What constitutes an act of Cyber War?

Sean Walsh
FBI


Abstract

What constitutes an act of Cyber War? The first discussions on this topic took place at the end of the Clinton administration. They resulted in some limited but never fully articulated answers during the Bush administration. The aggressive kinetic action that constitutes an act of war under International and Customary law is clear in most minds. But, what acts of Cyber aggression rise to a level justifying war and all its weaponry - cyber and kinetic - is not clear. Why is this a subject of interest to this audience? Because you will be determining the essential facts as to the nature of cyber attack, its quantitative damage, whether it is routine criminal activity, or rises to an act of war and itís source, i.e., attribution. The public and most politicians whose decision it is of going to war do not understand these factors. In addition, the computer science/engineering community needs to design mechanisms to better determine attribution and limit the spread of malicious code as a means to prevent war. You need to understand what is at stake and get it right!