ACI Journal Articles


A Control Measure Framework to Limit Collateral Damage and Propagation of Cyber Weapons

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

USMA Research Unit Affiliation

Army Cyber Institute

Publication Date



With the recognition of cyberspace as a warfighting domain by the U.S. Department of Defense, we anticipate increased use of malicious software as weapons during hostilities between nation-states. Such conflict could occur solely on computer networks, but increasingly will be used in conjunction with traditional kinetic attack, or even to eliminate the need for kinetic attack. In either context, precise targeting and effective limiting of collateral damage from cyber weaponry are desired goals of any nation seeking to comply with the law of war. Since at least the Morris Worm, malicious software found in the wild has frequently contained mechanisms to target effectively, limit propagation, allow self-destruction, and minimize consumption of host resources to prevent detection and damage. This paper surveys major variants of malicious software from 1982 to present and synthesizes the control measures they contain that might limit collateral damage in future cyber weapons. As part of this work, we provide a framework for critical analysis of such measures. Our results indicate that a compelling framework for critical analysis emerges by studying these measures allowing classification of new forms of malware and providing insight into future novel technical mechanisms for limiting collateral damage.

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