Who is not tempted to take justice into their own hands when they are attacked or offended? In the digital world the same thing happens but it is not a good idea and we explain why.
Cyber attacks have a brutal impact in our days. And is that if a hacker hacks our passwords or Anonymous declares war on a portal, the disturbances and losses in terms of time and money are huge. Without going any further, after the Associated Press account on Twitter was hacked with false news, the US stock market plummeted for fear of an attack on the White House.
The consequences of cyber attacks are measured at the state level and the different governments are capable of engaging in a dialectical war for this reason, such as the tense relations between the US and China. But, what’s the use of all this? Once you are the victim of an attack of this kind, you can do very little. Unless you respond to the attack, what would become a digital ‘vendetta’.
Defined vaguely, the ‘back hacking’ involves turning a cybernetic assailant, either stopping or frustrating crime, or recovering the stolen by the same means by which it was stolen in the first place. Obviously, digital revenge is illegal, although, as the experts admit, it is very tempting. Exactly the same as in the real world.
From victim to cybercriminal
Obviating completely the moral questions about taking justice on our own, piracy (whatever its motive or justification) goes against all US regulations (Fraud and Abuse Law), European and Spanish (Criminal Code, privacy laws …). All these laws are very clear when it comes to defining that disturbing or stealing something from other computer equipment is illegal.
“There is no law in the world that allows you to participate in a cyberattack,” explains Ray Aghaian, a partner at McKenna Long & Aldridge, and an attorney at the Department of Justice. “If you attack an attacker, you are in the same boat.”
The only kind of ‘back hacking’ that is considered tolerable is what could be carried out defensively within your own team or network. What is clearly illegal is offensive hacking, which abandons its territory and actively seeks an attacker on the Net.
Counterintelligence ‘as a service’
Even though the companies can not return the play to their attacker, what they can do is learn from what happened and, of course, investigate in depth their aggressors. In that sense, the consultant Gartner sees a potential business of billions of euros in the collection of information about cybercriminals, what they call “counterintelligence ‘as a service”.
Cases of digital ‘vendetta’
Deceleration tactics are the most common and there are providers such as CloudFare that use it regularly. The aim is to attack the attackers’ resources in a mild way so that they are not technically able to take any offensive action temporarily.
But the paradigmatic example of this type of digital revenge is Blue Security, a company that attracted both praise and criticism when it decided to counterattack spammers with its own currency. Thus, this company flooded these people’s systems with spam, preventing them from sending more junk mail. However, the spammers defended and unleashed a series of attacks against Blue Security that finally forced the closure of this company.
Will digital revenge be legalized?
Now that data represents the greatest asset of many companies, the desire to protect that data intensifies and makes offensive measures seem almost a business imperative. Could some form of legal justification be falling? It does not seem that way, but in case digital revenge is legalized one day, proportionality should be the key concept. That is, the ‘back hacking’ can not be worse than the initial attack.
But, today and although the idea of taking cyber justice on our own is very attractive, its risks are still greater than the potential reward.
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