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AFCEA: Whole-of-Nation Cybersecurity Approach Needed

By George I. Seffers
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The organization’s cyber committee offers solutions for the next administration.


The AFCEA Cyber Committee, which is made up of more than 40 experts in the field, has released a white paper identifying key concerns in the cyber realm and offering recommendations for the incoming administration.

The report, Key Cyber Issues and Recommendations: A Way Forward, identifies three needs in the cyber arena. The first is that the United States must approach cyber in a strategic and international context that incorporates diplomatic, information, military and economic elements of national power.

“Our current situation leaves us in a state of conflicting policy and strategy, with a lack of coordinated preparation and response,” the report warns. “Defining authorities and creating normalized terminology for a whole-of-nation approach will put the country on a stronger footing to address our national security, including economic security.”

The country’s lack of policy regarding what actually constitutes war in cyberspace leaves the nation vulnerable to actions that could impair satellites, electrical infrastructure and warfare systems. That could lead “to everything from strategic military disadvantage to disruption to critical infrastructure, economic loss and even actual loss of life,” the report states. The lack of strategy regarding the role of cyber in statecraft is “glaringly apparent in the context of recent Russian and Chinese activities,” according to the white paper. Those activities, the authors point out, have been as diverse as reported instances of attempting to disrupt the election or to influence global trade policy on steel due to theft of intellectual property.

Trade policy, Internet governance, regulatory schema and military doctrine all play important roles, the report states. Technology innovation also is important, the report states, specifically citing artificial intelligence, data analytics and information governance.

The AFCEA Cyber Committee also stresses the need for an improved and expanded public-private cooperative ecosystem. It points out that the nation’s cybersecurity depends on the successful cooperation between the government and the private sector, which owns the majority of the infrastructure.

The public and private sectors use much of the same technologies and face the same threats. “As a result, the public and private sectors require a common ecosystem that includes common threat indicators and intelligence, vulnerabilities, best practices and information regarding the technologies required to defend the networks of both sectors, consistent with the importance of cybersecurity as an issue of national importance,” the report states.

Lastly, the committee highlights the need to continue developing the U.S. cyber work force. Among other recommendations, it suggests clearly defining the career field in government, civil sector and the military, including paths from entry level to senior executive positions.

The report is authored by Christina Ayiotis, a cyber attorney and consultant; Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, USA (Ret.), who once commanded the U.S. Army Intelligence Center; and Samuel Visner, senior vice president and general manager for cybersecurity and resilience, ICF International.

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