May 15, 2008, news.cnet.com
While Operation CyberStorm
is intended to
improve our ability to defend against a foreign cyberattack, the Air Force is
talking openly about our ability to launch a preemptive attack in cyberspace.
In the May 2008 issue of Armed Forces
, Col. Charles W. Williamson III wrote that "America needs a
network that can project power by building an af.mil robot network (botnet) that
can direct such massive amounts of traffic to target computers that they can no
longer communicate and become no more useful to our adversaries than hunks of
metal and plastic. America needs the ability to carpet bomb in cyberspace to
create the deterrent we lack."
He argues, "The time for fortresses on the Internet also has passed, even
though America has not recognized it. Now, the only consequence for an adversary
who intrudes into or attacks our networks is to get kicked out--if we can find
him and if he has not installed a hidden back door. That is not enough."
He concludes: "While America must harden itself in cyberspace, we cannot
afford to let adversaries maneuver in that domain uncontested. The af.mil botnet
brings the capability to help defeat an enemy attack or hit him before he hits
"Although it's hard to prove it," said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CTO at Finjin, "I
believe the cyberspace is already in use by various governments for intelligence
purposes. The disclosure that the Air Force plans to have offensive cybertools
should not surprise us since many systems rely on the Internet to
operate/communicate." He added that someone will also need to make sure these
systems can be protected when needed.
That's a sentiment echoed by Dancho Danchev, who offers some insight on ZDNet
his observations is that these systems can be spoofed or otherwise fooled. For
example, attacks against the U.S. may appear to originate in a country that the
enemy wants us to DDoS (perhaps for them).
Over on F-Secure, a poll of readers
worldwide showed on Thursday that nearly 70 percent of the respondents feel the
U.S. should not build its own offensive botnet.