One of the things the digital era affords us as scholars is the ability to both deliver to a wider audience, and develop a reputation independent of institutional structures. That is, not only can you blog about developments in your field, and blog about how those developments might be of interest to a wider audience, and audience outside of your immediate classroom and colleagues, but perhaps more importantly one can develop a profile and voice that is more important than the specific institution with which you are associated. Think about this as rather than being a professor from Omega university who writes about Legal Institutions in Meerkat Communities, you can be a professor who writes about Meerkats and the Law and who is associated with Omega university. This is not really anything earthshaking, but rather a general trend that the internet creates, administrative and sorting functions are pushed down to the local level. This is happening in all sorts of fields and education will certainly follow.
While the Bush administration seriously studied computer-network attacks, the Obama administration is the first to elevate cybersecurity Ã¢â‚¬â€ both defending American computer networks and attacking those of adversaries Ã¢â‚¬â€ to the level of a White House director, whose appointment is expected in coming weeks.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are deeply concerned about the second- and third-order effects of certain types of computer network operations, as well as about laws of war that require attacks be proportional to the threat,Ã¢â‚¬Â said one senior officer.
these concerns had restrained the military from carrying out a number of proposed missions. Ã¢â‚¬Å“In some ways, we are self-deterred today because we really havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t answered that yet in the world of cyber,Ã¢â‚¬Â the officer said.
In interviews over recent weeks, a number of current and retired White House officials, Pentagon civilians and military officers disclosed details of classified missions Ã¢â‚¬â€ some only considered and some put into action Ã¢â‚¬â€ that illustrate why this issue is so difficult.
Although the digital attack on IraqÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s financial system was not carried out, the American military and its partners in the intelligence agencies did receive approval to cripple IraqÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s military and government communications systems in the early hours of the war in 2003. And that attack did produce collateral damage.
Officials now acknowledge that the communications offensive temporarily disrupted telephone service in countries around Iraq that shared its cellphone and satellite telephone systems. That limited damage was deemed acceptable by the Bush administration.
Another such event took place in the late 1990s, according to a former military researcher. The American military attacked a Serbian telecommunications network and accidentally affected the Intelsat satellite communications system, whose service was hampered for several days.
Mark Seiden, a Silicon Valley computer security specialist who was a co-author of the National Research Council report, said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The chances are very high that you will inevitably hit civilian targets Ã¢â‚¬â€ the worst-case scenario is taking out a hospital which is sharing a network with some other agency.Ã¢â‚¬Â
And while such attacks are unlikely to leave smoking craters, electronic attacks on communications networks and data centers could have broader, life-threatening consequences where power grids and critical infrastructure like water treatment plants are increasingly controlled by computer networks.
Two traditional military limits now are being applied to cyberwar:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Cyberwar is problematic from the point of view of the laws of war,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Jack L. Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The U.N. Charter basically says that a nation cannot use force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any other nation. But what kinds of cyberattacks count as force is a hard question, because force is not clearly defined.Ã¢â‚¬Â