Imagine our nation comes under attack, an attack aimed at whatever targets present themselves, military or civilian. Units of our military become aware of the attack, move to engage the enemy, and see the enemy’s attacks coming inbound from unmarked, unflagged ships and planes. As the enemy’s fire continues to come in and impact American targets, the commanding officer turns to you, his boss, and asks if he should return fire. What is your likely response?
Mine would be something to effect of, “What? You’re not already returning fire?” I firmly believe that most people reading this blog would say something similar, if not simply yelling at the commander a firm “YES! SHOOT NOW!”
That’s why I was a little taken aback a few days ago when a report actually rose to the level of news that the nominee for the new Cyber Command asserted that the US should respond to cyber-attacks on our infrastructure.
The U.S. must fire back against cyber attacks swiftly and strongly and should act to counter or disable a threat even when the identity of the attacker is unknown, the director of the National Security Agency told Congress.
Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, who is the Obama administration’s nominee to take on additional duties as head of the new Cyber Command, also said the U.S. should not be deterred from taking action against countries such as Iran and North Korea just because they might launch cyber attacks.
No kidding. If enemy planes fire missiles at US targets, I expect our Air Force to blast them from the sky. If enemy ships fire their guns at our coastlines, I expect the Navy to send those ships to the bottom of the sea. If enemy soldiers press attacks against our territory in any way, I expect the Army and Marine Corp. to halt their advance and destroy them where they stand. Why would an enemy launching an information systems attack against our IT infrastructure not be subject to the same expectation?
It should be subject to counterattack, no question. And, just like with any other attack, their advance should be halted and their ability to attack us disabled or outright destroyed. Whether that’s with a counterattacking virus or a bunker-buster bomb makes very little difference to me – an attack against America must be answered and it needs to be convincingly so.