Understanding Cyberattack as an Instrument of U.S. Policy

November 1, 2010
2:50 pm - 4:00 pm
Halligan 111B
Host: Joint Colloq with Fletcher School


Much has been written about the possibility that terrorists or hostile nations might conduct cyberattacks against critical sectors of the U.S. economy. However, the possibility that the United States might conduct its own cyberattacks -- defensively or otherwise -- has received almost no public discussion. Recently, the US National Academies performed a comprehensive unclassified study of the technical, legal, ethical, and policy issues surrounding cyberattack as an instrument of U.S. policy. This talk will provide a framework for understanding this emerging topic and the critical issues that surround it.

Dr. Herbert Lin is chief scientist at the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council of the National Academies, where he has been study director of major projects on public policy and information technology. These studies include a 1996 study on national cryptography policy (Cryptography's Role in Securing the Information Society), a 1991 study on the future of computer science (Computing the Future), a 1999 study of Defense Department systems for command, control, communications, computing, and intelligence (Realizing the Potential of C4I: Fundamental Challenges), a 2000 study on workforce issues in high-technology (Building a Workforce for the Information Economy), a 2002 study on protecting kids from Internet pornography and sexual exploitation (Youth, Pornography, and the Internet), a 2004 study on aspects of the FBI's information technology modernization program (A Review of the FBI's Trilogy IT Modernization Program), a 2005 study on electronic voting (Asking the Right Questions About Electronic Voting), a 2005 study on computational biology (Catalyzing Inquiry at the Interface of Computing and Biology), a 2007 study on privacy and information technology (Engaging Privacy and Information Technology in a Digital Age), a 2007 study on cybersecurity research (Toward a Safer and More Secure Cyberspace), a 2009 study on healthcare informatics (Computational Technology for Effective Health Care: Immediate Steps and Strategic Directions), and a 2009 study on offensive information warfare (Technology, Policy, Law, and Ethics Regarding U.S. Acquisition and Use of Cyberattack Capabilities). Prior to his NRC service, he was a professional staff member and staff scientist for the House Armed Services Committee (1986-1990), where his portfolio included defense policy and arms control issues. He received his doctorate in physics from MIT. Avocationally, he is a longtime folk and swing dancer and a poor magician.