Monday, February 25, 2013

Cyber Warfare

Paul Rosenzweig is the author of Cyber Warfare: How Conflicts in Cyberspace Are Challenging America and Changing the World for Praeger Security International (2013). He is founder of Red Branch Consulting PLLC, a homeland security consulting company and a senior advisor to The Chertoff Group. He also serves as a professorial lecturer in law at George Washington University, a senior editor of the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, and as a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation.  During 2011, he was a Carnegie visiting fellow at the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. Mr. Rosenzweig formerly served as deputy assistant secretary for policy in the Department of Homeland Security.

Cyberspace is a globalized environment. That’s one of its special virtues. From your laptop you can connect to almost anywhere in the world: you can read a Japanese paper or make reservations at a French restaurant. But what is true for the average users is also true for malevolent actors. Increasingly, we’ve come to realize that there are many out there who use cyberspace as a means for criminal activity, espionage, and even war. 
This past week, an American cyber security company, Mandiant, disclosed the results of its seven year investigation of a threat they dubbed APT1, for advanced persistent threat.  
According to Mandiant, a secret unit of the Chinese Army, Unit 61398, has systematically been engaged in cyber espionage, principally in the United States. As they said, the evidence is so strong that the only other possibility is that “a secret, resourced organization full of mainland Chinese speakers with direct access to Shanghai-based telecommunications infrastructure is engaged in a multi-year, enterprise scale computer espionage campaign right outside of Unit 61398’s gates, performing tasks similar to Unit 61398’s known mission.”  In other words, China is guilty.

Coming on the heels of China’s intrusions into the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, it’s becoming clear that China is a rogue actor in cyberspace. China denies the allegations, but its denials have become the barest fig leaf of concealment. Nobody believes them any more except the credulous who want to. 
So what’s to be done? The fundamental question of international internet governance is a profoundly difficult one. The distributed and dynamic nature of the network makes hierarchical responses almost impossible. 
For the United States, the only real answer is to start treating Chinese intrusions more seriously. That means identifying areas where China is vulnerable to pressure and start applying the pressure systematically. Ideas may range from economic sanctions to greater support for Chinese democracy activists. In the cyber realm we might consider poking holes in the Great Chinese Firewall to let information into their closed political ecosystem. But whatever the response, it is time for the US government to have a concerted policy that is more than speaking firmly to the Chinese in opposition.

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