Tags: cybersecurity | cyber attack | capabilities | department of defense

Politico: US Strategic Goals for Cyber Offense Powerful, But Mysterious

Politico: US Strategic Goals for Cyber Offense Powerful, But Mysterious
(AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 09 December 2015 08:48 AM

The United States has the most powerful cyber arsenal in the world, however as cybersecurity forces have significantly grown since 2013, Politico reports that it remains unclear as to what the cyber attack capabilities are or when the Department of Defense plans to use them.

The topic of cyber-attacks came to fruition in 2010 after Stuxnet was launched, the computer virus engineered to attack Iran's nuclear reactors and believed to be a collaborative effort between the U.S. and Israel.

While little is known of Stuxnet's origins, it remains unclear as to what the U.S. government is doing to attack in the cyber-realm.

However, as cybersecurity forces have grown from 10 teams in 2013 to 32 teams as of October, the DOD released a 32-page document outlining its strategic goals for U.S. cyber offense.

"If you know much about it, [cyber is] very easy to defend against," said Michael Daniel, a special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator at the National Security Council.

But, critics of the 32-page document still have unanswered questions regarding cyber-attacks, including "how, when and where the government will use these capabilities," Politico reports.

"How do you think about things like proportionality, which is a key term in the rules of war? How do you think about that in the cyber realm? In place of those norms and definitions you've just got a series of endless question marks. That's a dangerous world because uncertainty in this world equals risk," said Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., the ranking member of the House Intelligence subcommittee on NSA and Cybersecurity.

Forty-one cyber security teams are expected to be put into action by next summer, but the DOD's mission is to create 133 cyber mission teams overall, and create four new joint headquarters, including the current headquarters in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

"I think the policy that goes along with the employment of cyber is still in its early stakes," said Gen. Keith Alexander, the former head of the National Security Agency. 

"If someone is attacking our infrastructure and they're doing it at network speed, Cyber Command should probably defend the nation," he said. But, he added, "We haven't gotten, in my opinion, to that point yet. But I think they're getting close. The reason is people don't understand how bad cyber can be."

While many seniors in the political world are not rehearsed in the extent of the technology,  Daniel added, "We are still, as are all governments, thinking through how do you actually employ these capabilities in a way that make sense and how do you fit them into your larger strategic context."

And, with lack of specific rules of engagement in the case of a cyber-attack, many experts, according to Politico, believe that at this point the U.S. will improvise its attack back.

"If there were a cyber incident in the United States, we'd do it from scratch," said Martin Libicki, a senior scientist and cyberwarfare expert at the RAND Corporation. "I don't care what's been written. That's just the nature of the beast."

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The United States has the most powerful cyber arsenal in the world, however as cybersecurity forces have significantly grown since 2013, Politico reports that it remains unclear as to what the cyber attack capabilities are or when the Department of Defense plans to use them.
cybersecurity, cyber attack, capabilities, department of defense
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2015-48-09
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 08:48 AM
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