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Hacking Back Against Cyberterrorists: Could You? Should You?

Defense Against Terrorism Review, (ISSN. 1307-9190) is a peer-reviewed journal published by the NATO Center of Excellence - Defense Against Terrorism, Ankara, Turkey. This article appears in Volume 9.

14 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2018  

Alan Brill

Texas A&M University School of Law; Kroll Cyber Security & Investigations

Jason Smolanoff

Kroll Cybersecurity & Investigations

Date Written: August 18, 2017

Abstract

Cyberterrorists have become adept at using cybertools to modify or deface websites, steal information, and use social media. It is also expected that they will increasingly use the tools and techniques developed and used by cybercriminals, which are widely available. Add to this the nation-state-level tools released by sources like Wikileaks, and it becomes obvious that cyberterrorists are gaining increasingly sophisticated and dangerous weaponry. When an organization – whether that organization is part of a nation’s critical infrastructure or not, and whether that organization is part of a nation’s public or private sector, is attacked, a natural reaction to that attack is a desire to identify the attacker and to launch a counterattack. This desire is no different in the warfighting domain of cyberspace than in the real world. But is it a good idea? Are there differences between this kind of counterattack if carried out by a private sector organization or a government agency? In this article, the authors look at the potential advantages and risks associated with what’s called ‘hacking back’, and conclude that the risk/reward equation can be complex and must be carefully considered before.

Keywords: Cyberterrorism, Hacking back, Cyberwarfare, International Law, Critical Infrastructure

JEL Classification: M48, O32, O33

Suggested Citation

Brill, Alan and Smolanoff, Jason, Hacking Back Against Cyberterrorists: Could You? Should You? (August 18, 2017). Defense Against Terrorism Review, (ISSN. 1307-9190) is a peer-reviewed journal published by the NATO Center of Excellence - Defense Against Terrorism, Ankara, Turkey. This article appears in Volume 9.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3096555

Alan Brill (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States

Kroll Cyber Security & Investigations ( email )

600 Third Avenue
4th Floor
New York, NY 10016
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.kroll.com

Jason Smolanoff

Kroll Cybersecurity & Investigations ( email )

600 Third Avenue
4th Floor
New York, NY 10016
United States

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