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Cyber-Intruder Sparks Massive Federal Response

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The 2008 discovery that a rogue program had penetrated a classified U.S. military network containing sensitive secrets by piggybacking on a thumb drive has had dramatic repercussions.

The incident had a transformative effect on the government's cybersecurity strategy, leading to the establishment of a new military command tasked with fortifying the military's network defenses and making preparations for offensive activities. The U.S. Cyber Command merges the Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations and the military's Network Warfare unit.

However, the incident also sparked an ongoing debate over the appropriate use of cyberweapons. "The danger is not so much that cybercapabilities will be used without warning by some crazy general," says former U.S. National Security Agency general counsel Stewart A. Baker. "The real worry is they won't be used at all because the generals don't know what the rules are."

Also provoking debate is the appropriate response by military commanders in their defense of computer systems. Complicating things further is the overlap between cybersecurity and intelligence operations, says the Center for Strategic and International Studies' James A. Lewis. The rules of engagement currently constrain the military to the defense of its own networks and do not permit it to go outside them without special presidential permission.

From Washington Post
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