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Military Asserts Right To Respond To Cyberattacks 177

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "AP reports that National Security Agency director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander says the US should counter computer-based attacks swiftly and strongly and act to thwart or disable a threat even when the attacker's identity is unknown. 'Even with the clear understanding that we could experience damage to our infrastructure, we must be prepared to fight through in the worst case scenario,' wrote Alexander in a 32-page Senate questionnaire he answered in preparation for a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to head Cyber Command. Alexander offered a limited but rare description of offensive US cyber activities, saying the US has 'responded to threats, intrusions and even attacks against us in cyberspace,' and has conducted exercises and war games, adding that it is unclear whether or not those actions have deterred criminals, terrorists or nations."
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Military Asserts Right To Respond To Cyberattacks

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  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:53PM (#31852326)

    Let them respond to cyber attacks today and tomorrow they'll be asking if they can defend against physical attacks. I don't think we can afford to go down this road.

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by joocemann (1273720)

      Let them respond to cyber attacks today and tomorrow they'll be asking if they can defend against physical attacks. I don't think we can afford to go down this road.

      So your answer is apathy? Attacks range from network disruption, altering important information, and espionage of business and government information.

      Being apathetic of such a serious issue is completely ridiculous and I don't think many people realize the severity of these attacks. This isn't a geocities page getting shut down here.

      Furthermore, what do these attacks symbolize? Are they the actions of a country whose face smiles at us and hands shake with us? Are we to maintain the facade of cooperation

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Capsaicin (412918)

        Yes, its dangerous to protect yourself and your property. But if you don't, you'll get chewed up anyway.

        So let me get this right. You are in all seriousness proposing the the Army responds to physical attacks against the country?! Wow, just wow!

      • by Artifakt (700173)

        I really dislike apathy in the face of aggression.

        Oh, but one Republican Representitive (Michelle Bachmann) evidently thinks an appropriate response to a cyber-attack is to NUKE somebody. Crank up the Dial-A-Yield, make their cities glow, let's make Leetspeak a language only spoken in Hell.

        What the hell, apathy doesn't sound so bad, if it just keeps someone like her from starting Armageddon over some 14 year old script kiddee trying to deface Apple's website. In fact, apathy is starting to sound pretty prom

        • I disagree with nukes... Response in kind. If the damage is virtual, use virtual. If response in virtual fails, attempt to discern an equivalent physical response and carry it out. Or at least do tactical strikes on the various loci the attackers are trained in.

          These are not 14 year old script kiddies... these are organized attacks by governments. Don't downplay what is going on; or likely in your case to talk about something without actually even knowing what is going on.

      • by hesiod (111176)

        -1, Wooooooosh!!!!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:57PM (#31853298)

      Sir! The attacks are coming from 127.0.0.1! Permission to engage?

  • Tell me again... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:53PM (#31852328)

    Why are essential systems connected to the internet?

    • Depends on your definition of essential. No, most if not all top secret stuff isn't going to be online no matter what, but for anything less critical, there's a risk/reward factor. If you use "enough" security (firewalls and multiple layers of progressively more restricted systems, good encryption and signing, etc.), the benefits derived from being able to share information quickly and easily can outweigh the risks involved. DARPA helped design the internet for a reason; we needed a communications system wi
    • by Capsaicin (412918) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:10PM (#31852482)

      Why are essential systems connected to the internet?

      Yeah, who let the military on the internet in the first place?!

      • by Greyfox (87712)
        Because most IT people are more or less incompetent, and the ones on the good side of the bell curve can get jobs that pay a lot more than the military, with a lot less chance of having to set up systems somewhere where someone might be shooting at you. And about the only company willing to deal with all the regulations and bullshit that comes along with government contracting thinks that Citrix and Windows on essential systems is a good idea. See point 1.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      Too bad we don't have enough attacks to coerce an immune response, as we do with viruses and malware.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      To provide a reason to develop harsh cybersecurity laws to fight intellectual property theft and free speech.

    • There is more than one way to be 'connected' to the internet.

      Think of it like this, you have your own secret 3 letter agency, one of your collection systems is sucking up data from a point somewhere within a communications path. It's a completely passive system, no way to detect it, it's running on a bunch of Sun blades, all it does is demodulate the signal, copy the data stream, break out the packets, then filter the result so it looks all pretty and point and click for the PHB's. These PHB's see something

    • Ummm, youporn? I'm in full support of the US cyber-counterattacks!!
  • So what's new? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Military flexes muscle, says they will respond with force, what's new?
    • Nothing at all. They'll trace the source to some building, blow it up, and discover bodies of women and children and men (who will be reported as insurgents or whatever).

      Only difference is that the people responsible for the attacks don't even have to be in the same building, city, or continent so it'll just be some family with a compromised computer.

      • If someone is shooting at you from a second story window, do you figure out who owns the house first, or do you shoot back?
        • That question is only valid when the house's location can be spoofed. A better analogy is if the feds get a report that a sniper is shooting out of a window at an officer at a certain address. Would the best response be an air-strike, a SWAT team, or a single patrol car to investigate first before calling in back-up?
        • Depends on the balance of power. Is he using a slingshot or a stinger missile? Am I sitting behind a 120mm cannon in a tank or am I on patrol with an assult rifle? Is there any cover available where I can assess the situation before calling in an airstrike and leveling the block?
        • I say you have bigger problems than dodging potshots if you bungled up your security so fucking bad that any house is a potential sniping point.

    • by khchung (462899)

      Military flexes muscle, says they will respond with force, what's new?

      Don't you know that when you add "cyber" or "on the Internet" to existing ideas, it automatically becomes novel and non-obvious?

    • Re:So what's new? (Score:5, Informative)

      by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:12PM (#31853014)

      Military flexes muscle, says they will respond with force, what's new?

      Actually, what he said is that he'd respond to attacks in cyberspace by counterattacking in cyberspace. No suggestion at all that we'd respond to cyber attacks with bombs/missiles/guns....

      • I'm not sure how that is meant to be correcting me. Force != Physical force.
        • Maybe he would have preferred you'd said:

          Military flexes level 80 hunter muscle, says they will respond with force, what's new?

          You know, to make it more cyber.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Did you read the new national nuclear defense policy that made the news last week?

        It was controversial for reducing our posture in some scenarios, which probably distracted most peopel, but through the noise I noticed that it specifically authorized the use of nukes to counter a cyberattack.

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:57PM (#31852366)

    ... will we realize that we should maybe consider possibly not putting nearly all of our business there?

    I realize we need china to support American materialism/consumerism. A cultural revolution could change that, though. I would much rather buy less, but of higher quality, as produced by my fellow citizens -- keeping the dollars in our own country and filling the bank accounts of people who otherwise wouldn't have had a job and would want my dollars anyway.

    Something to think about... When you buy American, you reinvest in your fellow citizens. I'm not a champion of nationalism, but we are far from world unity and the last thing our country needs is to keep sending our dollars elsewhere.

    When the one-world utopia happens, I'm all for it.

    • by GrumblyStuff (870046) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:06PM (#31852450)

      ... will we realize that we should maybe consider possibly not putting nearly all of our business there?

      Well, yeah, but it's more of a question if it'll hold our attention long enou- ooh, Entertainment Tonight is on!

    • That's how it used to be in America, back when our factories were thriving. Americans had the choice, and they chose cheaper, crappier mass-produced goods from China over higher-quality but more expensive goods produced in our own country.
      • That's how it used to be in America, back when our factories were thriving. Americans had the choice, and they chose cheaper, crappier mass-produced goods from China over higher-quality but more expensive goods produced in our own country.

        I wouldn't mind this. I would, of course, still buy goods manufactured in countries I consider our allies, such as the UK. Sadly, due to an apathetic and ignorant society, a Congress driven by campaign contributions, and short-sighted corporations, we are now somewhat dependent on China and other unfriendly nations.

        • You would choose the more expensive option, but sadly not enough of your fellow citizens would join you to make it profitable enough for the manufacturers. Hence the current situation. Look at airlines for a similar problem.

          Don't blame the government for all you problems.

          • Don't blame the government for all you problems.

            Um, what?

            due to an apathetic and ignorant society, a Congress driven by campaign contributions, and short-sighted corporations

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Buying cheap was the only way a lot of people could have all the things they were told they needed by the marketing industry.
      • We chose? When?

        Twenty years ago WalMart was full of American Made goods. It was even part of their advertising. It was the businessmen in search of the almighty profit dollar that moved the manufacturing overseas who left us NO choice.

        • by CRCulver (715279)
          A lot of those clothes labelled "Made in USA" were being produced in Saipan by exploited workers who didn't even get federal minimum wage. Even when "Made in USA" was seen more often, that doesn't mean it was good for the American people.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      "I would much rather buy less, but of higher quality, as produced by my fellow citizens "

      You DO realize the above is an unAmerican mindset, don't you ?

      Now get back in line and buy everything, whether you need it or not !!!

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      I would much rather buy less, but of higher quality, as produced by my fellow citizens -- keeping the dollars in our own country and filling the bank accounts of people who otherwise wouldn't have had a job and would want my dollars anyway.

      Don't worry, you'll be buying less from China, because China feels exactly the same way.
      In the long term, China doesn't particularly want to continue being so export heavy.
      Their goal is to convert much of that export business into domestic consumption.

      But don't think that means Americans will start buying more from the USA.
      Production has been and is still moving to South America, mainly Mexico.

      Be careful what you wish for.

      • Why would I need to 'be careful' what I wish for. What, pray tell, do you fear of the reduction of imported cheap crap from china? Did you not acknowledge the value of keeping the dollars in country?

        I have been careful. Materialism and chinese imports in general make me sick and embarrassed of my peers.

        You say 'be careful' as if you fear such a change. Are you satisfied with this way of being? If so, I don't have anything else to talk to you about as I've already stated I'm embarrassed by people like t

        • by CRCulver (715279)
          The OP may be referring to the fact that, one China is no longer dependent on the US as an importer of its goods, it may call the US's tab and collapse the US economy in an instant. Surely you haven't missed the fact that China bought up much of America's debt.
    • I realize we need china to support American materialism/consumerism.

        No, we don't.

        The desire of much of the population for ever-cheaper crap to buy at Walmart on their credit cards, and the greed of national corporate distributors keeps that particular piece of bullshit alive. There is no rational reason why we couldn't produce everything we need within our own borders.

      SB

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        Minimum wage and worker safety laws alone would make many goods exponentially higher were they produced in the US. You'd also have to stop workers from unionizing, because that would also make prices somewhat higher, so quality of life for workers wouldn't be terribly high either.

        • Minimum wage and worker safety laws alone would make many goods exponentially higher were they produced in the US. You'd also have to stop workers from unionizing, because that would also make prices somewhat higher, so quality of life for workers wouldn't be terribly high either.

          I'm all for it. I yearn for what you speak of. Those dollars go to my fellow citizens! Those people will have jobs and purpose and will not require tax dollars in social programs now.

          We could all use a few less things. Our focus on materials has distracted us from that which has much higher value: human interaction. Try it.

          • by CRCulver (715279)

            I'm all for it. I yearn for what you speak of.

            You might yearn for it, but you're just one person and statistically negligible. No major American company is going to base their business plan on you and decide to keep everything local.

            Those people will have jobs and purpose and will not require tax dollars in social programs now.

            Even highly protectionist countries have had strong social spending. Having a manufacturing base at home doesn't magically eradicate poverty. Socialism as a phenomenon arose in the

            • Social protections are wonderful, and rightly so. The majority was being abused and exploited, but the majority *is* the country, and so they are making the system fairer.

              That is all beside the point, which is that it would be beneficial for us as a whole to invest more in ourselves than to shuttle dollars off to China buying cheap goods and increasing corporate profits. Yeah, no major American corporation would want to do that because to afford to pay americans they would have to drop some profit margins

        • Exponentially? I doubt that. The use of that term smacks of corporate propaganda.

          Corporate abuse of employees by corporations is a time honored custom here with much tradition behind it ;-\

          Make workplaces safer? Perhaps that burden should fall on the manufacturers rather than the consumers. But you are right, in one sense - the rich will always pass the extra costs on to the poor, including and especially the poor bastards who work for them.

          So where in the long run does that

          • by CRCulver (715279)

            Exponentially? I doubt that. The use of that term smacks of corporate propaganda.

            It's not unusual for a good made in the West to cost, say, $10 when its Chinese-made equivalent costs less than $1. The most recent example I noticed were handmade tobacco pipes, which can be had wholesale from China nowadays for less than $5, while US or European-made pipes sell for $40 or more.

            • The term "corporate propaganda" includes advertising and the associated markups ;)

              I don't know for sure, but I suspect you are too young to remember when the majority of basic goods went from being locally manufactured to imported (1970s to now, pretty much, it "evolved"). You might want to go and look at the balance of trade numbers from those decades, they are rather enlightening.

              I have to go do some "local servicework" early tomorrow, so have to crash. I'll try and get back to th

      • It costs more to pay americans to do the job, thus the price must go up. Thus the materials are bought in lower quantity.. consumed less.
        Think about the wages, overhead, etc, of producing in country. I'm happy with it and would gladly buy 1/3 the crap for the same cost so long as it was made by my fellow citizens and I could personally drive to the company to say "hey, this is broken" if they wont' honor the warranty.

        • I wasn't saying I wouldn't pay higher prices for goods, personally. I was saying that the populace's demand for cheaper goods - which is driven by competition amongst companies outsourcing our production AND their advertising - is producing the problem.

          There isn't a person in this country who can say that they buy entirely US produced goods nowadays. When I was growing up, that wasn't the case, although it was getting much harder to.

          From a personal standpoint it has led to me buying

    • by vxice (1690200)
      actually protectionism in general is a horrible idea. the idea is that if the Chinese can produce shirts cheaper than us they should do that while we perform the tasks we are best at. important point is that 'cheap' refers to what we can't produce while making shirts. Since Americans can produce much more in terms of designing machines that can make shirts for us with little human help ie the Chinese then we should work on that and one person working in china does not mean that is a lost job here that pe
      • It would take protectionist policy to enforce this theoretical balance. What say you now?

        Aside from that, and I know we disagree here, I would *gladly* pay more for the same product if it were made by my fellow citizens. As I said before, without them earning it that way, they will take it through social programs (for which I am very happy to support). By keeping the dollars within, we inherently produce more jobs for those without college educations (widespread) and those who got educations but chose pa

        • by CRCulver (715279)

          Please, your visions of ever more Americans sitting on their butts and drawing a government check to do nothing have nothing to do with the reality. Social benefits in the US are negligible compared to most other developed nations and don't amount to a real income for the vast majority of recipients. Lose your job in the US, and you're more likely to desperately scramble to find work than rest on your laurels. Many of my relatives live in a depressed area of Appalachia and face a dearth of employment, but t

          • You've totally gone off the point, and you've also completely ignored what all is encompassed in social welfare programs. Personally, I would like to expand ours. But that is all aside the point that spending in our own country provides more jobs and wealth *here*.

    • by ndogg (158021)

      When the one-world utopia happens, I'm all for it.

      Know what is the best hope for the "one-world utopia" is? It's economic interdependence.

      If I like the widgets you make, and buy them frequently, I'm less likely to hold a grudge against you if you do something stupid, and you probably don't want to bite the had that feeds you, so to speak.

  • by PNutts (199112) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:12PM (#31852508)

    I'm concerned that Reader and Flash will facilitate making my PC part of that attack on the government. And if Joshua taught me anything it was to instead play a nice game of chess. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086567/ [imdb.com]

  • by headkase (533448) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:19PM (#31852568)
    There is an article related to this on TechDirt: Here [techdirt.com]. Basically everything from vandalism to espionage is being lumped under "Cyberwar." With vandalism being much the more prevalent. The issue of "Cyberwar" itself is mostly made for good talking points in the media, after all anything that drives readership drives advertisers and funding. Think you can actually get at a GPS satellites operating system over the internet?
  • ...but *why* are you USAers, as a people, worth saving?

    Oh, you mean *cyber* attack. Duh.

    • With a sig like yours, I think the question applies more to yourself. As they say, when you point your finger at someone, you've got 3 other fingers pointing back at you.
      • As they say, when you point your finger at someone, you've got 3 other fingers pointing back at you

        Actually, in an archetypal "index pointing" gesture, it looks more like my non-index fingers are pointing (through my palm) somewhere off to my right...maybe around 4:00.

        • You have a point. But it really does depend on the way the pointing gesture is most commonly used and also (importantly) what constitutes "you". For, if you were to conclude that your hand indeed was part of the form "you" then the saying would still be valid as three fingers are still pointing directly into the palm of your hand.

          Even if it was widely accepted that your extremities were not part of the constitution of "you", there is still a large argument to be made for what constitutes accurate pointin
    •   Like Adama, many of us American citizens ask ourselves the same question more and more lately... I suspect that Moore and Eick put that speech into the script of BSG for exactly that reason.

      SB

  • by shoppa (464619) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:25PM (#31852638)

    Perhaps the most wise thing Richard Nixon ever said:

    President Richard Nixon reflected this outlook when he decided in 1969 to abandon the U.S. offensive germ warfare program. "We'll never use the damn germs, so what good is biological warfare as a deterrent?" Nixon told his speechwriter William Safire. "If somebody uses germs on us, we'll nuke 'em."

    • We could eliminate the entire US military if we just had the balls to nuke anybody who said no.

      It's genius right, right, guys?

      • by barzok (26681)

        And who operates/maintains the facilities & platforms required to deliver the nukes? The Boy Scouts?

    • Nixon really was a brilliant guy. Too bad arrogance almost always comes along with genius.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The government should do "something" to ensure cyber intrusions are "dealt with" but why does the military have to have anything to do with that?

    Give the job to a new separate federal body, preferably with a lot more transparency and accountability than the military

  • Hm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Comatose51 (687974) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:40PM (#31852746) Homepage
    This kind of attack can happen really fast, too fast for a human to respond to. Perhaps a machine would respond. While we're at it, why limit ourselves to fighting them in cyberspace? Let's take out their physical infrastructure. We don't want to put human soldiers in the way so let's use robots and drones. We'll need to control it all with good sight lines. Let's control them from the sky with a network.
  • The U.S. Military has extremely expensive equipment. How hard would it be to isolate their infrastructure on something not available on the World Wide Web? They Have SATELLITE NETWORKS! Put the public stuff on the world wide web, and keep the MILITARY INTRANET cord free from the web!

    • by wiredog (43288)

      Since when does "networked"=="internet" and != "any other type of network"?

      The phone system is a network. Consider how much vital infrastructure is connected to that.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      You mean like SIPRnet or JWICS?

  • If the US responds to your pathetic probes with a letter to your isp?
    What if they waste your wintel box, liquidate your Linux or molest your Mac?
    Was it like a digital drone or did they send a digital version of main battle tank after you?
    Imagine the credibility jump when you log and survive a US counter attack.
    The joy of telling digital freedom fighters around the world of how to absorb, stop and roll back US cyber Blitzkrieg.
    The rush as the first time you push past the Wintel 'honeypots' of the suppor
  • Trace the IPs as the source of the attacks, get a warrant for the systems doing the attacks and if they are part of a Botnet zombie virus trace the IP logs back until you find the source it originated from that are controlling the Botnets.

    You basically want to set up a Honeypot in a DMZ of the systems being targeted and take every other critical system offline and have the Honeypot act as it with dummy data on it. Then when the terrorists or crooks use the dummy data to register some where have the bank rep

  • Clearly what is needed is a coordinated network of computers and physical warfare technologies that can detect these threats and determine the proper course of action. I suggest we name this network Skynet.
  • Whoops, someone of unknown identity just launched a nuclear missile in our direction. "...We must be prepared to fight through in the worst case scenario...". Welcome to the club buddy.
  • What about us, who is outside the USA? There should be a serious systematic coordinated international police effort to fight cyberattacks.

    The USA is one of the main countries of origin of spam http://thegrebs.com/spam/ [thegrebs.com] . What about this? The US army cannot take action inside the country.

    It is good that bureaucrats at last began to notice the net. But they should lift from chairs and do some real work on global cyber-security and order. People around the world try to run businesses in the Internet, and hidin

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