Sony Attack Signifies New Twist in Cyber Conflict

The Marshall Institute is pleased to release a new – NEW PAPER

Sony Attack Signifies New Twist in Cyber Conflict

Policy Outlook by Marshall Institute Fellow Eric R. Sterner on the wider wider political and strategic implications of the North Korean cyber attacks against Sony Pictures.

Sterner argues that the attack against Sony Pictures, as well as the recent cyber attack against Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Casino in Las Vegas for an offhand comment Adelson made about Iran, represent a disturbing development in cyber conflict whereby nation-states are now carrying out cyber attacks against private corporations and prominent individuals in order to suppress free speech and expression. Until now these types of attacks had always been carried out by hacktivists. Now that nation-states, with the resources they are able to muster, are carrying out these kinds of operations the strategic and political effect has been chilling, as witnessed by the response of Sony Pictures and movie distributors.

Sterner says: “The cyber attacks on Sony and the Las Vegas Sands Corp … suggest a new twist in cyber conflict. They signify a shift to more politically motivated attacks from states directed at private actors. Their purpose is not just to steal money or secrets, but to suppress the expression of ideas and opinions, if not thinking them … In the past, grass-roots hacktivists have pursued such attacks against corporations and states, but it has been more rare to see states employ them.”

Cyber Studies at Marshall

The Marshall Institute’s Cyber program supports programs and analyses that provide the public with insights into the scientific, technical, and economic aspects of cyber security and privacy issues.

Recent publications include:
•Dictators and Deterrence: Syria’s Assad, Chemical Weapons, and the Threat of U.S. Military Action by Eric Sterner (November 2014)
•Geopolitics and Cyber Power: Why Geography Still Matters by John Sheldon (November 2014)
•Government Overhaul: Long Overdue by William O’Keefe (October 2014)
•Uncle Sam’s Right to Know by Dan Gallington(October 2014)
•Perspectives on Collection, Retention, and Dissemination of Intelligence by Dan Gallington (May 2014)
•Forget Forgetting on the Internet: The Birth and Death of a Right to be Forgotten by Eric Sterner, Institute Fellow (May 2014)
•China, Russia Resume Push for Content Restrictions in Cyberspace by Sterner (May 2014)
•Cuban Twitter: Not as Silly (or Stupid) as it Sounds by Sterner (April 2014)
•America is a Sitting Duck for Cyber Attacks: The Private Sector’s Internet Infrastructure is Very Vulnerable by Dan Gallington, Institute Policy Advisor (April 2014)
•U.S. Failure to Clarify Interests in Cyberspace Weakens Deterrence by Sterner (April 2014)
•Snowden’s Misleading Testimony by Sterner (March 2014)
•The Security vs. Privacy Debate is Over, and Privacy Lost by Sterner (March 2014)
•Stating the Obvious About Surveillance by Gallington (February 2014)
•Crunch Time for Reforming the NSA by Gallington (January 2014)

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