Responsible Attribution: A Prerequisite for Accountability

In this new Tallinn Paper, Jeffrey Carr, an internationally recognised author and speaker on cyber conflict, the founder of the Suits and Spooks security forum and the President/CEO of Taia Global, Inc., tries to demystify the perennial cyber security issue – attribution.

Carr distinguishes between amateur attackers on the one hand, and skilled, disciplined, and well-funded actors on the other. With regard to the latter, he lists four factors that significantly complicate attribution. That said, Carr believes that developed states are less likely to target other states’ critical infrastructure such as banking, power, or transportation system because “in today’s global economy, /…/ it would serve more as a collective punishment than anything else.” Therefore, his most likely actors to target critical infrastructure are extremist groups, “and the best way to learn which of those groups may have been responsible post-attack is to already have in place a long-term counter-intelligence campaign of infiltration and the development of trusted contacts with access.”

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