By Ned Moran
The United States currently faces the daunting challenge of identifying the actors responsible for launching politically motivated cyber attacks. According to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the United States is “under cyber attack virtually all the time, every day.” It is estimated that more than 140 countries currently field cyber warfare capabilities. Additionally, sophisticated adversaries can route attacks through proxies and obfuscate their identities. These facts combine to make attribution of cyber attacks a difficult challenge.
During the Cold War, none of these challenges existed. Attacks between the United States and rival powers were few and far between. The pool of nuclear powers was limited to an exclusive club. Additionally, it was more difficult to route a nuclear attack through a proxy.
The heightened ability to detect and identify the source of nuclear or missile attack increased stability during the Cold War. Many policymakers fear that the current inability to quickly and accurately identify the source of a cyber attack leads to instability and increases the chances that cyber attacks will be carried out. In order to improve its defensive posture, the United States must develop a cyber attack early warning system.
Although a number of private companies and nonprofit organizations have constructed a cyber infrastructure designed to detect cyber attacks, these ...