Ambiguous Attacks

The most common cyber attacks today—theft of government and/or commercial information and intellectual property—rarely have an immediate effect, such as a conventional military attack, said Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn Thursday. But, they are enabling foreign competitors to steal the designs of US weapon systems, he said during a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. According to one recent estimate, such thefts have cumulatively cost the government and private sector a whopping $1 trillion, said Lynn. Attribution, or lack thereof, remains one of the biggest challenges in the cyber world, he said. “A missile comes with a return address. A cyber attack does not,” said Lynn. “We are getting much better [at identifying attackers], but it’s still a laborious process.” He used the occasion to unveil the Pentagon’s first cyberspace strategy, which attempts to outline both an offensive and defensive approach to protecting the Defense Department’s newest domain. (Lynn remarks) (Cyberspace strategy full document; caution, large-sized file.)