Think Tank Ponders Legal Questions, Concepts Concerning Clashes in Cyber Space

The Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence is examining is how to label cyber attacks and whether it's appropriate to call them "cyber warfare" or "cyber conflict."

By Kara Reeder | Posted Apr 7, 2010
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Computerworld reports that an international think tank in Estonia is looking into a range of legal questions and concepts associated with cyber attacks.

One of the questions that the Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence is examining is how to label these skirmishes and whether it's appropriate to call them "cyber warfare" or "cyber conflict." Rain Ottis, a scientist with the group, says:

we don't have a single good instance of real cyber warfare ... We are trying to come up with a way to explain this in a more formal way so not everything by default is cyber warfare. Personally, I don't want to devalue the word 'war.'

The CCDCOE is also researching how Cold War-era concepts such as deterrence fit into cyber space. The problem with deterrence, says Kenneth Geers, a civilian with the U.S. Navy's Naval Criminal Investigative Services, is attribution:

It's really easy to hide in cyberspace ... You have to be able to get back at the aggressor, and in cyberspace, there's no guarantee of that.

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