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Defense Must Focus on Where Not to Spend Money

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
E-mail About the Author

Cuts will continue, so priorities must be assessed using risk math.

Defense spending must shift its outlook away from what it needs and toward where it can afford not to spend money, according to a Navy information technology executive. Terry Halvorsen, Department of the Navy chief information officer, told the breakfast audience at the final day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, that the department must become more outcome focused and determine the risk of not doing something.

“The number one question in the Pentagon today is, ‘What am I not going to spend money on?’” Halvorsen stated.

“The money is not going to get better anytime soon,” he added. “It’s a pretty good bet that the money will get worse across the board.”

Calling it cyber economics, or risk math, Halvorsen said this approach will require establishing a balance around cost, mission and security. Halvorsen emphasized that information security must be weighed against cost and risk. “I don’t like the word security; I prefer risk—because it is a risk equation,” he declared.

He added that, in the commercial sector, security has become much closer to the bottom line. Companies are taking a closer look at their information security in light of recent incidents.

Above all, security must be geared toward the goal of serving the warfighter. “We always talk about protecting the network, but really we have to protect the force in the mission,” he pointed out.

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