- By Robert ZeligerRobert Zeliger is News Editor of Foreign Policy.
In a bit of unfortunate timing, the C.I.A.’s website was shut down for a couple of hours yesterday evening in an apparent cyber attack. It was only a week ago that Leon Panetta, the C.I.A.’s outgoing director, warned senators that cyber warfare could be the next big battleground for the United States.
"The next Pearl Harbor we confront could very well be a cyber attack that cripples our power systems, our grid, our security systems, our financial systems, our governmental systems," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing to replace Bob Gates as secretary of defense.
Yesterday’s attack on the C.I.A. was in the form of a denial of service, meaning the hackers flooded the site with requests for access, effectively shutting down the server. While it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of causing crippling damage, it is an embarrassment for the agency and highlights just how vulnerable our cyber infrastructure is.
The hacker group claiming responsibility for the attack calls itself LulzSec and describes itself as "the world’s leaders in high-quality entertainment at your expense." They claimed credit via twitter yesterday with the message: "Tango down – cia.gov-for the lulz."
The group has also claimed responsibility for a string of other high profile attacks in recent weeks on the U.S. Senate, Sony, and PBS.
A U.S. official said it was important to keep in mind the site wasn’t technically "hacked" since the attackers weren’t able to get into the system, but acknowledged the two-hour episode was "annoying."
"These kind of issues can affect any website," the official said. "In this case it was resolved quickly."
John Arquilla earned his degrees in international relations from Rosary College (BA 1975) and Stanford University (MA 1989, PhD 1991). He has been teaching in the special operations program at the United States Naval Postgraduate School since 1993. He also serves as chairman of the Defense Analysis department.
Dr. Arquilla’s teaching interests revolve around the history of irregular warfare, terrorism, and the implications of the information age for society and security.
His books include: Dubious Battles: Aggression, Defeat and the International System (1992); From Troy to Entebbe: Special Operations in Ancient & Modern Times (1996), which was a featured alternate of the Military Book Club; In Athena’s Camp (1997); Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime and Militancy (2001), named a notable book of the year by the American Library Association; The Reagan Imprint: Ideas in American Foreign Policy from the Collapse of Communism to the War on Terror (2006); Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military (2008), which is about defense reform; Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits: How Masters of Irregular Warfare Have Shaped Our World (2011); and Afghan Endgames: Strategy and Policy Choices for America’s Longest War (2012).
Dr. Arquilla is also the author of more than one hundred articles dealing with a wide range of topics in military and security affairs. His work has appeared in the leading academic journals and in general publications like The New York Times, Forbes, Foreign Policy Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Wired and The New Republic. He is best known for his concept of “netwar” (i.e., the distinct manner in which those organized into networks fight). His vision of “swarm tactics” was selected by The New York Times as one of the “big ideas” of 2001; and in recent years Foreign Policy Magazine has listed him among the world’s “top 100 thinkers.”
In terms of policy experience, Dr. Arquilla worked as a consultant to General Norman Schwarzkopf during Operation Desert Storm, as part of a group of RAND analysts assigned to him. During the Kosovo War, he assisted deputy secretary of defense John Hamre on a range of issues in international information strategy. Since the onset of the war on terror, Dr. Arquilla has focused on assisting special operations forces and other units on practical “field problems.” Most recently, he worked for the White House as a member of a small, nonpartisan team of outsiders asked to articulate new directions for American defense policy.| Rational Security |