Defense Bill Approves Offensive Cyber Warfare: InformationWeek Government

On Jan. 5th, 2012, J. Nicholas Hoover reported for Information Week on the highly controversial National Defense Authorization Act (the NDAA).  Lost amongst discussions of indefinite detention were some pretty interesting developments for US cyberwarfare.  President Obama has signed the NDAA into law.

First, the NDAA allows the US military to carry out offensive cyber operations "upon the President's direction" and subject to "the law of warfare and the War Powers Resolution."  This isn't necessarily news.  In November of 2011, the DOD was granted the ability to launch offensive cyber-operations in response to hostile acts.  It looks like the NDAA affirms that policy.  Unfortunately, we still don't have cyberwar rules of engagement, a definition of what constitutes a hostile act, or what constitutes an act of war in cyberspace. 

Second, the article notes that the NDAA "sets prescriptions for network defense, sets the stage for an insider threat mitigation program, increases collaboration between the DOD and the Department of Homeland Security, and requires the annual report on the Chinese military to include an analysis of its cyber capabilities."

Third, the SecDef must "acquire more advanced cybersecurity capabilities to discover and isolate successful attacks. . ."

Finally, the article explains that the NDAA will direct an increase in the cyber workforce.

The InformationWeek article does a great analysis of the bill.  Consequently, you can find the actual NDAA bill here.


SecDef Panetta recently talked about the ambiguity behind acts of war in cyberspace.  In an interview for 60 Minutes (which can be found on the CBS website), SecDef Panetta said:

"What constitutes an act of war when it comes to cyber warfare?  Countries use cyber war as a way to exploit information.  I think the Chinese use it as a way to gain information in the business area.  But if a cyber effort were made that, in fact, crippled this country . . . does this constitute an act of war?"

The CBS website notes that SecDef Panetta will be on "Face the Nation" this Sunday.

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


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