Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cyber Warfare - An Analysis of the Means and Motivations of Selected Nation States

Report released by the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College in December 2004. A bit outdated, but still a good overall security read. Props to for the find.


This study, written in response to a grant provided by the Department of Homeland Security, assesses potential foreign computer threats to information technology networks in the United
States. In focusing on overseas cyber threat capabilities, one of the thrusts of this study is to dispel popular myths and anecdotal understanding about the nature and degree of the cyber threat—taking into account public and private digital network vulnerabilities. Our goal is to examine the open source evidence to develop a rigorous and dispassionate assessment of both cyber “offense” by selected nation states and the likely impact of an attack through the wires on the United States.

Cyber warfare involves units organized along nation-state boundaries, in offensive and defensive operations, using computers to attack other computers or networks through electronic means. Hackers and other individuals trained in software programming and exploiting the intricacies of computer networks are the primary executors of these attacks. These individuals often operate under the auspices and possibly the support of nation-state actors. In the future, if not already common practice, individual cyber warfare units will execute attacks against targets in a cooperative and simultaneous manner.

A key premise of the present report is that information processing—whether by equipment (computers) or by humans— is becoming a “center of gravity” in future warfare. Nation-states, including the United States, reconnoiter and probe to identify exploitable digital network weaknesses among potential adversaries. Our immediate goal is to both imagine and define how foreign cyber attack capabilities might threaten information networks in the United States and what potential effects they might have. The discussion focuses on relatively arcane, non-sensational concepts and terms such as packet-switched networks, grid topologies, bandwidth, reconnaissance, asymmetric doctrine, and convergence.

The Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College is concerned, in part, with securing computer systems against intrusion and building secure trust relationships among networked computing devices. It is our hope that by making the findings in the present study accessible to the general reader, we will illuminate current issues, foster practical discussions, and stimulate appropriate policy solutions to the challenges identified.

Full PDF -

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