Order Code RL30735
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Updated June 19, 2001
Steven A. Hildreth
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, & Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Cyberwarfare raises issues of growing national interest and concern.
Cyberwarfare can be used to describe various aspects of defending and attacking
information and computer networks in cyberspace, as well as denying an adversary’s
ability to do the same. Some major problems encountered with cyber attacks, in
particular, are the difficulty in determining the origin and nature of the attack and in
assessing the damage incurred.
A number of nations are incorporating cyberwarfare as a new part of their
military doctrine. Some that have discussed the subject more openly include the
United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China. Many of these are developing
views toward the use of cyberwarfare that differ from those of the United States, and
in some cases might represent national security threats.
Cyberterrorism is also an issue of growing national interest. Many believe
terrorists plan to disrupt the Internet or critical infrastructures such as transportation,
communications, or banking and finance. It does seem clear that terrorists use the
Internet to conduct the business of terrorism, but on closer inspection, however, it is
not clear how or whether terrorists could use violence through the Internet to achieve
Although the U.S. government is striving to consolidate responsibility for and
focus more attention on cyberwarfare issues, it is not clear how successful those
efforts will be. Congress may choose to examine critically the policies, organization,
and legal framework that guides executive branch decisionmaking on issues of
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Nature of the Challenge: Case Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Air Force Rome Lab (1994) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Eligible Receiver (1997) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Solar Sunrise (1998) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
U.S. Views and Efforts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Executive Branch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Policy and Doctrine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Current Legal Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Recent Initiatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Congressional Response, Reaction, and Activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Selected Foreign Views and Activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Russia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
People’s Republic of China (PRC) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
United Kingdom (UK) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Germany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
France . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Non-State Actors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cyberterrorism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Challenges and Issues for Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Appendix: Terms & Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
There is a war being waged in cyberspace1 today – at least that’s what many in
government and the media would have us believe. Former Deputy Secretary of
Defense John Hamre testified to Congress, for example, that “you can basically say
we are at war.” More recently, President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld both
acknowledged that cyberwarfare is an emerging threat to U.S. national security.2
A couple of years ago, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) only mentioned
Russia and China specifically as possible cyber threats. Today, U.S. officials indicate
that more than 20 countries have various kinds of information operations (IO)
directed against the United States. The CIA testified more recently that adversaries
are incorporating cyberwarfare3 as a new part of their military doctrine. A declassified
Cyberspace is the total interconnectedness of human beings through computers and
telecommunication without regard to physical geography. William Gibson is sometimes
credited with inventing or popularizing the term by using it in his novel of 1984,
Neuromancer. Cyberspace is often used as a metaphor for describing the non-physical terrain
created by computer systems. Online systems, for example, create a cyberspace within which
people can communicate with one another (via e-mail), do research, or simply window shop.
Like physical space, cyberspace contains objects (files, mail messages, graphics, etc.) and
different modes of transportation and delivery. Unlike real space, though, exploring
cyberspace does not require any physical movement other than pressing keys on a keyboard
or moving a mouse. Some programs, particularly computer games, are designed to create a
special cyberspace, one that resembles physical reality in some ways but defies it in others.
In its extreme form, called virtual reality, users are presented with visual, auditory, and even
tactile feedback that makes cyberspace feel real. See, for instance,
See, “Remarks by the President and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Swearing-In
Ceremony,” The Oval Office, Office of the Press Secretary, Jan. 26, 2001; President Bush,
“Remarks to Central Intelligence Agency Employees in Langley, Virginia,” Weekly
Compilation of Presidential Documents, Washington, DC, March 26, 2001; and “Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Interview on Fox News Sunday,” Feb. 11, 2001, News
Transcript, U.S. Department of Defense.
A number of terms are used to describe the various aspects of defending and attacking
information and computer networks, as well as denying an adversary’s ability to do the same,
or even dominating the information environment on the battlefield. These terms are more
accurately defined later in the section on Terms & Definitions. Meanwhile, cyberwarfare in
this report will be used broadly to refer to these various activities. More specifically, it can
Navy threat assessment identifies Russia, China, India, and Cuba as countries who
have acknowledged policies of preparing for cyberwarfare and who are rapidly
developing their capabilities. North Korea, Libya, Iran, Iraq, and Syria reportedly
have some capability, and France, Japan, and Germany are active in this field.4
The media and others often also warn of cyberterrorists waiting for the right
moment to bring down the U.S. power, transportation, or communications grids. For
example, at a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee on cyberterrorism that
included the CIA (Feb. 23, 2000), Sen. Bob Bennett said, “attacks on American
defense and industrial facilities in cyberspace are as real and dangerous as any
conventional threat to economic prosperity and national security.”
But is all this really war or warfare? Computer systems at the Pentagon and
other military sites get “attacked” thousands of times each year. But is it war if many
or most of those attacks come from teenagers here in the United States, or even
abroad? Does the military even know how many of those attacks it should genuinely
be worried about? Is an attempt by a foreign nation to collect military secrets via the
Internet or modem an act of war for which the United States is prepared to respond
coercively? Should the United States respond in kind by waging war in cyberspace?
What constitutes victory in cyberspace? Or is spying traditionally considered
something else, something less than war? If another nation systematically attacks
U.S. business networks to steal trade secrets in support of its own economic interests
or to pass those secrets on to their own corporations for competitive advantage, is
that warfare? Does the answer change if the attacking nation is a U.S. ally or friend?
So what is the appeal of cyberwarfare or information warfare? Why choose
cyberwarfare over other forms of warfare or conflict? Many see that it provides a
range of relatively anonymous, non-lethal options that can be applied at the speed of
light and with relatively low risk of escalation to more direct forms of conflict. In one
sense, it’s a way for others to wage an asymmetrical conflict against the United
States. The likelihood of getting caught, let alone incurring U.S. military might, may
seem low compared to the possible benefits. The appeal of cyberwarfare to the
United States could grow out of the larger U.S. trend over the past twenty years to
minimize conflict casualties and maximize technological advantages while pursuing
increasingly activist foreign and defense policy agendas.
This report is designed to examine broad cyberwarfare issues and raise
underlying questions. The report first summarizes some cases that illustrate realworld concerns many have with respect to cyberwarfare. It then discusses the current
U.S. policy and organizational approaches to cyberwarfare. The report also examines
include computer or network penetration, denial-of-service attacks on computers and
networks, equipment sabotage through cyberspace, sensor jamming, and even manipulating
trusted information sources to condition or control an adversary’s thinking.
Navy Names Nations Posing Cyber Threats. Defense Week. Sept. 5, 2000, p. 1. The Office
of Naval Intelligence prepared the report.
foreign perspectives, the issue of cyberterrorism, and some reported instances of
cyberwarfare. An appendix on terms and definitions is included at the end of the
report. This report’s focus is on cyberwarfare activities sponsored by nation-states,
but includes cyberterrorism that is aimed at achieving political objectives at the
It is important to point out that a large number of other kinds of cyber attacks
take place regularly, but they will not be addressed by this report. In fact, these types
of attacks are likely more frequent than state-sponsored activities or cyberterrorism.
These other attacks or intrusions also are unauthorized attempts to access computers,
computer controlled systems, or networks. These activities can range from simply
penetrating a system and examining it for the challenge, thrill, or interest, to entering
a system for revenge, to steal information, cause embarrassment, extort money, or
cause deliberate localized harm to computers or damage to a much larger
infrastructure, such as a water supply or energy system. These cyber attacks might
be referred to as hacking, cyber mischief, cyber hooliganism, personal or corporate
theft, revenge, or espionage, or organized crime activities (foreign and domestic).
The realm for their resolution may lie in law enforcement and judicial systems, and
legislative remedy where necessary.
Obviously, Congress plays a key role in the formulation, funding, conduct, and
oversight of U.S. national security. The interplay of Congress and the Executive
Branch on cyberwarfare issues in recent years is touched on later.
Nature of the Challenge: Case Studies
Several examples help illustrate the complexity of cyberwarfare, as well as the
concern that many have. They show the difficulty in identifying the source and
purpose of the attack, in determining whether a coordinated attack is underway, in
assessing what seems to work and what does not, and calculating the damages
incurred. The cases summarized below help raise an important question: does
cyberwar represent a fundamentally new form of 21st century warfare, for which the
United States may or may not be prepared, or is it simply a new tool for traditional
asymmetric conflict, for which this country also may or may not be prepared to
Air Force Rome Lab (1994)
In March 1994, system administrators at Rome Lab in New York found their
network under attack. The Air Force dispatched two teams to investigate further.
The attacks were traced to an ISP (Internet Service Provider) first in New York, then
in Seattle, Washington, where the Internet path dead-ended (the attackers used dialup lines). There was subsequent monitoring at Rome Lab and two hacker handles or
aliases were identified – Kuji and Datastream Cowboy. Informants were solicited and
someone recognized a hacker from the United Kingdom; this hacker had bragged that
he had broken into various U.S. military systems. The United States then contacted
Scotland Yard. Scotland Yard discovered the hacker was “phreaking”5 through
Columbia and Chile to New York, defrauding telephone companies and the New
York ISP as a jumping off point to attack Rome Lab. The UK hacker was later
observed targeting other sites such as NATO headquarters, Goddard Space Flight
Center, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. At least eight countries were used as
conduits for these attacks. Scotland Yard had enough information to issue an arrest
warrant and proceeded to make the arrest after data from the South Korean Atomic
Research Institution was accessed. In all, over 150 intrusions were monitored at
Rome Lab from 100 different points of origin. More than 100 other victims
reportedly were hit.
Datastream Cowboy, a 16 year-old British student, pled guilty and was fined.
His mentor, Kuji, a 22 year-old Israeli technician, was found not guilty because no
laws in Israel applied to this incident.
Eligible Receiver (1997)
Eligible Receiver was the first Information Warfare (IW) exercise in this country.
Thirty-five people participated on the Red Team over 90 days using off-the-shelf
technology and software. The scenario was a rogue state rejecting direct military
confrontation with the United States, while seeking to attack vulnerable U.S.
information systems. Some of the goals of the rogue state were to conceal the
identity of the attackers and to delay or deny any U.S. ability to respond militarily.
A number of cyber attacks (all simulated) were made against power and
communications networks in Oahu, Los Angeles, Colorado Springs, St. Louis,
Chicago, Detroit, Washington, DC, Fayetteville, and Tampa.
Although reliable, unclassified results are hard to come by it is generally believed
government and commercial sites were easily attacked and taken down. This exercise
served as a wake-up call for many. Gen. Campbell, head of the Pentagon’s Joint Task
Force – Computer Network Defense, wrote Eligible Receiver “clearly demonstrated
our lack of preparation for a coordinated cyber and physical attack on our critical
military and civilian infrastructure.”6 Then Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said,
“Eligible Receiver was an important and revealing exercise that taught us that we
must be better organized to deal with potential attacks against our computer systems
and information infrastructure.” Sen. John Kyl said in 1998:
Well, [cyberterrorism is] surprisingly easy. It’s hard to quantify that in words, but
there have been some exercises run recently. One that’s been in the media, called
Eligible Receiver, demonstrated in real terms how vulnerable the transportation
grid, the electricity grid, and others are to an attack by, literally, hackers – people
using conventional equipment, no “spook” stuff in other words.7
Closely related to hacking, it means using a computer or other device to trick a phone system.
Typically, phreaking is used to make free calls or to have calls charged to a different account.
IAnewsletter. Vol. 3, No. 4, p. 10.
Interview on Cyberterrorism, U.S. Information Agency, November 1998.
Solar Sunrise (1998)
In February 1998, a number of Department of Defense networks were attacked
using a well-known vulnerability in the Solaris (UNIX-based) computer system. The
attackers: probed Defense Department servers to see if the vulnerability existed;
exploited the vulnerability and entered the system; planted a program to gather data;
and then returned later to collect that data.
Some of the initial probe activities appeared to originate from Harvard University
and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), moving on to Pearl Harbor and a number of Air
Force bases: Kirtland, Lackland, Andrews, Columbus, Gunter, and Tyndall. Later
intrusion activities were monitored from the UAE, Utah State University, and a
commercial Internet web site to some of the same Air Force bases. Further activity
was monitored at dozens of other U.S. military sites and universities. International
activity was monitored in Germany, France, Israel, UAE, and Taiwan. Over 500
computer systems were compromised, including military, commercial, and educational
sites, by attackers using only moderately sophisticated tools.
In the end, two California High School students were arrested and pled guilty.
Their mentor, an 18 year-old Israeli, was also arrested and indicted.
Although the Department of Defense called it “the most organized and
systematic attack to date,” many dismissed its seriousness because “the Justice
Department claimed that no classified information was compromised.”8 And details
of precisely what the hackers did are not publicly available.
Lessons some have drawn, however, are that Solar Sunrise confirmed the
findings of Eligible Receiver: U.S. information systems are vulnerable. Additionally,
others indicate that various legal issues remain unresolved (e.g., statutory restrictions
and competing investigative needs and privacy concerns that hinder searches), there
are no effective indications and warnings system in place, intrusion detection systems
are insufficient, and there is too much government bureaucracy that hinders an
effective and timely response.
U.S. Views and Efforts
How adequately is the United States prepared to deal with these kinds of cyber
threats, as well as more serious threats to national security through cyberspace? This
section summarizes how the United States now approaches these issues. Although
it appears the government is now thinking about cyberwarfare issues more than in the
past, and appears better organized, it is not clear whether a national consensus has
formed or will form as to whether cyber threats constitute serious national security
threats requiring a clear national security response.
Despite formal pronouncements (see below), it appears the government holds
two major views on this subject. One view suggests that cyberthreats are primarily
a national security problem in that major U.S. national interests and critical
infrastructure are threatened. Historically, U.S. national military and diplomatic
power has often been brought to bear to protect those interests. A case can also be
made that cyberthreats to the United States similarly threaten U.S. national interests.
Another view holds that cyberthreats should be handled primarily by civil or domestic
authorities. A major concern here is over a strong military role within the borders of
the United States (as opposed to outside the borders). In addition, a variety of
privacy and civil liberties concerns also raise concern over a stronger military role.
In the past, threats to the United States from abroad could mostly be countered
abroad. But today we live in an age where geographic borders are easier to broach
and do not even exist in cyberspace. This represents a new challenge to
Policy and Doctrine. Several forms of guidance help shape U.S. policy
toward cyber attacks and cyberwarfare. The most recent White House report on
National Security Strategy notes “we face threats to critical national infrastructures,
which increasingly could take the form of a cyber-attack in addition to physical attack
or sabotage, and could originate from terrorist or criminal groups, as well as hostile
states.”9 These annual reports play a major guiding role within the Executive Branch
national security bureaucracy.
The Department of Defense plays a key role in defending U.S. interests in
cyberspace. Various Defense Department directives provide guidance and define
terms such as Information Operations and Information Assurance (see section on
Terms & Definitions). For instance, the Joint Doctrine for Information Operations
(Joint Pub 3-13, October 9, 1998), represents a key document in defining how U.S.
joint forces use cyberwarfare to support U.S. military strategy. But much of what the
military does in cyberspace today is an outgrowth of traditional views and approaches
toward ensuring information security or InfoSec.
The military has been further guided by Joint Vision 2010 (JV-2010), a broad
long-term strategic concept for joint military strategy and planning purposes
promulgated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. JV-2010 embraced information superiority
and technological advantages designed to transform traditional warfighting. Its
successor, JV-2020 (released May 30, 2000), extends the conceptual template
established by JV-2010 to guide the continuing transformation of U.S. military forces.
Among other things, JV-2020 states:
changes in the information environment make information superiority a key enabler
of the transformation of the operational capabilities of the joint force and the
evolution of joint command and control.
The White House. A National Security Strategy for a New Century. Dec. 1999.
Also, the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) stated that asymmetric forms of
warfare, such as information warfare, will become increasingly prevalent in the world,
because of the prevalence of such capabilities in the hands of potential future
adversaries and the likelihood that such adversaries would resort to such means in
the face of overwhelming U.S. conventional dominance, U.S. forces must plan and
prepare to fight and win major theater wars under such conditions.10
In addition, Presidential Decision Directive No. 63 (PDD-63) established in May
1998 a national goal to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure11 by the year 2003.
PDD-63 further states that any disruptions to infrastructures “be brief, infrequent,
manageable, geographically isolated, and minimally detrimental to the welfare of the
United States.”12 More recently, the White House National Plan for Information
Systems Protection (Jan. 2000) seeks to further identify U.S. critical infrastructure
vulnerabilities as part of a longer term effort to find solutions through government and
private sector cooperation.
The Bush Administration has not yet articulated a policy toward cyberwarfare
or cyberterrorism. Some key officials, however, have suggested that efforts are
underway. In March 2001, Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz testified before
Congress that the United States must develop new strategies to defend against
(among other things) cyberwarfare.13 And just prior to President Bush’s June 2001
visit to Europe, National Security Council Advisor Condoleeza Rice indicated the
President would consult with European leaders on developing a new framework to
deal with common threats, such as information warfare.14 Also, the Bush FY2001
Defense Supplemental request included $50 million for classified Information Warfare
Organization. CRS Report RL30153 (Critical Infrastructures: Background
and Early Implementation of PDD-63) provides details of government organization
for PDD-63. Among a number of things, PDD-63 established the position of National
Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism on the
National Security Council staff. This person, currently Richard Clarke, chairs the
Critical Infrastructure Coordination Group (CICG), which serves as “the primary
Department of Defense. Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review. May 1997.
Critical infrastructures are categorized as follows: information and communications; banking
and finance; water supply; aviation, highways, mass transit, pipelines, rail, and waterborne
commerce; emergency, fire, and continuity of government services; public health services;
electric power, oil and gas production, and storage.
For a comprehensive and detailed overview of PDD-63, see Jack Moteff, Critical
Infrastructures: Background & Early Implementation of PDD-63, CRS Report RL 30153,
Jim Garamone, “Wolfowitz Discusses DoD Goals During Testimony,” American Forces
Information Service News Articles, March 7, 2001.
Condoleeza Rice, A Mission to Build on Common Challenges,” The Washington Times,
June 11, 2001, p. A15.
interagency working group for developing and implementing policy and for
coordinating the federal government’s own internal security measures.” The CICG
includes high-level agency representation (including the Sector Liaisons15), the
National Economic Council, and all other relevant agencies. PDD-63 also established
a National Information Assurance Council (NIAC) that includes private and local and
state government representatives in the various sectors or infrastructures. PDD-63
called for a National Infrastructure Assurance Plan to provide an assessment of
national needs in protecting the nation’s infrastructure, as well as guidance in pursuing
possible budgetary and legislative remedies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) through the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) is given a lead
role in serving as an early warning center for information system attacks. There is
also an extensive federal structure for dealing with terrorism.16
The Department of Defense and other military agencies play key roles in
protecting sensitive information and infrastructure. Much of the responsibility for
dealing with cyber threat and response policies is now consolidated under the
Assistant Secretary of Defense C3I (Command, Control, Communications, &
Intelligence).17 On October 1, 2000, U.S. Space Command at Peterson Air Force
Base, Colorado, assumed operational responsibility for the CNA (Computer Network
Attack) mission for the Department of Defense. U.S. Space Command now takes the
military lead in defending DoD networks, as well as offensive information operations
as an element of defending U.S. systems. CNA operations may also include
counterrorism and support of U.S. military forces deployed in crisis or conflict.18
The services and the various defense agencies also contribute in various ways to
the challenge of cyberwarfare. For example, the Joint Task Force – Computer
Network Defense (JTF–CND) operations center opened in Virginia in August 1999.
It was designed to serve as the focal point for defense of DoD computer systems.19
Until that time, the various services and agencies had been left largely to determine
how best to improve network and system security. The JTF–CND began a process
whereby common directives were established and recommended. The JTF–CND
currently retains operational command for CND (Computer Network Defense) while
U.S. Space Command is building a long-term, robust CND capability at Colorado
Springs. In addition, some of the reserve forces, such as the Army Reserve, have
created information operations centers trained and manned by so-called cyber-defense
Each of the critical infrastructures identified in footnote 7 are represented by a lead federal
agency. For example, the Department of Treasury has the lead in banking and finance.
According to DoD Directive 5137.1, the Assistant Secretary is the principal staff assistant
and advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense for C3I, information
management (IM), information operations (IO), counter-intelligence (CI), and security
countermeasures (SCM) matters, including warning, reconnaissance, and intelligence and
intelligence-related activities conducted by the Department of Defense.
News Release, Sep. 29, 2000: [http://www.spacecom.af.mil/usspace/rel15-00.htm].
Information about the Center can be found in, IAnewsletter, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 10-15.
Current Legal Framework. In addition to the various U.S. laws guiding the
conduct of warfare in general and U.S. government conduct in cyberspace, a key
document was produced by the Department of Defense that examined the range of
treaties and international law as they might pertain to the conduct of cyberwarfare.20
This document is apparently playing an important role in guiding U.S. consideration
of defensive and offensive operations in cyberspace. In essence, it makes several
conclusions. First, it concludes there is little likelihood that the international
community will soon generate a coherent body of information operations law.
Second, it indicates there are no clear legal remedies or vehicles to address the type
of information operations activities being considered by the United States. Third, and
perhaps most relevant, the document recommends analyzing the various elements and
circumstances of any particular planned operation or activity to determine how
existing international legal principles are likely to apply.
Some have pointed out key legal issues that remain unresolved. These include,
for example, the need for international agreements for expeditious pursuit of those
violating the law, law enforcement needs in the conduct of electronic surveillance of
those launching cyber attacks, possible legislation to encourage information sharing
between the private sector and the government by protecting proprietary information
and shielding sensitive information from FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)
requests, and the establishment of clear and appropriate rules of engagement for cyber
defense activities.21 Some of these ideas are likely to generate controversy as national
security interests are balanced against privacy concerns, for instance.
Recent Initiatives. In January 2000, President Clinton announced a 10-point,
$2 billion program designed to protect government computers and networks from
cyber attacks. The President proposed spending this money to increase funding for
research and development in identifying and addressing vulnerabilities, detecting cyber
attacks, developing intelligence and law enforcement activities, and creating
capabilities to respond and recover from cyber attacks. The White House had wanted
the program to go into effect by the close of 2000, and for it to be fully operational
by mid-2003. The Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Technology,
Terrorism, and Government Information held hearings in February 2000, but further
action was not taken. Richard Clark (former National Security Council Coordinator
for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism) had expressed
frustration on several occasions that Congress has neither acted on this proposal, nor
similar Administration proposals designed to strengthen and fund U.S. security in
cyberspace over the past two years.
Congressional Response, Reaction, and Activities
For the most part, the Executive Branch has taken the initiative thus far
regarding information security and cyberwarfare issues. Congress regularly supports
funding for a wide range of activities that are designed to protect government
Department of Defense. Office of the General Counsel. An Assessment of International
Legal Issues in Information Operations. May 1999.
IAnewsletter, Vol. 3, No. 1.
information systems and data. Much of this funding goes for programs that can be
considered information assurance. These efforts are found in virtually every federal
agency and are simply part of the normal responsibilities of government agencies. An
accurate account of total annual funding for these efforts is not available.
Congress also regularly supports a broad range of national security programs
that are in various ways related to information assurance and information operations.
Many of these are found in the services, and throughout the various defense agencies.
Although requested, the Defense Department could not provide CRS with a budget
estimate for these programs. In perhaps large part, this is because there remains some
lack of consensus as to what constitutes information operations or cyberwarfare
activities within the Defense Department (even though a DoD definition exists). In
addition, many of the tasks that might be considered information operations are part
of what the military ordinarily does. Nonetheless, neither the Defense Department nor
Congress has fully separated out these activities. This makes it difficult therefore to
determine whether the overall funding is adequate or redundant, or even effective.
Some in Congress introduced relevant legislation this year. For instance, in
March 2000, Rep. Jim Saxton introduced H.Con.Res. 282, which designates
cyberterrorism an emerging national security threat. The bill calls for federal and
private sector partnership, a revised legal framework for dealing with the problem,
and a new federal study to assess the threat posed by cyberterrorists. The bill was
referred to the House Judiciary (subcommittee on Crime) and Commerce
(subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection) committees
on March 15, 2000 where it remains. In April 2000, Sen. Orrin Hatch introduced S.
2448 (Internet Integrity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2000). It was
referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 13, 2000, where it remained until
Oct. 5, 2000 when it was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.
Congress has expressed concern in other ways also. Rep. Stephen Horn, for
instance, recently gave poor grades to the various Executive Branch agencies for
efforts to strengthen and secure government networks.22 Rep. Curt Weldon has
charged the Administration with neglecting the problem of cyberterrorism and cyber
threats to the United States.23
Selected Foreign Views and Activities
This section is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather illustrative of some
of the major actors in the cyberwarfare arena. In general, some hold views
comparable to the United States, including the UK, Germany, and NATO. France,
however, may be an exception, because many observers have concluded that the
See Horn Releases First-Ever Government-Wide Computer Security Evaluation. News
Release. House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology.
Sep. 11, 2000. “Overall, the government earned an average grade of ‘D-‘. More than onequarter of the 24 major federal agencies received a failing ‘F’.”
Rep. Curt Weldon made these remarks in a Keynote address at the InfoWarCon 2000
Convention, September 12, 2000, Washington, DC.
French may see a legitimate role for economic cyberwarfare in the pursuit of national
objectives. Russian rhetoric portrays cyberwarfare as an act of war for which any
response, conventional or with weapons of mass destruction, is deemed justified.
China sees cyberwarfare as a legitimate form of asymmetrical warfare and is preparing
cadres of computer professionals for this task. These views re examined in more
Many Russians argue that the danger of cyberwarfare ranks second only to that
of nuclear war. More than one senior Russian military officer has supported the
from a military point of view, the use of Information Warfare against Russia or
its armed forces will categorically not be considered a non-military phase of a
conflict whether there were casualties or not . . . considering the possible
catastrophic use of strategic information warfare means by an enemy, whether on
economic or state command and control systems, or on the combat potential of the
armed forces . . . Russia retains the right to use nuclear weapons first against the
means and forces of information warfare, and then against the aggressor state
Other Russians see a military role for cyberwarfare activities, where the goal is
for competing sides to gain and hold information advantages over the other. This is
accomplished by using specific information technology capabilities to affect an
adversary’s information systems, decision making processes, command and control
system, and even populace.25 Some Russians believe that after conflict begins,
“combat viruses and other information related weapons can be used as powerful force
More recently, on September 12, 2000, Russian President Vladimir Putin
adopted the Russian Information Security Doctrine, which had been approved earlier
at the June 23 meeting of the Russian Security Council. The new doctrine ostensibly
provides the government with an enhanced legal framework for dealing with computer
crime and assuring security in cyberspace. In another sense, this represents a partial
attempt by Russia to deal with cyber threats it too faces from foreign and domestic
V.I.Tsymbal, “Kontseptsiya ‘Informatsionnoy voyny’”, (Concept of Information Warfare),
speech given at the Russian-U.S. conference on “Evolving post Cold War National Security
Issues,” Moscow 12-14 Sep., 1995 p 7. Cited in Col. Timothy Thomas, “Russian Views on
Information-Based Warfare.” Paper published in a special issue of Airpower Journal, July
Lester W. Grau and Timothy L. Thomas. “A Russian View of Future War: Theory and
Direction,” The Journal of Slavic Military Studies. Issue 9.3 (Sept. 1996), pp. 501-518.
People’s Republic of China (PRC)
China is moving aggressively toward incorporating cyberwarfare into its military
lexicon, organization, training, and doctrine. In fact, if a Revolution in Military
Affairs (RMA) is defined as a significant change in technology taken advantage of by
comparable changes in military training, organization, and doctrine, then perhaps
China of all nations is experiencing a true RMA in cyberspace. Moreover, China’s
warfare development has cause some U.S. military leaders to express concern. For
instance, Gen. Eberhart, who heads U.S. Space Command, said the U.S. military is
concerned about China’s intentions and is worried about China’s developing the
means to carry out computer network attacks.26
The Chinese concept of cyberwarfare incorporates unique Chinese views of
warfare based around the People’s War concept (modern) and the 36 Strategems
(ancient). Both are indigenous views of how to wage war at the strategic,
operational, and tactical level. China also is heavily influenced by Marxist-Leninist
ideology regarding warfare. Much of its approach has to do with an emphasis on
deception, knowledge-style war, and seeking asymmetrical advantages over an
adversary. Cyberwarfare is seen as a “transformation from the mechanized warfare
of the industrial age to . . . a war of decisions and control, a war of knowledge, and
a war of intellect.”27
China is pursuing the concept of a Net Force (battalion size), which would
consist of a strong reserve force of computer experts trained at a number of
universities, academies, and training centers. Several large annual training exercises
have already taken place since 1997. The Chinese have placed significant emphasis
on training younger persons for these tasks.
United Kingdom (UK)
The UK view toward cyberwarfare is similar to that of the United States.
Basically, it notes that information warfare refers to actions affecting others’
information systems while defending one’s own systems in support of national
objectives.28 Furthermore, the UK uses a legal framework based around a number of
existing laws it believes largely can be applied to cyberspace activities.29 This
“U.S. Military Concerned about China’s Cyberwarfare Capabilities: General,” Agence
France Presse, March 28, 2001.
Military Strategic Research Center, Beijing, May 1996.
In June 2000, the UK defined IW as “integrated actions undertaken to influence decision
makers in support of political and military objectives by affecting others information,
information based processes, C2 [command & control], systems, and CIS [critical
infrastructure systems] while exploiting and protecting one’s own information and/or
These include the: Computer Misuse Act (1990), Telecommunications Act (1984).
Telecommunications (Fraud) Act 1987, Obscene Publications Act (1959 and 1964),
Protection of Children Act (1978), Criminal Justice Act (1988), Criminal Justice and Public
suggests that the UK views cyberattacks against individuals and corporations as civil
and criminal issues that can be handled accordingly. More recently, the Regulation
of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIP), would allow the UK government to
intercept and read e-mail, and require decryption of personal files on demand. The
UK government says RIP puts “intrusive investigative techniques on a statutory
footing for the very first time; provides new powers to help combat the threat posed
by rising criminal use of strong encryption; and ensures that there is independent
oversight of the powers in the Act.”30
For the most part, the German perspective toward cyberwarfare is comparable
to that of the United States and the UK.31 It recognizes a legitimate role for offensive
and defensive information warfare in pursuit of national objectives. Germany tends
to be somewhat more systematic than the United States, however. For purposes of
thinking about cyber threats and cyber responses, nation states are considered
separately from non-state actors (such as political activists, international
organizations, and the media), criminals (organized crime, hackers, etc.), and
individual actors (including religious fanatics and special forces).
In two ways, however, German views toward information warfare may differ.
Germany may include management of the media as an element of information warfare.
In addition, Germany may be weighing a rationale for economic cyberwarfare similar
to the French (see below). This may be due to several reasons: Germany has assessed
the potential for economic damage that can be done to German business and
economy; Germany may have experienced significant economic losses to France over
a case involving industrial espionage in cyberspace; and Germany may be seeking
ways to mitigate the consequences of potential cyber attacks.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Reportedly, there is a classified NATO definition of information warfare, but it
is not publicly available. The development of such a definition is noteworthy given
that at a NATO conference in early 2000, 17 different descriptions or definitions of
IW were being used by the individual delegate countries. Generally, however, the
NATO definition is believed to be compatible with the U.S. perspective.
Order Act (1994), Data Protection Acts (1984 and 1998), Theft Acts (1968 and 1978),
Forgery and Counterfeiting Act (1981), Copyright Design and Patents Act (1988), and
Interception of Communications Act (1985).
The German section is taken largely from a paper presented by Andy Jones, The European
Perspective, at the InfoWarCon 2000 Convention, September 11, 2000, Washington, DC.
Much of his analysis was taken from French and German language Web sites.
The French apparently view cyberwarfare as having two main elements: military
and economic (or civil).32 The military concept envisions a somewhat limited role for
cyberwarfare activities. Their military concept sees cyberwarfare activities taking
place largely in the context of low intensity conflict or operations other than war,
undertaken generally within the framework of NATO and the United Nations (and
often under the control of the United States). In this context, allies are not considered
In contrast, the economic or civil concept includes a wider range of potential
cyberwarfare applications. The French view seems to assume a much broader and
deeper basis for conflict in the economic sphere; economic peace does not exist as
much as an environment in which competitors pursue zero-sum market advantages.
The French do not see themselves bound by NATO, UN, or U.S. approval. Their
perspective toward economic conflict allows for one to be both an ally and an
adversary at the same time. The French even have an economic school for
France may also have a different perspective toward monitoring its citizens in
cyberspace. Reports have surfaced that the French have their own version of Echelon
(reportedly a U.S. effort – not officially verified – aimed at intercepting virtually all
private global communications).34 Frenchelon, as some have called it, reportedly is
used to monitor and analyze French communications, especially in the Paris region.35
There is considerable evidence that some non-state actors and anti-government
forces use cyberspace as another tool to wage their fight against various nations. For
example, Mexico’s Zapitista movement uses the World Wide Web to elicit support
for its cause ([http://www.ezln.org]). Afghanistan’s Taliban militia – a movement that
controls most of Afghanistan – maintains a site with a range of material and even
solicits contributions from abroad. Similarly, there is an Internet site Basque National
Liberation Movement (a separatist movement in the region between Spain and France.
There appears to be reasonable evidence available that terrorist organizations use
cyberspace to conduct the business of terrorism. Terrorists use the Internet and the
See [http://www.infoguerre.com] (in French).
See [http://www.ege.eslsca.fr] (in French).
See Richard Best. Project Echelon: U.S. Electronic Surveillance Efforts. CRS Report
RS204444, Mar. 2, 2000.
“Frenchelon, the Large Ears Made
World Wide Web to communicate with each other, recruit members, gather
intelligence, raise money legally and illegally, organize and coordinate activities,
obtain illegal passports and visas, and distribute propaganda. For instance:
! Some Afghan-based terrorists, such as Osama bin-Laden, reportedly have
computers, communications equipment, and large data storage disks for their
! Hamas, a Middle Eastern terrorist organization, reportedly uses Internet chat
rooms and e-mail to plan and coordinate operations in Gaza, the West Bank,
! Hizballah, another Middle Eastern group, manages several Internet Web sites
for propaganda purposes ([http://www.hizbollah.org/]), to describe attacks
against Israel ([http://www.moqawama.org/]), and one for news and
! Government computers reportedly were crashed by terrorist groups during
elections in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Mexico.
! Irish Republican Army (IRA) supporters reportedly leaked sensitive details on
British army bases in Northern Ireland on the Internet. Sinn Fein also
maintains a web site ([http://sinnfein.ie/]).
But is this cyberterrorism? If terrorism is defined as an act of violence designed
to achieve political objectives, do these activities constitute acts of violence? Should
these types of activities more accurately be described as techno-terrorism, the
terrorist’s use of technology, satellite communications, e-mail, and the Internet in their
business? Some observers express concern that terrorists want to bring down the
Internet. But if terrorists rely on the Internet, why would they want to bring it down?
Others, in and out of government, express concern about terrorists targeting power
and communications grids, for example. But Richard Clarke (National Security
Council Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism),
has said several times it does not appear that terrorist groups actually are planning to
use the Internet for these kinds of activities.
So is cyberspace another tool to be exploited by terrorists, and does U.S. and
western reliance on information systems and cyberspace represent a significant
vulnerability awaiting terrorist attack? Currently, there does not appear to be a
consensus answer, although most would agree that attention and resources should be
devoted to this issue given the high stakes.
Challenges and Issues for Congress
Cyberwarfare is an emerging issue of national interest. At this point, however,
a coherent consensus strategy is lacking. Should cyber threats be considered primarily
Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia,: Editor’s Journey to Meet Bin-Laden Described,” London alQuds al-‘Arabi, FBIS-TOT-97-003-L. Nov. 27, 1996, p. 4.
Israel: U.S. Hamas Activists Use Internet to Send Attack Threats,” Tel Aviv IDF Radio,
FBIS-TOT-97-001-L, Oct. 13, 1996.
a domestic or civil responsibility for law enforcement and the judicial system, or are
cyber threats to U.S infrastructure a national security responsibility? In the past,
responsibilities were more easily managed because geography often represented
obstacles to adversaries. Geography is much less an obstacle today.
Another reason a coherent consensus approach may be lacking is due to the
complexity and diversity of the topic and the absence of technological means to
determine unambiguously and in real time where computer or network attacks are
coming from. Without an extensive commitment of time and resources, cyber attacks
are difficult to trace with a high degree of confidence.
But without clear national guidance, issues such as appropriate organization,
responsibility, and funding will likely remain problematic. In light of the fact that the
U.S. response to information capabilities is still evolving, Congress may seek to
determine the scope of executive branch spending for cyberwarfare-related activities,
and further examine whether such levels are sufficient, coordinated, or duplicative.
The government’s conceptual and organizational approach toward cyberwarfare may
be of legislative interest. Congress may also weigh in on whether an individual or
some agency should have primacy in issues dealing with cyberwarfare.
Appendix: Terms & Definitions
For ease of discussion, cyberwarfare in this report is used broadly to mean
warfare waged in cyberspace. It can include defending information and computer
networks, deterring information attacks, as well as denying an adversary’s ability to
do the same. It can include offensive information operations mounted against an
adversary, or even dominating information on the battlefield. Other, more technical
and precise terms are indicated below for reference.
Information Warfare (IW) “involves actions taken to achieve information
superiority by affecting adversary information, information-based processes,
information systems, and computer-based networks while defending one’s own
information, information-based processes, information systems, and computer-based
networks.” (Department of Defense Directive 3600.1) IW is further defined as
Information Operations conducted during time of crisis or conflict to achieve or
promote specific objectives over a specific adversary or adversaries.” (IATAC TR97-002).
Note that some key observers outside of government have defined IW to include
personal and corporate warfare (attacks on individuals or companies by other
individuals or companies).38 Some Europeans tend to share this perspective as well.
Critics charge that “warfare” is not focused on individuals or commercial
organizations. They argue that attacks against individuals are civil or criminal
litigation issues, while attacks against corporations by other companies are acts of
See Winn Schwartau, Information Warfare: Cyberterrorism: Protecting Your Personal
Security in the Electronic Age. New York, NE: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1994, pp. 473-587.
industrial espionage, although they acknowledge that an attack by a government or
terrorist group may in fact be Information Warfare.
Special Information Operations (SIO) are information operations that by their
sensitive nature, due to their potential effect or impact, security requirements, or risk
to national security of the United States, require a special review and approval
process. (Department of Defense Directive 3600.1)
Information Superiority is “that degree of dominance in the information
domain which permits the conduct of operations without effective opposition.”
(Department of Defense Directive 3600.1). It is the capability to collect, process, and
disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while exploiting or denying an
adversary’s ability to do the same.
Information Assurance (IA) is “Information Operations that protect and defend
information systems by ensuring their availability, integrity, authentication,
confidentiality and non-repudiation. This includes providing for restoration of
information systems by incorporating protection, detection and reaction capabilities.”
(Department of Defense Directive 3600.1)
! IA Authentication are security measures “designed to establish the validity
of a transmission, message, or originator, or a mean[s] of verifying an
individual’s authorization to receive specific categories of information.”
(National Telecommunications Information Systems Security Instructions –
NSTISSI – 4009).
! IA Availability refers to timely, reliable access to data and information
services for authorized users. (NSTISSI – 4009)
! IA Confidentiality is assurance that information is not disclosed to
unauthorized persons, processes, or devices. (NSTISSI – 4009)
! IA Integrity is protection against unauthorized modification or destruction of
information. (NSTISSI – 4009)
! IA Nonrepudiation is assurance that the end user of data is provided with
proof of delivery and the recipient is provided with proof of the sender’s
identity, so neither can subsequently deny having processed the data.
(NSTISSI – 4009)
Computer Network Attack (CNA) are operations designed to disrupt, deny,
degrade, or destroy information resident in computers and computer networks, or the
computers or networks themselves. (Department of Defense Directive 3600.1)
Electronic Warfare (EW) is defined as “any military action involving the use
of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to
attack an enemy.” (Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff MOP 6). It is a well-established
component of contemporary combat not necessarily involved with cyberspace. For
a highly useful discussion of EW and other issues, see CRS Report RL30639
(Electronic Warfare: EA-6B Aircraft Modernization and Related Issues for