Best cyber offense is a good defense, RAND report says

Best cyber offense is a good defense, RAND report says
Best cyber offense is a good defense, RAND report says 

By Mark Rutherford
Military Tech
CNet News
October 15, 2009

A new RAND Corporation report suggests the U.S. may be better off 
playing defense and pursuing diplomatic, economic, and prosecutorial 
efforts against cyberattackers, instead of making strategic cyberwarfare 
an investment priority.

The study comes as the U.S. military fires up its new unified Cyber 
Command (USCYBERCOM) program this month. The new outfit will be 
responsible for network-related operations, defense, and attacks and 
will operate under the U.S. Strategic Command.

Cyberwarfare is better at bothering an adversary than defeating 
it--given that permanent effects are illusive, author Martin C. Libicki 
wrote in the report, titled "Cyberdeterrence and Cyberwar."

On offense, cyberwar might be better relegated to support roles, and 
then only "sparingly and precisely," according to the report. A one-shot 
strike to silence a surface-to-air missile system, allowing aircraft to 
penetrate defenses to destroy a nuclear facility, is the example given.

"Attempting a cyberattack in the hopes that success will facilitate a 
combat operation may be prudent; betting the operation's success on a 
particular set of results may not be," Libicki wrote. One question 
planners should ask is whether strategic cyberwar would induce political 
compliance comparable to what could be produced by, say, strategic air 


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