Is the US legal system an effective cyber deterrent?
On the heels of the U.S. indictment of seven Russian intelligence agents for hacking a number of organizations, including anti-doping agencies, some have asked whether this tactic is effective as a cyber deterrent. It is extremely unlikely that any of the indicted will see a U.S. jail, so why would it curtail hacking activities? Responding to this question, a U.S. district attorney noted that the tactic functions as a deterrent “even if we can’t put our hands on the defendants at this time…number one, they are limited from traveling because they know if they travel in countries with which we have extradition that they will be sent to the United States and they will be held accountable.” Another cyber expert emphasized that the hackers “were conducting close-access ops against hard targets requiring travel. They won’t be able to do that anymore.” Another expert at Stanford’s Hoover Institution argued that while one cannot know exactly what the impact would be, making it personal, “such that someone’s career and their financial livelihood or the special benefits their family gets in certain countries are no longer available to them,” would likely change the decision-making of other talented hackers considering the same career path.