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Partners Critical in Cybersecurity

August 15, 2012
By Max Cacas
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"I believe that cybersecurity is a team sport," said Maj. Gen. John Davis, USA, senior military adviser for cyber to the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy), kicking off a discussion on how the military involves coalition partners in its cyberdefense efforts.

Moderating a panel on building cybercapacity with partner nations at the TechNet Land Forces East conference in Baltimore, Gen. Davis told attendees that for some time now, the American military has been doing things like developing and implementing joint training in cyber into the many bilateral and multilateral exercises that the United States participates in every year.

The general said that it is unavoidable that partner nations become involved in U.S. cybersecurity efforts because "cyber events happen very quickly and across multiple organizations."

Maj. Gen. Steven Smith, USA, assistant chief of staff, G-6 U.S. Army Central/3rd Army, and commanding general for the 355th Signal Command, noted that while building relationships with partner nations is an old tradition for the Army, doing so in the cybersecurity and network realm is relatively new. Most of the opportunities to do so, he says, come in the military-to-military situations that Gen. Davis described earlier.

Maj. Gen. Roger Mathews, USA, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, said that even with 70,000 soldiers in uniform, his command still would not have enough troops to fight cyberthreats in a theater that is more than 9,000 miles wide. He added that while they are working hard to build the capacity to work with partner nations, they still have a long way to go.

Brig. Gen. Courtney Carr, ARNG, special assistant to the director, Army National Guard, offered perspective on a different kind of partnership, one in which each state and territory National Guard organization maintains its own network that ties into a network established by the Army National Guard. He said they also work jointly with the Air National Guard and have established international relationships through the efforts of state partners.

Finally, Greg Gardiner, chief architect, government and defense solutions with NetApp, provided yet another partner perspective, this time from industry. Gardiner said effective cybersecurity is a balance among elements of what he called "the heart of the triangle: security, usability, performance."

He stressed the significance of government actions that affect private businesses when it comes to cybersecurity and the need to strike the right balance between regulation and innovation. Given the drive for profits in the business sector, incentives may be the key to sparking cybersecurity innovation, he said, adding that the military needs to "defer and sacrifice customization in order to save money" and to speed up the acquisition process to work in terms of months instead of years.

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