The Washington Post reported that a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program aims to test unmanned cyberattacks that strike without human beings at the keyboard.
There is reason for concern that foreign-aimed cyberattacks are backfiring on Americans by creating new vectors for cybercriminals and by breaching privacy.
The recently uncovered attacks involved “techniques that could have been used against us just as effectively,” said Dave Aitel, president of cybersecurity firm Immunity Inc. and a former National Security Agency computer scientist.
Microsoft suffered some collateral damage from Flame. The designers of the virus exploited a previously unknown flaw in the company’s digital certificates to disguise malicious code as a Microsoft product. The software firm subsequently issued an update to block other hackers from abusing the fraudulent certificates.
Gen. John P. Casciano, a former Air Force director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
Americans, however, have more to fear from adversaries and cybercrooks than from the feds, he said. “I’m not terribly concerned about the U.S. government spying on us,” said Casciano, now a private consultant.
Casciano said he trusts the current legal framework
Civil liberties activists have argued otherwise, based on their longstanding criticism of FISA for sweeping up innocent Americans’ calls, emails and text messages.
One unintended consequence of cyberweaponry could be the accidental disruption of a civilian hospital system overseas, for instance. International cyberspying, he said, could inadvertently encroach on the human rights of foreigners and Americans abroad.
The Post’s Ellen Nakashima in late May wrote that a DARPA initiative, dubbed Plan X, aims “to develop systems that could give commanders the ability to carry out speed-of-light attacks and counterattacks using preplanned scenarios that do not involve human operators manually typing in code — a process considered much too slow.”