February 22, 2013

U.S. Government Must Provide Greater Clarity on Active Cyber Defense Activities, Argues CNAS Expert

As this week's Mandiant report on
China's cyber espionage highlights, cyber attacks are posing ever more serious
economic and national security risks to the United States. In Active Cyber
Defense: A Framework for Policymakers
, CNAS Senior Fellow and
Director of the Program on Technology and U.S. National Security Dr. Irving
Lachow urges policymakers to provide guidance and clarity on an intensifying
debate about active cyber defense (ACD).

ACD, which is the range of proactive actions taken to engage an adversary
before and during a cyber incident, "can dramatically improve efforts to
prevent, detect and respond to" sophisticated attacks, says the
author. Although ACD plays an increasingly important role in protecting both
public and private sector organizations, Dr. Lachow notes that there
is a great deal of uncertainty about which ACD actions companies can legally take
to defend themselves. He points out that much of the current debate
surrounding ACD focuses on the most extreme scenarios and pays insufficient
attention to a number of useful options that are available to private sector

Active Cyber
Defense: A Framework for Policymakers

The lack
of legal clarity on what ACD actions can be taken under which circumstances has
the potential to create undesirable outcomes for both industry and government,
according to Dr. Lachow. He urges the U.S. government to provide greater
clarity on which ACD actions are legal and which are not and calls on
policymakers to develop a framework for ACD initiatives. "Clearer guidance
will enable organizations to protect themselves from advanced cyber attacks to
the greatest extent possible without putting themselves in legal
jeopardy," he concludes.



The Center for a New American Security
(CNAS) is an independent and nonpartisan research
institution that develops strong, pragmatic and principled national security
and defense policies. CNAS leads efforts to help inform and prepare the
national security leaders of today and tomorrow.


Kay King

Director of External

and Senior Advisor

Email: kking@cnas.org

Ph: (202) 457-9408

Sara Conneighton

Director of External Relations

Email: sconneighton@cnas.org

(202) 457-9429