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Should our nation spend more money to safeguard us against nations like China that are reportedly grooming legions of military hackers and striking out at the U.S. and other nations? A new report argues the opposite, saying cyberdefense is confusing and should not be a spending priority. It advocates focusing existing resources on military networks.  (Source: Fox News)
A new study recommends a cautious approach when defending the nation against cyberterrorism

Be ready for both defense and offense.  Cover all routes of attack.  Practice careful surveillance.  All of these would seemingly be logical paradigms for our nation's cybersecurity efforts.  However, a new report takes a different bent and says that the nation shouldn't make cybersecurity its top priority and instead should focus on reallocating limited resources to defence of critical infrastructure.

The new report from the RAND Corporation says that electric power, telephone service, banking, and military command and control in the U.S. are all accessible and able to be attacked from the internet.  That makes them open to attack, according to the report.  RAND's press release describes, "Working against connected but weakly protected computer systems, hackers can steal information, make the systems malfunction by sending them false commands and corrupt the systems with bogus information."

Martin C. Libicki, the report's lead author and senior management scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization, adds, "Adversaries in future wars are likely to go after each other's information systems using computer hacking.  The lessons from traditional warfare cannot be adapted to apply to attacks on computer networks. Cyberspace must be addressed in its own terms."

The report says that estimates of current cyberwarfare damage to our nation aren't consistent and cite anything from several billion yearly to hundreds of billions.

According to the report, military networks should be top priority when it comes to defense, as attacks on military networks are potentially the most potent.  They describe a hypothetical scenario in which an enemy could silence missile defenses of a nation and then pound its critical targets with rockets.

The report says that offensive cyberwarfare is largely useless as it tends to bother, but not generally disarm adversaries.  Further, Libicki warns that cyberattacks are amorphous and determining the identity of attackers is largely guesswork.  Attempts at counterattacks are thus largely futile, according to the report.  States Libicki, "This is not an enterprise where means and ends can be calibrated to one another.  As a result, it is ill-suited for strategic warfare."

Rather than try to target nations or launch counterattacks, the study suggests a focus on diplomatic, economic and prosecutorial efforts against cyber attackers.  However, the report suggest that such efforts not be made a priority in the nation's spending.  Reads the release, "Libicki does not recommend the United States make strategic cyber warfare a priority investment."

Other recent reports have taken a different bent, advocating more funding.  They have argued that the U.S. is woefully unprepared for cyberattack.  They also point to nations like China that are grooming legions of computer-savvy troops to launch cyberstrikes.

The RAND study was federally financed, with the goal of offering independent policy alternatives for the U.S. Air Force.

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Report was printed in China
By honestIT on 10/9/2009 2:21:57 PM , Rating: 5
just FYI

By Alexstarfire on 10/9/2009 2:27:04 PM , Rating: 3
Lol, that makes it all the more hilarious. And I was just coming to say, yea, that sounds like a great idea. How much government and other important data just been let in the wild due to morons? Yea, we should really cut back on spending so that even more information gets loose.

RE: Report was printed in China
By JasonMick on 10/9/2009 2:27:56 PM , Rating: 4
I found it interesting that reading more of RAND's reports on cybersecurity/China, that RAND also suggested that the U.S. would lose a war against China centered around Taiwan.

Interesting stuff, I don't know if I agree with their conclusions, but it's a scary thought. Let's hope we never have to find out if they're right...

RE: Report was printed in China
By HrilL on 10/9/2009 2:51:18 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting story but some how I think this leaves out too much. it assumes that we stick with current tech while the Chinese progress with newer tech. By 2020 we'll have laser weapon systems. possibly even on satellites and on our air craft as well. In the last test Boeing completed they were able to take out many targets within seconds. We also have better missile defense and it is improving rapidly. We'd likely be able to take out their air bases in a short amount of time. Its great that they have hardened hangers but what good are those if you're runway isn't usable?

RAND's reports seem to give false hope to china. These reports seem like false intelligence so we are underestimated.

By StraightCashHomey on 10/10/2009 2:55:12 PM , Rating: 2
And what percentage of your post is speculation?

RE: Report was printed in China
By bangmal on 10/11/09, Rating: 0
By James Wood Carter on 10/9/2009 3:26:23 PM , Rating: 2
RAND has alot of these reports, they are all hypothetical. I think if there is any conflict over Taiwan it would be similar to the Russian-Georgian war. That is ... international commitee sit and watch and perhaps send carriers in the name of aid.
The issue over Taiwan is a battle of oppinions. China and others believes its an internal issue, while others say otherwise. To start a war over this is unnecessary and most definitly cause more problems than solutions.
BTW i think The RAND reports don't seem to explore the possibility of Russian involvemnt. I think Russia won't just sit and watch, it would probably take sides and make the most of it.

RE: Report was printed in China
By kattanna on 10/9/2009 3:42:06 PM , Rating: 2
interesting read. and initially, they could very well "win" the opening rounds if they launched a sneak attack on our bases and ships in the area. that attack would severely cripple us and allow them initial victories.

but then we wouldnt just sit back, it would result in a complete counter attack using all available resources and that would cripple the chinese.

while the chinese army is bigger in pure man power, it is poorly equipped, and most importantly, poorly trained.

RE: Report was printed in China
By StevoLincolnite on 10/9/2009 10:08:35 PM , Rating: 2
Either side would be severely crippled if it came to war, the "Allies" are not a push over, and I believe no one truly wins a war, as there is usually countless innocent deaths on both sides of the fence.

There would also be massive Financial fallout afterwards, which would cause significant harm to most Nations on the planet.

RE: Report was printed in China
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/09, Rating: -1
RE: Report was printed in China
By Moishe on 10/12/2009 4:37:20 PM , Rating: 1
The "western" world could use some good loss and pain to remind us what freedom costs. Having too much money, peace, security lets the next generation grow in a vaccuum.

I don't harbor ill-will toward anyone, but the world is full of evil and it's inevitable, frankly.

RE: Report was printed in China
By bug77 on 10/9/2009 3:40:49 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously now, how do you think you can win against a 2 million, nuclear capable army? Just look at Germany vs Soviet Union.

RE: Report was printed in China
By TOAOCyrus on 10/9/2009 5:04:46 PM , Rating: 3
A large front ground war against china would be suicide but a defensive war where china has to make an amphibious attack greatly reduces their numerical advantage. To safely transport a large force would require complete air and sea dominance. Right now there is no way the Chinese could achieve this but according to this article they might by 2020.

RE: Report was printed in China
By TOAOCyrus on 10/9/2009 5:05:32 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Report was printed in China
By wetwareinterface on 10/9/2009 10:45:17 PM , Rating: 2
amphibious attack?
China has the worlds largest air force with the highest percentage of large planes in it. that translates to roughly half their military being able to parajump into Taiwan which is only 60 miles offshore. you assume the U.S. would be willing to defend Taiwan and further that we'd already have the military presence inside Taiwan to do so. it would literally take all of our combined service's available ground force potential to repel an attack on Taiwan and that's assuming they'd already be in Taiwan. the sad reality is that China would mobilize their military and invade Taiwan and we'd only be able to muster our ready response units in the same timeframe. the problem with this is 75% of our ready response units are already engaged in Iran and Afgansitan. so we'd be able to muster up and have on the way approximately 25,000 troops total in the timeframe China would have to muster and drop 500,000. they'd beat us to Taiwan due to proximity and ability to deploy paratroopers. launch the invasion first, worry about bullets at time of drop and send in beans and bandaids second to troop drop roughly 2 hours later. we couldn't even get there in 4 hours, by that time Taiwan is already Chineese.

RE: Report was printed in China
By MrPoletski on 10/11/2009 8:20:03 PM , Rating: 2
dont forget that the chinese military is not as old and out of date as a lot of poeple think:

Chinese submarine just pops up in the middle of a US carrier group on military exercises. That sub could have sunk the carrier easy and probably a number of its other ships with that level of suprise.

RE: Report was printed in China
By bpurkapi on 10/11/2009 10:27:41 AM , Rating: 3
We would most likely lose due to the fact that Taiwan is not worth starting a war over. We have made our defense of Taiwan so ambiguous that we obviously don't really care too much if China were to attack. In the days of containing communism Taiwan was a big deal, but today we are talking about an island of 23 million that is internationally isolated and in many people's opinions already part of China. This is all very sad, as I live in Taiwan at the moment and really enjoy the people and understand their plight(a long standing impasse due to the Chinese Civil War. The majority of Taiwanese see the nationalist KMT as mainlanders, and the source of the problem...). But to engage China in a war over Taiwan would be far too costly.

RE: Report was printed in China
By ajfink on 10/11/2009 11:08:03 AM , Rating: 2
If Taiwan had the will, they could make a Chinese invasion so bloody they probably wouldn't need our help beyond air support.

RE: Report was printed in China
By Moishe on 10/12/2009 12:22:45 PM , Rating: 1
If we had a spineless, weak-on-war administration we might lose that war. In a conflict with a powerful opponent, you have to have the balls to hit hard and fast. Pussyfooting around will really screw up the chances for a win.

For instance, we are pussyfooting around in Afghanistan right now. In addition, the world's strongest and most influential country (the U.S.) is essentially letting small, weak countries walk all over it (Iran). A big stick is all but useless in the hands of a weak man.

RE: Report was printed in China
By amanojaku on 10/9/2009 2:32:07 PM , Rating: 3
Then China can lead by example and take down the Great Firewall! There's no need to protect a bunch of WoW players. Oh, wait, it's not really supposed to protect anyone, is it?

RE: Report was printed in China
By TSS on 10/9/2009 5:56:00 PM , Rating: 3
It's supposed to protect the internet from those chinese. And it's not doing too bad a job.

In soviet China, connections block you.

RE: Report was printed in China
By MrPoletski on 10/12/2009 5:52:29 AM , Rating: 3
Think of all the poor gold farmers!

RE: Report was printed in China
By bigboxes on 10/9/2009 9:58:06 PM , Rating: 3
Ah, the "grab your ankles" defense strategy.

RE: Report was printed in China
By Moishe on 10/12/2009 4:23:36 PM , Rating: 2
It's popular :)

Meaningless report
By HrilL on 10/9/2009 2:36:41 PM , Rating: 2
This report was a waste of money that could have been spent on defending our networks and getting our own division for cyber attacking. We attached Iraq at the start of our war with them. If there ever is a full scale war again the key to winning will be to take out the other countries communication networks. No communication leads to chaos. Jamming wireless signals taking out satellites will be the first steps in any major fight now days.

RE: Meaningless report
By werfu on 10/9/2009 2:52:50 PM , Rating: 2
If ever an all out war against China happens, you won't care about Internet because if you're still alive, your computer surely won't (say hi to EMPs!)

RE: Meaningless report
By 91TTZ on 10/9/2009 3:16:59 PM , Rating: 1
EMPs have a very short range and won't affect the vast majority of people.

RE: Meaningless report
By dj LiTh on 10/9/2009 3:58:15 PM , Rating: 4
Your wrong. A very small nuclear blast in space (near the planet) or the upper atmosphere of the planet can effectively knock out entire continents with an EMP. Its pretty much why dont test nukes in the upper atmosphere/space (near the planet) anymore.

RE: Meaningless report
By MrPoletski on 10/12/2009 5:43:59 AM , Rating: 2
while you are correct, the chinese would have to get that weapon over the USA if they want to do that. This is impossible without it being noticed.

doing such a thing is likely to get them nuked back.

RE: Meaningless report
By rippleyaliens on 10/9/2009 3:17:24 PM , Rating: 3
Very Meaningless.. Yes the Chinese with subs,missiles, etc.. People always forget that it is not like the USA has the same thing. Worse fact, is Planes/subs/torpedos etc.. Do not win wars.. Tactics, planning, logistics, and more importantly than all of that, is that man on the ground. China has this , that, and whatever.. YET they have -0- means to 1. Move /Deploy that stuff. 2. A 10million man army, yet Only support aircraft to get them there. (that is a big nono). 3. -0- Navy..

The US with all its bumbling, and fumbling.. Has an Elite Air force.. an ELITE naval Air Force, but a very serious Transport and Logistics element, that is just devastating.
That is something no other country on the planet has. Yes even china can get another country, but how long will it take to get someone on the ground and HOLD said country.

Also, something to consider.. IF china attacked Taiwan, Do you just think the rest of the world will just stand by, and bow down??? China unfortunately cannot protect THEIR assets around the globe. First rule 1. BOOM, disrupt their support. Beans, Bullets, Billets. = Their food, their FUEL, and the Means to transport those items. They have 1bill plus people, disruption of that, is soooooo easy to do. So Remember WAR is not just 1:1 fight, but it is Fight Hold, and FEED YOUR TROOPS for extended periods of time, AND DEFEND those capabilities..

RE: Meaningless report
By crystal clear on 10/9/2009 4:42:01 PM , Rating: 1
IF china attacked Taiwan, Do you just think the rest of the world will just stand by, and bow down???

YES they will stand by & bow down !

Anybody succeeded in stopping N.Korea developing/testing its nuclear & missile programmes.

The same applies to Iran.

Russia invades Georgia ?

China still occupies Tibet ?

The list is endless.....fact remains we & the world have outsourced just everything to China.

Just as our economies are dependent on OIL, so are we on China for manufacturing.

Its "made in China" rather than "made in the USA" & we are to be blamed for that.

RE: Meaningless report
By TOAOCyrus on 10/9/2009 5:09:03 PM , Rating: 3
It works both ways dude. The consumer is hurt far less by a boycott then the manufacturer. China's economy is more dependent on us then we are on them.

RE: Meaningless report
By crystal clear on 10/9/09, Rating: 0
RE: Meaningless report
By ClownPuncher on 10/9/2009 7:52:43 PM , Rating: 3
Besides the mass graves full of people who starved to death while their insane leader is sipping cognac? Yea North Korea seems to be doing great. The actually have recipes for root bark soup because there isn't even enough rice.

RE: Meaningless report
By Chocobollz on 10/11/2009 7:23:26 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah but which one do you think is better, a nation with a lot of starving peoples but will go all out in a war or a nation who have a bunch of smart peoples and a lot of technologies but are a bunch of fat asses who only cares about eating their hotdogs? :p

RE: Meaningless report
By Scrogneugneu on 10/11/2009 12:43:18 AM , Rating: 2
China's economy is more dependent on us then we are on them.

Of course.

Remind me what is expected to be the biggest market in the world for the coming decades?

RE: Meaningless report
By AnnihilatorX on 10/9/2009 5:59:17 PM , Rating: 1
IF china attacked Taiwan, Do you just think the rest of the world will just stand by, and bow down???

Yes, certainly. Most world countries do not recognize Taiwan as a free nation and recognise Chinese sovereignty on the region. If China somehow has to 'invade' Taiwan to quench say an uprising, no country except maybe US would even dare to interfere (apart from humanitarian aid), as that would be trespassing internal affairs and a declaration of War.

On top of that, a war with China is too damaging to the US economy. China owns 24% of U.S. treasury securities.

RE: Meaningless report
By Spuke on 10/9/2009 6:59:03 PM , Rating: 2
On top of that, a war with China is too damaging to the US economy. China owns 24% of U.S. treasury securities.
No they do not. They own 24% of the FOREIGN owned treasuries.

RE: Meaningless report
By Kurz on 10/10/2009 7:21:32 PM , Rating: 2
Umm Google that before you say that.

RE: Meaningless report
By Kurz on 10/10/2009 7:23:29 PM , Rating: 2
Umm Google that before you say that.

NM i understand what you are getting at.

RE: Meaningless report
By MrPoletski on 10/12/2009 5:46:31 AM , Rating: 2
not a waste of money, because you know what politicians are like. They'll take this cyber security fear idea and use it to pass a load of spending bills (with their own little earmarks, unrelated policy points and such).

Spending loads of money on cyber defence would be a waste of money, because by the time it has been bought, set up and installed it will be obselete already.

Critical Systems Offline
By HotFoot on 10/9/2009 3:11:31 PM , Rating: 4
Critical systems should be isolated from the internet. Computers controlling the functioning of power generation, etc. have no need to be connected to the internet. It's not that hard to use a separate computer if you want to check your email...

I worked at a site that had two networks - one secure, and one open. The two were not connected by anything more than their power cables. Why wouldn't this be the practice at all places all this spending is trying to protect?

RE: Critical Systems Offline
By MatthiasF on 10/9/2009 3:57:16 PM , Rating: 2
I think that's what the study advocates. Another study also mentioned that linking the power infrastructure by network wasn't worthwhile compared to security risks.

It makes sense that not everything has to be federalized and thrown onto the public network, but with company leaders like Google starting to lobby heavily for more sensitive information to be placed online, who knows what kind of stupid decisions will arrive in the future.

where do I sign up?
By MadMan007 on 10/9/2009 3:55:29 PM , Rating: 5
I want a job as a DT 'writer.' Seems like a cakewalk to plagiarize a news piece almost word for word and phrase for phrase. Seriously, check the original article link.

By WoWCow on 10/9/2009 3:10:35 PM , Rating: 2
Rather than try to target nations or launch counterattacks, the study suggests a focus on diplomatic, economic and prosecutorial efforts against cyber attackers

Didn't the Americans try that and caught no one from China legally?

Honestly, those analysts can't expect no one to attack America; it is by making the position unassailable or the consequences of attacking undesirable that nobody will consider attacking the US.

Considering the debt USA is running in with China, the chance of attack is currently unlikely unless China decides their money investment isn't coming back.

From my perspective, the Chinese military will be the repo man armed with a gun coming after the US in 20 years -_-

RE: Honestly?
By Spuke on 10/9/2009 5:20:05 PM , Rating: 2
From my perspective, the Chinese military will be the repo man armed with a gun coming after the US in 20 years
Then the Japanese will be coming with them because they own just as much of the FOREIGN debt at the Chinese do. There's a distinction to be made here. The Chinese (and the Japanese) own most of the FOREIGN debt, not the TOTAL debt.

Legions of computer-savvy troops?
By Hakuryu on 10/9/2009 3:26:24 PM , Rating: 2
I highly doubt China or any other country is grooming 'legions' of computer savvy troops that could succesfully launch cyber attacks.

I've read articles about Chinese hackers, and to be sure they know their stuff, but these are gangs of younger people, not goverment sponsored troops working in a big room together.

I don't doubt China has people who can launch cyber attacks, but I bet we do also. Hacking isn't something anyone can just learn quickly and all of a sudden be a threat to countries (threat to citizens who open email attachments, don't have a firewall, etc is another story).

Legions? Highly doubtful.

By mindless1 on 10/10/2009 1:30:51 PM , Rating: 2
You write they can't learn it quickly but what if they had formalized education on the topic, enough to use pre-made tools?

wait they did what?
By wiak on 10/10/2009 5:51:41 AM , Rating: 2
Connect world wild web up to nuclear tipped missiles?
are they MAD? :O

RE: wait they did what?
By freethevoices on 10/10/2009 6:32:42 PM , Rating: 2
Or another happy thought ... there are foreign government spies that work in critical parts of our country ... that have access to internal secure networks ... All our nukes are connected together somehow and controlled in a central location. Let’s just hope that there never is a world war again because I'm sure our networks and allot of other things would be hitting the fan ... Hell we only control 20% of Afghanistan and we are fighting insurgents. The best solution would be to focus on fixing our economy and country so we can start buying back and reducing our debts …

We need less cybersecurity.
By vhx on 10/10/2009 7:30:27 PM , Rating: 2
So we can make sure an attack against government computers succeed, whereby hackers gain control of major systems causing havok comparing to 9/11. Once this occurs it will be another excuse to bring forth an era of panic and fear due to our own incompetence. One with a another war with a random country while proposing an internet Patriot Act to screw over the civilian populace.


RE: We need less cybersecurity.
By mindless1 on 10/11/2009 10:57:32 PM , Rating: 2
Since when does "don't spend a lot" mean spend less? Remember it's the gov...

Identify your enemy
By crystal clear on 10/9/09, Rating: 0
RE: Identify your enemy
By Spuke on 10/9/2009 7:01:54 PM , Rating: 3
Those involved in the formation & implementation of cybersecurity policy fail to identify the real enemy.
Yes! Because only YOU would know how to do this properly! LOL! Are you one of those people that stresses out over someone else not doing their job? Even if it has nothing to do with yours?

RE: Identify your enemy
By crystal clear on 10/10/09, Rating: 0
RE: Identify your enemy
By crystal clear on 10/10/09, Rating: 0
By Dfere on 10/12/2009 10:41:13 AM , Rating: 2
Tai Pei is right on China's border. We would never have been able, sincle the 1040's to stop china from occupying it.

The COST to China in Political, Social and Economic terms to do so has always been the prevention. It is getting lesser each year from an economic standpoint.

There is no way China ( as we know it) would have survived if say they invaded Tai-Pei and Tienneman square happened in the same year. Once Tibet and Xijang are not covered by the world so much, and their economy is even more solid, they might.

Then, if we defended Tai-Pei, we'd lose, but China would stll suffer serious short term losses. But China thinks VERY long term.

By hashish2020 on 10/13/2009 3:46:00 AM , Rating: 1
China thinks very long term? Where are you getting this from.

The only thing the Chinese government cares about is economic growth and jobs. Having lived in China, the only thing that keep people from bitching more about their government is how it is doing a decent job keeping job creation and wealth creation high.

Where is much of the capital coming from? TAIWAN, Singapore, Hong Kong and the US

If they invade Taiwan the chaos that ensues and the economic disruption will cause job riots across China.

By scrapsma54 on 10/9/2009 3:18:39 PM , Rating: 2
Instead of making the internet into a hostile Warzone, why aren't people making laws on how to operate on the net instead of attacking users privacy?

By MadMan007 on 10/9/2009 4:00:53 PM , Rating: 2
Now I haven't read the full report but the summaries are oddly contradictory. Section after section they contradict previous conclusions. For example, infrastructure disruption would be devastating so naturally it should be prevented but if it's so devastating shouldn't it be pursued as an offensive weapon as well? Shoot, even in a 'defensive' war you have to go on the offense.

I've got a better idea
By IcePickFreak on 10/9/2009 4:24:18 PM , Rating: 2
How about we urge the government not to spend a lot.(period)

Guess it's too late for that. Also, why would China want to go to war with us? They've got far too much money invested. I suppose if we stay the current course with spendspendspend and the dollar flops, they lose their money they may as well get a military training exercise out of it.

Black Lotus
By Cullinaire on 10/10/2009 9:02:15 PM , Rating: 2
As long as they aren't turning out Black Lotus' en masse, I think we can relax a bit.

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