AFCEA International Chapter News

Cyber Espionage and Future Strategies

The chapter opened up its January virtual luncheon this month to chapter members and attendees, focusing the discussion on the implications of deterrence. Given the recent headlines on the SolarWinds breach, the topic of cyber espionage has escalated to include understanding what it is, where it comes from and how incidents like SolarWinds can be mitigated in the future. Guest speakers Jacquelyn Schneider, Hoover fellow at Stanford University, an affiliate at Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control, and Erica Borghard, resident senior fellow, New American Engagement Initiative - Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, addressed the recent breach in an open dialogue of their thoughts and opinions.

"This was not a cyber attack; it was cyber espionage," explained Schneider. 'When it comes to differentiating between attacks and espionage, it's not just about taking information. There is violence or destruction or harm to people,' said Schneider. Within the civilian information security sector, there seems to be a cultural divide on what foreign policy and domestic policy actions can be taken in response to cyber actions. What SolarWinds illustrates is a better need for collaboration between public and private sectors, Borghard explained. Figuring out how to bridge that gap and communicate with each other is extremely important.

The SolarWinds incident, defined as cyber espionage, suggests that most deterrence efforts will not work, and that realization is a big shift in the U.S. Defense Department strategy.

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