Pentagon Releases New Cybersecurity Strategy

By Erin Harrison July 14, 2011

Failing to keep pace with increasing cybersecurity threats, the U.S. federal government will put into action a new cybersecurity strategy. Officials released an unclassified version of the strategy today.

In a press conference on July 14, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III told reporters a growing risk of terrorist groups and rogue states developing similar capabilities has pushed for the need to strengthen the nation’s cyber defenses.

Lynn pointed out that cyber threats have the potential to quickly target the U.S., given that advanced capabilities are all run through IT, according to the Department of Defense.

Attacks in cyberspace are hard to trace to the source, which makes retaliation an ineffective strategy, Lynn said, noting that DOD’s approach is to “harden defenses and reduce incentives for attacks.”

“All of the advanced capabilities we have, whether it’s targeting or navigation or communication … have a backbone that’s run through information technology,” he said. “So if you’re a smart adversary and you’re seeking an asymmetric way to come at the United States, cyber will appear to you very, very quickly.”

The DOD’s strategy outlines five initiatives, which are:

  1. Treat cyberspace as an operational domain to organize, train, and equip so that DoD can take full advantage of cyberspace’s potential.  
  2. Employ new defense operating concepts to protect DoD networks and systems. 
  3. Partner with other U.S. government departments and agencies and the private sector to enable a whole-of-government cybersecurity strategy. 
  4. Build robust relationships with U.S. allies and international partners to strengthen collective cybersecurity.
  5. Leverage the nation’s ingenuity through an exceptional cyber workforce and rapid technological innovation.

 The report also acknowledges “foreign cyberspace operations against U.S. public and private sector systems are increasing in number and sophistication.The Pentagon is reportedly developing more resilient computer networks so the military can continue to operate if critical systems are breached or taken down, according to the Associated Press. 

 The U.S. government’s new cyberspace strategy comes on the heels of the revelation that some software and hardware components being imported into the U.S. are deliberately being infected with spyware and malware, TechZone reported.

Acting Deputy Undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Protection and Programs Directorate Greg Schaffer told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this week that he has uncovered “specific occasions” when such potential “espionage” activity has occurred.

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Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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