Feds eye warning on other nations' hostile cyber activities
WASHINGTON — The United States, concerned that Iran is behind a string of cyberattacks against banking sites, has considered delivering a formal warning through diplomatic channels but has not pursued the idea out of fears that doing so could escalate hostilities, according to American officials.
At the same time, the officials said, the disruptive activity against the websites has not yet reached a level of harm that would justify a retaliatory strike.
The internal discussion reflects the complex nature of deciding when and how the United States should respond to hostile cyber actions from other nations.
It reflects the pressure the administration is under from banking industry officials, who want to know what amount of pain or damage will justify a government response.
“We don't have a clear view of what are the triggers — and we've asked,” said one industry official who has been involved in discussions with the Obama administration and who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They've just been very coy about it.”
Administration officials say it is difficult and unwise to be too precise about potential responses because they do not want to set red lines that, if crossed, might obligate them to act.
“You're always going to see the government be more cautious and incremental in response to most incidents than the private sector probably would like,” Michael Daniel, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, said recently. “But that's because the risk of misattribution and escalation is real, and we always have to consider the broad foreign policy implications of our actions.”
This much is clear: The last eight months of disruptions to bank websites, caused by efforts to crash servers with torrents of computer traffic, have not been severe enough to trigger a military response, cyber or otherwise.
“Not even close,” said one military official, who was not authorized to speak on the record. “But at some point, does it become a question of the public losing confidence in the banking system? That's one of the questions, among many others, in the discussion of when a threshold is crossed.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 16 killed in China coal mine shaft collapse
- Pakistan coup fails to make finish line as parliament backs Prime Minister Sharif
- Hong Kong protesters to vote
- Iraq: Key town taken from Islamic State
- Barricaded lawmakers fashioned ‘spears’ from flag poles in attack on Canada’s Parliament Hill
- Israelis label relations with U.S. ‘critical,’ lament state of ‘crisis’
- Iran executes woman who claimed man she killed had tried to rape her
- Mussolini’s air raid shelter opens
- Gestapo impostor tricked British fascists, secret files show
- Attack on Egypt army post in Sinai peninsula kills 30 troops
- As oil prices fall, fear rises in Venezuela