BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo cyberwarfare expert and
ethicist Randall Dipert, PhD, is relieved that in the long-awaited
executive orders on cyberwarfare, President Obama is finally using
cyberattacks and other computer-based operations as part of routine
U.S. espionage against our enemies in other countries.
"Much of this policy is likely to remain classified," Dipert
says, "but at least now we know the U.S. will consider 'all
possible measures' in responding to an attack on vital U.S.
interests, and that such measures will include serious cyber
Dipert, C.S. Peirce Professor of American Philosophy at UB, is a
2011-12 External Fellow of the Stockdale Center at the U.S. Naval
Academy in Annapolis, which studies the ethical and policy
implications of cyberwarfare. In July he will be an invited speaker
at a specialized conference on this topic supported by the UNESCO
Chair in Information and Computer Ethics in collaboration with the
Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship Program. He also will meet
with cyberwar experts at the Center for Emerging Technologies of
National Security and Intelligence at Notre Dame University.
"There is a definite advantage in having, and announcing, our
plans in this regard," says Dipert, who has worked extensively with
cyberwarfare experts here and abroad and has previously expressed
concern over the lack of clear and accepted behavioral expectations
for cyberwarfare, such as are described for conventional warfare by
the Geneva Conventions.
"The new policy will finally put some teeth into U.S. deterrent
strategies," he says, "and China, North Korea -- and other nations
that have launched cyber attacks on U.S. interests -- have been
served notice that we will respond with force, and, if necessary,
with devastating force.
"To date," Dipert says, "these nations have just denied
launching their attacks (although virtually all experts knew they
had done so) and they have not had much to fear by way of
consequences. Not anymore."
He says the policy also serves as a public announcement that the
United States is once more taking the lead in a major and expensive
form of warfare.
"For good or ill, not since the early days of the Cold War have
our Western allies been as dependent on the U.S. as they will be in
this era of cyberwar attacks and skirmishes," Dipert says.
"While all of our allies have increasingly robust
defensive cyber security initiatives, many of them, except
perhaps Israel, have limited offensive capabilities. So it
is clear that the U.S., among the Western powers, will be at the
forefront of developing and employing cyberwarfare capabilities,
especially deterring other nations' cyberattacks."
As for the cost, Dipert says, "Unfortunately it will not be
cheap. An entirely new form of weaponry is evolving at exactly the
time the U.S. has been hoping to reduce defense outlays.
"But ultimately, cyber defenses and weaponry will be cheaper
than aircraft carriers and their flotillas, and not as physically
dangerous," he says, "and we also can hope that our allies will
share, more than they have recently, some of the costs of defending
the industrialized democracies."
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.