TABLE 2.1 A Comparison of Key Characteristics of Cyberattack Versus Kinetic Attack

 

Kinetic Attack

Cyberattack

Effects of significance

Direct effects usually more important than indirect effects

Indirect effects usually more important than direct effects

Reversibility of direct effects

Low, entails reconstruction or rebuilding that may be time-consuming

Often highly reversible on a short time scale

Acquisition cost for weapons

Largely in procurement

Largely in research and development

Availability of base technologies

Restricted in many cases

Widespread in most cases

Intelligence requirements for successful use

Usually smaller than those required for cyberattack

Usually high compared to kinetic weapons

Uncertainties in planning

Usually smaller than those involved in cyberattack

Usually high compared to kinetic weapons

2.1
IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTICS OF CYBERATTACK AND CYBEREXPLOITATION

For purposes of this report, cyberattack refers to the use of deliberate actions—perhaps over an extended period of time—to alter, disrupt, deceive, degrade, or destroy adversary computer systems or networks or the information and/or programs resident in or transiting these systems or networks. Several characteristics of weapons for cyberattack are worthy of note:

  • The indirect effects of such weapons are almost always more consequential than the direct effects of the attack. (Direct or immediate effects are effects on the computer system or network attacked. Indirect or follow-on effects are effects on the systems and/or devices that the attacked computer system or network controls or interacts with, or on the people that use or rely on the attacked computer system or network.) That is, the computer or network attacked is much less relevant than the systems controlled by the targeted computer or network or the decision making that depends on the information contained in or processed by the targeted computer or network, and indeed the indirect effect is often the primary purpose of the attack. Furthermore, the scale of damage of a cyberattack can span an enormous range.



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