The call for clarity was issued by Michael Chertoff, former head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, at the RSA security conference in London.
He said the lack of direction was giving the initiative to criminals and hampering co-ordinated responses to the growing number of hi-tech attacks.
Countries should be able to defend themselves, he suggested, if an attack posed imminent danger to human lives.
"It's the least understood threat and the one where our doctrine is least developed," said Mr Chertoff.
The need for such a doctrine was as pressing now as it was in 1950s, he said, when the emergence of nuclear weapons rendered irrelevant earlier policies governing when and why conflicts were fought.
From BBC News
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I just asked the Chertoff Group to comment on my idea of resurrecting LETTERS OF MARQUE AND REPRISAL granted by Congress to modern-day cyber privateers. Just as the Revolutionary War was substantially funded and fought by wartime privateers, the thought I'm floating is that licensed and bonded privateers could monetize (e.g., loot) criminal organizations under a set of well-defined conditions. In Mr. Chertoff's talk on the 14th, he made the very good point that it must be "very clear to an adversary the consequences of [a cyber attack]." Seems to me the mere existence of even one such LETTER OF MARQUE would significantly reduce criminal cyber activity and even give foreign governments serious pause.
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