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.
All cyber-operations – both attacks, and exploitations – requires three things: a vulnerability, access to the vulnerability, and a payload.
The very basic reason why computer systems are vulnerable is that offense (both cyber-attack and cyber-exploitation) beats defense.
Many cybersecurity problems are at bottom problems about misaligned incentives.
This section provides an economic perspective on why cybersecurity is hard and on why (if at all) there is underinvestment in cybersecurity.
A fundamental difficulty with regulating cybersecurity is the “attribution problem” of identifying the author of a cyber attack or cyber exploitation.
Attribution on the Internet can mean the owner of the machine, the physical location of the machine, or the individual who is actually responsible for the actions. This paper teases apart the attribution problems in order to determine under which circumstances which types of attribution would actually be useful.