Original Creator: Jack Goldsmith and a Berkman Center Cybersecurity Team
Cyber-Attack v. Cyber-Exploitation. This is a fundamental distinction throughout cybersecurity that has important legal, policy, and jurisdictional implications. A cyber-attack is an act that disrupts, denies, degrades, or destroys information on a computer network or related system. Examples include the manipulation or destruction of data or code on a computer system to control or shut down an electricity grid, or to disrupt military communications, or to render banking data unreliable. A cyber-exploitation is the act of monitoring and related espionage on computer systems, as well as the copying (and thus theft) of data on these systems. In contrast to a cyber-attack, cyber-exploitation does not seek to affect the normal functioning of the computer or network from the perspective of the user. Examples of cyber-exploitation include stolen military secrets, intellectual property, and credit card numbers.