NEWPORT, R.I. – The EMC Chair at the Naval War College (NWC) sponsored a “From Cybersercurity to Cyberwar’ Workshop from September 15 to 17.
Approximately 45 experts from academia, policy institutions, IT industry, and the military considered the evolution of threats to cyberspace, discussed methods to defend cyberspace, placed cyber operations in the context of international law, and debated visions of cyberwar.
“One of our main objectives was to bring an interdisciplinary approach to the workshop,” said Dr. Derek Reveron, who is the EMC Chair and a professor in the National Security Decision Making Department at NWC. “The Department of Defense (DoD) has recognized cyberspace as a domain similar to air, sea, land, and space. We wanted to flesh out that idea and see if it makes sense to academics, information technologists and national security professionals.”
Dean of Academic Affairs John Garofano noted that the conference was also important to the research and education mission of the Naval War College.
“Our faculty and students consider security and strategic questions in all domains,” Garofano said. “A workshop like this is essential for discussing new ideas and debating current concepts so the Navy can optimize its resources in cyberspace. In fact, the Navy resurrected the 10th Fleet/Fleet Cyber Command earlier this year to focus on cyber issues.”
Throughout the workshop, participants discussed a variety of specific issues including what roles national cyber capabilities have played in contemporary conflict, what cyberspace activities constitute an armed attack and what would cyberwar look like.
John McDonald was a guest panelist who spoke on the topic of “Game Theory and Cybercrime: Lessons for the Real World.” His colleagues on the panel also considered relevant questions involving cybersecurity and the most probable types of cyberattacks the United States will face in the future.
“What we’re likely to see—and probably not prepared to handle—involves cyberterrorism,” said McDonald, who works for the security division of EMC and has more than 29 years of experience in the security industry. “This is the concept of using cybercrime as a weapon of terror. An example would be terrorists hacking into a computer system and electronically opening a valve at a chemical plant causing a major spill with tens of thousands of people being evacuated.”
This panel also discussed cyberattacks by organized crime and by broad-based groups representing other nation states that attempt to steal trade secrets or classified military information. Other experts at the workshop moderated discussions on how to defend cyberspace and how to confront nations that fund, supply or support cybermilitias.
“The quality and quantity of cyberattacks are increasing dramatically and it’s costing the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars annually,” said Richard S. Andres, a professor at the National Defense University. “Through stronger diplomatic measures—tariffs, trade restrictions and international sanctions—we must increase pressure on countries to find and police their own cybercriminals. We should also develop emerging technologies to protect our cyberspace, prevent attacks and identify those responsible.”
“Cloud Computing” is one such technology that would allow a company or organization to store its sensitive information on Google’s “cloud” or network of servers. A company could then use Google’s superior security to keep its data safe. It potentially could circumvent many of the tricks used by hackers to invade information systems.
Reveron believes the wide range of complex and strategic issues discussed during the workshop will prove beneficial to those who attended the three-day event and enrich the study of cyber issues at NWC.
“They can take these new ideas—and new professional connections—and apply them to their own jobs and industries,” Reveron said. “Cyberspace is still a relatively new field and we appreciated everyone who shared their expertise and knowledge on a variety of critical problems that we’re facing in the 21st Century.”
By David Reese, Naval War College Public Affairs