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Pentagon Official Examines Law in Cyberspace Operations

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2013 – “Bad actors” engaging in malware and espionage may lurk in cyberspace, but the law remains paramount to the Defense Department, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy said during a panel discussion at Georgetown University here today.

The Georgetown University Institute for Law, Science and Global Security and the Atlantic Council hosted the International Engagement on Cyber, where Eric Rosenbach discussed how the centuries-old Law of Armed Conflict applies to potential conduct of operations in cyberspace.

“Law, norms and respect for the principles we have for the international community are very important, not just to the Department of Defense, but to the government,” Rosenbach said.

He noted DOD’s year-long development of a recent policy directive focusing on the Law of Armed Conflict and clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. government as it relates to domestic cybersecurity.

“The roles and responsibilities are now much more set in the United States, and it makes us better,” Rosenbach said.

But he warned against overstating the militarization of the Internet, specifically that DOD or the National Security Agency has had a leading role in domestic cybersecurity.

“We have a role in national security, … a very limited role when it comes to cybersecurity, which is a ‘defend-the-nation’ mission,” he said. “We’re very supportive of the Department of Homeland Security as the lead for domestic cybersecurity working closely with the FBI, who is the lead on national security operations for the cyber environment.” The understanding of these roles is critical in light of recent bank and broadcast cyberattacks in South Korea and separate cyberattacks against gas pipeline companies, he added.

Rosenbach also cited the perils of bad actors in the business of pornography, denial-of-service attacks, organized crime, domestic surveillance and infringement on freedom of information.

“I’m kept awake at night by the idea that these bad actors, if they want, could go on the black market, get destructive malware and … ramp up their capability very quickly in a way that could catch us or our allies and friends off guard,” Rosenbach said.


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Eric Rosenbach

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Special Report: Cybersecurity

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