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Cyber Protection and Defense Still Poses Thorny Questions

May 14, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor
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Wrapping up the panels for the first day of East: Joint Warfighting 2013 was a topic that’s on everyone’s mind: cyber. The topic was the militarization of cyber, particularly in a time when networks from military to education to commercial are the victims of enemies at an increasing amount each day. While participants agreed that additional protection and defense is needed, not all concurred on what organization should have the power or responsibility.

Franklin Kramer, former assistant secretary of defense, International Security Affairs, and board director, Atlantic Council, opened the discussion by pointing out that cybersecurity goes beyond protecting and defending U.S. military networks as joint operations take place in host nations, and coalition operations require trust, sharing and security. The increase in attacks on commercial networks within the United States also demonstrates that more network security is required within the country.

While Vice Adm. Herb Browne, USN (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Space Command, agreed on the need for security, he does not believe that it is the role of the military to take on cybersecurity for the nation. Citing that many other organizations already exist to protect government and commercial networks, the admiral argued that the U.S. Defense Department has a big enough job securing its own networks. He agreed, however, with Vice Adm. Robert C. Parker, USCG, commander, Atlantic Area, and commander, Defense Force East, that during crises, the Defense Department is excellent at providing support and vetting other organizations that offer their services.

Maj. Gen. Peter C. Bayer Jr., USA, deputy chief of staff, strategic plans and policy, Supreme Allied Command Transformation, pointed out that militarizing cyberspace would pose particular problems in the international realm. The problems NATO faced as it was determining cyber issues are a good example of the challenges this borderless domain presents. Not all nations are at the same capability level. Information and intelligence sharing is still a touchy subject. Infrastructures can vary greatly from one country to the next. And interoperability continues to vex joint operations much less coalition ones, he pointed out. Despite these challenges, cybersecurity requires a comprehensive approach, and partnering among nations, governments and industries will be required.

East: Joint Warfighting 2013 continues tomorrow at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia, with discussions about coalitions, operating in a new environment, and incremental or radical change.

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