The Criticality of Attribution in Volatile Situations

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rafal Los


My good friend and colleague Will Gragido ran our first ever year-end wrap-up podcast the recently and one of the topics we covered was attribution and how critical and difficult it was in the era of the Internet. 

Now, attribution is the process of properly attributing (which is defined as to regard as resulting from a specified cause) some event to its proper cause - and I mention all of this because in a world where sometimes we feel like we live in a powder keg ready to explode at any moment - attribution becomes the linchpin which holds things in the balance.

So why am I writing on attribution?  It's because I recently caught this story in The Telegraph about the suicide bombings in Damascus, Syria. 

With a terrible loss of life in a country and region that is already on the brink of civil war - one hacked website could be the spark that sets it all off.  Think about it.

Consider that almost every radical group, cause and militia has some kind of web page or website stating their cases and taking responsibility for their transgressions and acts. 

Imagine, or just read the news, a situation where someone can cause severe loss of life or some other type of catastrophe then hack into a radical group's website and have them falsely claim responsibility. 

Whether it's the building tensions in Russia, the unrest in Syria, Egypt or right here at home in the United States - these types of situations aren't just James Bond anymore.

It's almost easy to imagine a situation where an inflammatory physical, kinetic act causing severe loss of life is falsely attributed to a group of people or a nation state, and because of the situation human nature takes over and so do our pre-dispositions.

So with a hacked website, assigning responsibility even when it's false is all the "evidence" we need to go to war or retaliate...

Attribution has never been more important, as has temperance... 

Security tends to underpin much of our daily lives whether we think about it or not, and the professionals that keep the sparks out of the room of explosive powder rarely get the mention and recognition they deserve unless they've failed us somehow - so take this time to be safe, think twice, and take extreme care with attribution - the peace of the world could depend on it.

Cross-posted from Following the White Rabbit

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Krypt3ia I have been banging on this fact for some time. Since the DoD said that they were thinking about reciprocity with kinetic attacks against those who they "percieved" to have attacked US systems.

The unfortunate thing is I have not heard them talk about attribution all that much...

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