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Law360: Biden Admin. To Weigh Risk Of Unleashing Cyberweapons

February 08, 2021

O’Melveny data security and privacy counsel John Dermody spoke with Law360 about the delicate nature of managing cyberweapons, how to mitigate the damage caused by cyber-attacks, and the ambitious plans to do both set forth by the Biden administration. “President Joe Biden has pledged to respond with force to hacking campaigns carried out by the country’s enemies, but his administration may want to proceed with caution given the risks of launching weapons into the digital ecosystem,” the publication wrote.

US officials can still take offensive actions against the country’s adversaries in cyberspace without exposing the type of security flaws that are likely to be repurposed against US entities, said Dermody, former attorney at the US National Security Council, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense. For example, the US Cyber Command, the Defense Department division tasked with cyberspace operations, took steps to knock a Russian disinformation “troll farm” offline in the days before the 2020 election.

“Just as there are a diversity of tools available to the more conventional military, there are also a diversity of cyber tools available to the government,” Dermody said. “It will be worth watching how much time and resources are spent on cyber activities that meet the definition of ‘offensive cyber operations’ and might jam up criminal networks without having the type of destructive effects that you might see in other areas.”

Law360 subscribers can read the full article here.