the marines to say what needs to be said, but that no one else has the nerve to
do. Marine general James Cartwright, commander of STRATCOM (Strategic Command)
pointed out that, in the face of increasing hacker attacks on Department of
Defense and civilian computer networks, the best defense is a good offense.
While many of these attacks are launched by criminal gangs and individuals
(most of them amateurs), an increasing amount of the hacker activity is
government sponsored, or the work of soldiers or civilians working for foreign
government. STRATCOM wants Congress to pass laws that make it easier, or even
possible, for the United States to locate, and go after, those who are already
waging Cyber War on the United States.
Exactly what these laws
might be was left open. This is a delicate area. Mucking about on the Internet
means stepping on the toes of foreigners. But a lot of foreign governments are
asking for it. The Chinese government is not bashful about its Cyber War
efforts, although officials are more reticent when it comes to details. It is
known that the Chinese government makes use of civilian "irregulars," and even
mercenaries, for some of its Cyber War tasks. The question is, who decides when
a Cyber War operation is an "attack?" Who determines who the attacker is?
A lot of nasty Internet
activity has been coming out of China lately, including very targeted attacks
on American military bases, and individual military personnel. But, so far, no
one is saying much publicly. Probably because to present a lot of evidence of
Chinas complicity would let the Chinese know how well they are being observed.
STRATCOM has apparently given some closed (classified) briefings to Congress,
detailing American vulnerabilities, and possible countermeasures that could be
undertaken, if new laws were passed to make some of the move legal.
STRATCOM is in charge of
American strategic weapons, including warfare via the Internet. STRATCOM is
also responsible for keeping an eye on the strategic weapons of other nations.