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Cyber experts explore pros and cons of ‘hacking back’ technique to fight intrusion

Exploring the legal and ethical issues surrounding cyber counter strikes as a technique to combat cyber intrusion among identified adversaries will be the topic of a panel discussion on Tuesday, May 20 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy on the campus of Salve Regina University.

The panel, “Cybersecurity and Cyber Counter Strikes,” will feature renowned experts from the private, public, military, and legal sectors. It is an invitation-only event that is open to media coverage.

These “hacking back” techniques are becoming increasingly appealing to companies that wish to identify and expose hackers, and potentially cripple the operations of cyber attackers. Companies employing these techniques, however, need to consider potential legal exposure and ethical issues, and be mindful that these activities may incite hackers frustrated with such countermeasures to hit even harder.

Expert panelists participating in the discussion will include:

• Joe Provost, CEO of Syncstate;
• Karl Wadensten, President of VIBCO;
• Michael Schmitt, Chairman of the International Law Department at the US Naval War College, and main author of the “Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare” (NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence);
• Col James Bitzes, Staff Judge Advocate of the US Cyber Command; and
• Robert Clark, Distinguished Professor of Law for the US Naval Academy’s Center for Cyber Security.

This panel discussion will review current international and domestic thinking and their relationship to conducting cyber counter strikes against identified adversaries. U.S. laws and articles often do not contain language and definitions regarding the use of a counter strike or fail to completely address the potential of active defense in cyberspace. In addition, these same laws exacerbate the private companies’ ability to actively defend their Intellectual Property (IP) and business interests online with offensive actions.

This panel will explore key offensive cyber operation concepts, domestic and international law implications of active defense, and the Tallinn Manual research in relation to countermeasures. The overall objective is to encourage further analysis of the concept of ‘privatized cyber counter strike’ in order to fully understand how this online activity may influence the future of offensive cyber attack deterrence. Audience members will be encouraged to contribute questions and provide industry perspectives to the discussion.