy99 (870997) on Friday May 08, 2009 @08:52PM (#27884167)

    I think it's a perfectly good answer. You don't want to tell China that a physical response is off the table, otherwise they'll get the idea that they can contine their cyber attacks without any danger of real consequences. So long as the response is in proportion to the offense, then there is no issue.

    Remember if we can't consider it an act of war, then a physical response means we just started the war.

    What happens if for example, they escalate from simple intrusions and information theft to destructive acts like dropping power grids or destroying systems. If it involves significant loss of life or property? Do we simply ignore it and pretend they haven't just committed an act of war? Do we cyber-hack them back? We'd probably target the building full of PLA that are actively hacking us with something stronger than an internet feed (and yes, we already know who they are and where they are operating out of).

    • by smoker2 (750216)
      How about you don't put those things on the internet in the fucking first place !

      There is a saying - if you owe the bank 4000 and can't pay, you are in trouble, if you owe the bank 40,000,000 and can't pay, then the bank is in trouble.

      It strikes me that if anybody can take your critical systems offline using the internet then you have bigger issues than the internet. The first question when tracing any intrusion is, how did they get in ? Well, the system is connected to the internet, is not a good answer.
      • by Xtravar (725372)

        So quick to judge.

        A "cyber attack" doesn't necessarily mean "internet attack". They could very well send a spy to do the "cyber damage" on an internal network.

        • by fluffy99 (870997)
          Yes, the insider threat is certainly part of the problem. I do agree that the DOD has too much of its network internet connected. A certain level of connectivity is needed for a number of functions though such as administrative, email, communicating with external contractors, etc. I believe as we move forward, you will see greater isolation. The NMCI network is a big improvement in many security aspects, but absolute homogeneity of the network is a huge risk as well.
  • Who'd a thought that the Homebrewers would create something that people who like to kill would like to kill for!

    World's a crazy place.

  • Probably a good amount of "misbehaving" black hats/botnet owners/spammers live within US. Long before even thinking going hostile over another country some house cleaning should be in order.

    In the other hand, could this give a future government the perfect excuse to attack whatever country they want?
    - Infiltrate agent (in the case is needed a physical person for that, a hacked pc would do the work too)
    - Make him hack something thru internet
    - ???
    - INVADE!
  • About time... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AnAdventurer (1548515)
    I am glad there are some better defined rules for engaging the enemy on this field. Once we can ID the "hackers" and whether they are state sponsored or not we can take an action like sending a cruse missile to their little hacker training camp. Don't know if I am joking? Don't worry your not alone.
  • These simple words - and so it begins.

    (Yeah, yeah, Tolkien, yadda, yadda - it's my post.)

  • so the Law of Armed Conflict applies - great. Who are you retaliating against? The IP that attacked you? o rly? I submit that the US Armed Forces cannot even reliably identify the ultimate source of a network attack, much less the identity, motivation or affiliation of an attacker (all of which are necessary in order to provide justification for a measured physical response).

    It's going to take another couple of generations before we end up with people commanding the armed forces who grew up on the Internet

    • by fluffy99 (870997)

      Well, most terrorist organizations are happy to stand up and announce they did it. If we are in the middle of open hostilities with a nation state, they would certainly be the first suspect but you couldn't rule out a third party trying to provoke the situation.

      You would be surprised at the amount of IDS and monitoring going on at the DOD connection points to the general internet. They can produce packet captures months after the fact. Granted that only gives them the first hop, and no way to tell if that

  • Just Suppose (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Friday May 08, 2009 @09:53PM (#27884525) Homepage Journal
    Just suppose that foreign crackers penetrated the air traffic control [slashdot.org] system or the power grid [slashdot.org] and either caused massive casualties due to lack of air traffic control or they turned off the lights to major portions of the country also causing significant casualties and economic losses. Further, let's suppose that we are able to identify the source of the attack. It sounds like the majority of the posters so far think we ought to call up their ISP and ask that their account be terminated.

    I think a cruise missile would be more appropriate or maybe a few precision guided weapons applied as needed. The source of such an attack is a legitimate target and sending a message that such targets well be dealt with in a manner proportionate to the damage they inflict makes a lot of sense to me. If the attack is state sponsored, retaliation that is far out of proportion is called for since the attack constitutes an act of war.

    Cheers,
    Dave
    • Wait until they find out that was a Starbucks I was cracking from !

    • by Plekto (1018050)

      Just suppose that foreign crackers penetrated the air traffic control system or the power grid and either caused massive casualties due to lack of air traffic control or they turned off the lights to major portions of the country also causing significant casualties and economic losses. Further, let's suppose that we are able to identify the source of the attack. It sounds like the majority of the posters so far think we ought to call up their ISP and ask that their account be terminated.

      I think the real re

      • Yes. Especially considering the posibility your scenario raises of another nation taking control of a botnet and launching an attack against a government just to elicit a "kinetic" response. Start a war... in under 10 clicks!
  • I dare/challenge them to actually 'pull this off'....while laughing!!!

  • Well, hey! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:38PM (#27885141)
    I would not rule out a "kinetic" response if someone messed with my computer, either! Where's the surprise?
  • Maybe it's the idealism talking, but I've always thought these laws/rules were a joke. War is genocide, plain and simple. If someone is looking to destroy me and everyone that looks, talks and walks like me, there is no piece of paper in the world that will protect them from my wrath. Fuck the Geneva Convention, fuck the rules of engagement - wearing a uniform, waving a flag and following arbitrary rules doesn't automagically pardon mass murder. This ain't fucking Parcheesi!

    We already have laws to defin

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