Policy Official Notes Cybersecurity Challenges

Policy Official Notes Cybersecurity Challenges
Policy Official Notes Cybersecurity Challenges 

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
May 12, 2010

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2010 - Putting cybersecurity in place poses 
significant challenges for the Defense Department, the government as a 
whole and for critical infrastructure, the principal deputy assistant 
secretary of defense for policy said today.

James N. Miller, said cybersecurity "is not a glass half full/glass half 
empty story."

"There is a glass," he said. "It has some water in it. The water is 
dirty, and we have an insatiable thirst in this area."

The issue has the attention of all defense leaders, and progress is 
being made, Miller said. Confirmation of Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander 
to receive his fourth star and serve as the first chief of U.S. Cyber 
Command is a positive step, he added. The command will stand up shortly 
under U.S. Strategic Command.

Meanwhile, Miller said, the U.S. government is working on a 
cybersecurity strategy that's expected to be out soon. That strategy, he 
said, must be flexible to address the diverse and growing threats of the 

The challenges are immense, Miller said. "We don't really understand the 
nature of the threat that we face," he noted. But one thing that is 
clear, he said, is that the Defense Department relies heavily on 
information technology, and enemies, criminal gangs and hackers are 
stealing terabytes of information from The Defense Department and the 
rest of the government.

The Defense Department alone has about 15,000 networks, with millions of 
users in 88 countries.

Another threat comes from outright attacks, Miller said, including 
denial-of-service attacks, viruses and worms.

"Over the past decade, we have seen the frequency and sophistication of 
intrusions into our networks increased," he said. "Our networks are 
scanned thousands of times an hour."

More than 100 foreign intelligence services are trying to get into 
Defense Department systems, Miller added, and some foreign militaries 
are developing offensive cyber capabilities. Knowing who is delivering 
them is extremely difficult to pin down, he said, and foes will confront 
the United States using these cheap, asymmetric tools.

"The linkages between intelligence, offense and defense are particularly 
important in cyber operations," Miller said. "The ability to repel 
attackers is closely tied to the ability to identify them."

Cyber Command will have three core missions: defense of the military 
networks, supporting on-going military operations and planning for 
future operations, and supporting civilian efforts, as directed. 
Alexander will remain as director of the National Security Agency as he 
takes on leadership of Cyber Command.

Much basic work remains to be done in the cybersecurity effort, Miller 
said, including determining when a cyber event becomes an attack covered 
by the law of armed conflict. "At what point does it rise to such a 
level that it becomes an act of aggression?" he asked. "Those are legal 
questions and policy questions we are trying to address."

Miller said there is a world of difference between cyber espionage and 
acts meant to degrade U.S. networks or to input false data into those 

"There is no way we are going to fully defend against cyber espionage,"
Miller said. "And we understand that not everything that happens in 
cyberspace is an act of war. As we think of the role of cyberspace in 
supporting military operations, and the role of cyber attacks as - the 
front-end of a kinetic military attack, then we would think about the 
potential for responses that are not limited to the cyber domain."

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