CACI's Dr. Jack London on WikiLeaks, the Insider Threat and Defining Cyber War

The New New Internet: Dr. London, can you tell me a little bit about your concerns about WikiLeaks and other whistle-blowing sites?

Dr. Jack London: Well, I think that it's the potential for significant damage to national security affairs. I just happen to know that Secretary Clinton is out talking to the people around the world, I guess certain dignitaries of foreign countries and otherwise about apologizing and the embarrassment of some of the things that have been leaked. I'm not sure that the WikiLeak modus operandi is all that much in the best interest. Certainly from a national security standpoint, it has created a significant challenge to our country and our national security establishment in terms of protecting really what purely are secrets and information and technical capability and so on that needs to be protected. WikiLeaks is a lot of the e-mail correspondents and so on, but the ability to pull down code-breaking, algorithms. For example, I'll just talk at a high level to the aspect of espionage, sabotage.  And then, it's a whole issue of really what constitutes an act of war. We're in a world now, of course, where warfare can be implemented in various ways damaging to cultures and society that doesn't involve kinetic energy, which traditionally has more the definition of combat and war was the kinetic side of things, if you will. And you're dealing with something very new, conceptually and otherwise and, therefore, the statutes and the political arena is sort of, I would say, at a loss or certainly lagging behind the capability of adversaries and those that would be so disposed to do these kinds of things. So, we've got a bit of a catch up issue going on here with all of it. I think that the cybersecurity issue is a huge issue.  I think related there too is that it is a hint of the potential chaos that could be just around the corner, tip of the iceberg, because the same kind of secrets can be divulged. Forget the notion of secrets — let's get in the commercial arena. Proprietary and business–privileged business information, confidential information on a business basis that can be divulged and cause serious interference with a legitimate business enterprise. Start putting up financial records, people's and corporation's financial records out there. I'm not sure that that's in the best interest of society.  In fact, I could argue, if deemed appropriate a pretty serious case in saying it's absolutely against the best interest of society.

The New New Internet: I think that's an aspect that's missing in the discussion on WikiLeaks. It's not just about releasing classified information, like you said, it's about putting intellectual property and business secrets out there.

Dr. Jack London: Sure. I submit that this is a very important issue that needs legislative attention, that needs public dialogue and debate, and I'm under the impression or notion that that's what you're after here is to create a bit of debate of this very important topic. It actually is quite important. You just stop and think what would happen if there was an ability to pull the power grids down through a cyber-warfare capacity or capability. If you start bringing down the power grid, you bring down electricity. You bring down the ability to communicate, the Internet, telephones. I lost power here a couple of weeks ago because of a storm, and I couldn't even turn on the stove. My telephone is electrical in its connectivity. I didn't have a computer. The only thing I had was my cell phone and, of course, the battery–

The New New Internet: The battery died?

Dr. Jack London: Well, it didn't, but if it had, I would have been just up the so-called creek. So, you get the electricity by itself if it can be brought down in a systematic, aggressive, malicious way can quite frankly lead to tragedies all over the place. It's a huge issue.  I support the notion of addressing it in a public debate. I think the United States Congress needs to be more aggressive in addressing it. Certainly, the Department of Defense, Adm. Mullen, and the others, chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary Gates have provided us thoughts about WikiLeaks. I submit the issue stems beyond the implications. Let me rephrase that, Camille. The implications extend beyond–far beyond WikiLeaks.

The New New Internet: What sort of legislation would you like to see?

Dr. Jack London: If I were clairvoyant and had a silver bullet, I would think that there needs to be some discourse around legislation that would create some definitions about what constitutes cyber warfare, what constitutes warfare in that domain, how warfare is distinguished from national security implications, from criminal activity. And I readily would make note of the fact that there undoubtedly would be some distinctions. But, the national security part of this is of course the part that concerns me from my professional position, if you will, and experience causes me considerable concern about it. But, I think there needs to be some expression of reinforcement of the laws pertaining to the illegal disclosure of national secrets along the lines that I was chatting with you here a few minutes ago. I guess my approach on this, Camille, tends to be national security. I've spent my entire life in this field in what I would call sort of the technical side of national security, although, I'm not a technologist. But, the Congress clearly would need to take a look at what I'll call, the commercial indiscretions that could come about from release of banking information, the things that we were talking about, proprietary technologies, patents, formulas, so forth.  Those kinds of things that are truly and legitimately company secrets. Those are private properties and need to be respected, but when you have the technology today that can just pile the stuff on a thumb drive and walk out the door and stick it in another box and spread it around the world. I mean, you got a different kind of a challenge.

The New New Internet: Yes, definitely.

Dr. Jack London: I think that a vigorous debate in this area that would begin to define some of the features that you and I've been discussing here.

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