Cyber Roundup: Cyberattacks withhout “any sense of restraint,” a draft cybersecurity EO which we “have no need for,” and more Operation Aurora

A survey of today’s cyber news . . .


Lily Kuo reported for Reuters on comments made by Debora Plunkett, the head of the NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate.  According to the article, Ms. Plunkett said that other nations are acting “reckless[ly],” using cyberattacks without “any sense of restraint.”  Ms. Plunkett contrasted these cyberattacks with the Cold War, where there was at least some sense of restraint even though opposing nations worked against each other.

Of course, the U.S. can’t really act with righteous indignation: if you believe the reports, we’re behind a number of “sophisticated offensive cyber operations” that have already been deployed.  Then again, are we acting “recklessly” and without “any sense of restraint” if we employ highly tailored cyberweapons, designed to avoid collateral damage, to stop a rouge nation’s nuclear program?


Jason Miller wrote for on the proposed Obama administration cybersecurity EO.  Remember, when cybersecurity legislation recently failed in the Senate, the Obama administration mulled over the prospect of an EO with substantially the same provisions.  Federal News Radio apparently got a hold of a draft of the EO.

Miller wrote that “[t]he draft EO includes eight sections, including the requirement to develop a way for industry to submit threat and vulnerability data to the government.”  The EO follows the second iteration of Sens. Liberman and Collin’s cybersecurity legislation.  Moreover, the EO requires a cybersecurity council, headed by DHS, to appoint agencies to regulate U.S. critical infrastructure.

Check out the article for a more in-depth look.


In reaction to the news of the draft EO order, Richard Stiennon argued for Forbes that “there is no need for a cybersecurity executive order.”  Stiennon believes that the EO would create a static barrier that hackers and cybercriminals could easily navigate around.  Indeed, “[t]he last thing we need is another hastily designed and open-to-interpretation framework.”  Rather than using an EO, we should note that the IT security industry has adapted and made great gains in threat-based cybersecurity.  Essentially, we should preserve flexibility to ensure that we can respond to a dynamic threat.

Stiennon referenced a  Heritage Foundation blog post by Steven Bucci which made substantially the same argument.


Jim Finkle reported for Reuters on the group behind Operation Aurora, that infamous cyberattack on Google.  According to Finkle, the good folks behind Operation Aurora are back at it, “launch[ing] hundreds of other cyber assaults since [2009]” and “focusing on U.S. defense companies and human rights groups.”  It’s widely assumed that these are China-based hackers.


Politico’s Josh Gerstein explained how the  Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) is set to hear arguments on whether the press and public can get access to records on Bradley Manning’s court martial.

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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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