In Digital Combat, U.S. Finds No Easy Deterrent to Cyberattacks

On a Monday morning earlier this month, top Pentagon leaders gathered to simulate how they would respond to a sophisticated cyberattack aimed at paralyzing the nation’s power grids, its communications systems or its financial networks.The results were dispiriting. The enemy had all the advantages: stealth, anonymity and unpredictability. No one could pinpoint the country from which the attack came, so there was no effective way to deter further damage by threatening retaliation. What’s more, the military commanders noted that they even lacked the legal authority to respond — especially because it was never clear if the attack was an act of vandalism, an attempt at commercial theft or a state-sponsored effort to cripple the United States, perhaps as a prelude to a conventional war.What some participants in the simulation knew — and others did not — was that a version of their nightmare had just played out in real life, not at the Pentagon where they were meeting, but in the far less formal war rooms at Google Inc.To read this report in The New York Times in full, see: see:Organizing cybersecurity efforts remains key challenge
With the United States facing threats of cyberattacks from foreign countries, criminal organizations and politically motivated hackers, questions linger about the federal government’s approach to cybersecurity.There are few “penalties for doing bad things” in cyberspace, said James A. Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, during a briefing in Washington on Wednesday sponsored by Government Executive. He noted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech last week calling on Chinese authorities to investigate cyberattacks against Google marked the first time a U.S. leader has spoken out publicly about such an incident.

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