WASHINGTON – The hacking of Vigilante, which is being considered as Ukraine faces another Russian invasion, is inadvisable and raises broader questions about the ethics and implications of the digital domain, according to the National Security Agency’s director of cybersecurity.

“I will tell you that the idea of ​​civic vigilances joining an attack on a nation-state is unreasonable, isn’t it?” I really think so, “said Rob Joyce of the NSA on May 4 Vanderbilt University Security Summit. “As you said, this is illegal. But it’s also useless, because one of the things we’ve talked about is that we’re trying to get Russia to take into account the ransomware attacks and hacks that come from Russia and are broadcast. “

Hundreds of thousands of volunteers from around the world have reportedly rallied around Ukraine’s call for digital talent and cyber specialists, forming a so-called IT army outside of typical government oversight.

“There will be tasks for everyone”, Mikhail Fedorov, Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, tweeted on February 26th, shortly after the Kremlin’s military machine entered the country. “We continue to fight on the cyber front.

Efforts aimed at crowdsourcing, the effectiveness of which is difficult to assess, are blurring the line between traditional cyber maneuvers by world powers and peripheral advocacy in an increasingly digital ecosystem.

They could also complicate negotiations and de-escalation in times of serious danger.

“This will certainly not facilitate the State Department’s discussions with Russia on ‘you have to hold your people accountable,'” Joyce said Wednesday.

Kevin Mandia, CEO of American cybersecurity firm Mandiantat the same summit, he said that random people who change relations between countries and dictate foreign policy can be dangerous.

“You can’t get the private sector to influence the doctrine between nations,” he said. “You do not make us fight in the air, land and sea without being deputies or part of a force and with a mission agenda and plan.”

The IT Army reminds of volunteers who traveled physically to Ukraine and took up arms, despite the huge risks and warnings from officials. But hacking from home – or at least not from the bombed and besieged places of Ukraine – offers a sense of security that the front lines do not have.

“With regard to the cyber domain, anyone can participate in it and do whatever they want, whether they break the law or not,” Mandy said. “So, yes, gin is out of the bottle in terms of cyberly showing the intent of people who want to support certain programs.”

Asked on 2 March for those who want to take part in the battle in Eastern Europe, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the Biden administration has made it clear to Americans who may be thinking of traveling there not to walk.

“For those who want to help Ukraine and help its people, there are many ways to do this, including by supporting and assisting many non-governmental organizations working to provide humanitarian aid, by providing resources to groups that “They are trying to help Ukraine by standing up for Ukraine and for a peaceful solution to this crisis created by Russia,” he said. “These are the most effective ways that people who want to help can do it.”

Colin Demarest is a reporter for C4ISRNET, where he covers networks and IT. Colin had previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration – namely the development of nuclear weapons and the Cold War cleanup – for a South Carolina daily.


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