Homeland security calls for cyber-cold war

The US government’s Homeland Security secretary has called for a return to the good old days of the Cold War, at least in cyber space.

Michael Chertoff said that governments should formulate a doctrine to stave off cyberattacks similar to the Cold War-era principle of nuclear deterrence.

He said that there needs to be agreed principles on how to react to sustained cyberattacks on critical national infrastructure,

Speaking at a press conference at RSA Conference Europe, Chertoff said that President Eisenhower’s workshopping exercise Project Solarium gave the theory of deterrence, where rules of the road were clearly understood.

Under those principles, an attack on the US or its allies with a nuclear weapon would be responded to with overwhelming force.

Chertoff said that cyberattacks on critical national infrastructure could put thousands of people at risk.

So countries should be allowed to respond to cyberattacks “with overwhelming force”.

Chertoff admitted that this was a little tricky as an attack by hackers in New Zealand could be easily made to appear like it had come from Russia or China so there was a good chance you would end up cyber nuking the wrong country.

But he said nation states should be able to act against technologies in countries being used as a platform for attack, regardless of whether that country itself is behind the attack.

Chertoff said that one of the tricky problems of the whole cyber-war thing was that politicians had no clue when it came to technology. Some still think digital watches are cutting edge technology.