Agency (“DARPA”), who likened the attacks to “more of a riot than an attack.”62 That is not to say that the U.S. is unconcerned about cyber attacks, indeed quite the opposite is true. It makes little sense for an opponent to challenge the U.S. symmetrically. More likely avenues of challenge are asymmetric ones that exploit potential U.S. vulnerabilities, such as the civilian information infrastructure.63 Defense assessments have laid out myriad challenges including interoperability, information systems security, and the culture of the intelligence community itself. The rate at which information systems are being relied on outstrips the rate at which they are being protected. The time needed to develop and deploy effective defenses in cyberspace is much longer than the time required to develop and mount an attack. At the same time, the DOD is prohibited by law and national policy from retaliating against cyber attacks if the goal was not the deterrence of future attacks. This gap is growing wider. In other words, cyber attack is far easier than cyber defense, and the U.S., like Estonia and all countries in the Information Age, is right to be concerned about the continuing proliferation of these attacks.
In deciding how Estonia, and NATO, ought to respond to these cyber attacks the search for analogies is paramount given that cyber attacks are an unprecedented method of warfare. Some have surmised that the cyber attacks, to the extent that they were incited by Russia, amount to a test for NATO on its defenses to
62 This differential based on the IW capabilities of governments underscores the danger of anticipatory self-defense and a reactive legal regime to deal with cyber attacks. Shaun Waterman, Who cyber smacked Estonia?, United Press International, Jun. 11, 2007.
63 Steven Lambakis, et al., Understanding ‘Asymmetric’ Threats to the United States, National Institute for Public Policy, Sep. 2002 (analyzing asymmetric warfare and taking the position that the concept may be defined as different and challenging threats mired in legal and political constraints and vulnerabilities to new and old threats that are designed to offset U.S. strengths).