There is a great deal of ambiguity in cyber-attacks, which entices states, non-state actors and criminal organizations to exploit them for their benefit. Not only are they cost effective, but they offer a substantial degree of plausible deniability. A typical paradigm that is often witnessed in international relations now is when the U.S. discovers forensic computer evidence linking various hacking attempts against U.S. networks to computers based, for example, in China. Operating under the assumption that China enjoys an authoritative role over its citizens, the U.S. can logically draw the conclusion that China must have sanctioned the cyber-attacks against the United States. However, this does not prove guilt as it is extremely easy for skilled hackers to misdirect suspicion by launching attacks via hijacked computers from known adversaries of the U.S. Conveniently enough, adversaries of the U.S., such as China and Russia, can exploit the same argument to cover their own cyber-attacks against the U.S.
This paradigm has enabled adversaries of the U.S. to sidestep the military supremacy of the U.S and conduct asymmetric cyber-attacks against the less secured private sector of America. Adopting this approach nullifies the ability of the U.S. to respond militarily as there is no definitive redline that an adversary cannot cross in which military action would be warranted. As a result of this nexus, the private and public networked sectors have become the new front line of twenty-first century warfare (Adams, 2001). As the U.S. entered into the twenty-first century, it became clear that the lack of a U.S. cyber strategy would only exacerbate the persistent threats to the private sector, the nervous system of the U.S. economy, and the threat it presented to the information technologies that have defined contemporary U.S. military supremacy.
As stated previously, modern infrastructure is so interdependent on information technologies that it has become a defining characteristic of contemporary life and arguably the nervous system of both the U.S. economy and military. The rate in which cyberspace has invaded virtually every aspect of daily life has been extraordinary. From 2000 to 2010, global internet usage increased from 360 million to over 2 billion people (QDR, 2010). This rate of expansion has largely outpaced the rate of much needed cybersecurity efforts. This disparity initially created a large gap between the United States’ level of dependency on cyberspace or information technologies and its level of cybersecurity. As a result, foreign nations and non-state actors have worked persistently to exploit this capabilities gap by attempting and sometimes gaining access to both classified and unclassified networks, to include the Department of Defense (DOD) networks.
Comparative to civilian growth in cyber dependency the United States’ DOD has also found itself completely dependent on cyber technologies as well. DOD currently operates over...