The time for passive cyber defense has passed, and the military must become more active in defending its assets against cyber attack. That approach was endorsed by several high-ranking officers in the Thursday panel at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010. Rear Adm. William E. Leigher, USN, deputy commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet, noted that cyber predominantly is a defensive domain. In the 1990s, a structure was set up in which a computer emergency response team waits for something to happen, then patches it and waits for the next incident to happen. "Can you imagine doing ASW [antisubmarine warfare] that way?" he suggested. "We have not ever demonstrated the inherent right of self defense in cyberspace," the admiral declared.
TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010
A huge chasm exists between cyber operators and the technical community, declared Brig Gen. Brett Williams, USAF, Pacific Command J-6. Both sides must learn the other's language if operators are to receive the systems that they actually need, he offered. Speaking in the Thursday panel at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010, Gen. Williams related that operators often do not understand the technical language of the systems that are being designed for them. As a result, they are not able to effectively input design advice, and often are faced with the challenge of adapting a system to suit their needs. Conversely, technicians often do not fully understand operators' needs, he added.
One key to securing cyberspace may be to simplify its processes and architectures. The newly formed U.S. Cyber Command is taking that approach in configuring its own information systems. Rear Adm. David Glenn, USCG, U.S. Cyber Command J-6, told the Thursday breakfast audience at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010 that all elements of cyber are potential attack surfaces. He characterized these elements as the geographic layer; the physical network layer; the logical network layer (where the 1s and 0s reside); the cyber persona layer; and the persona layer. "We need to simplify GIG [Global Information Grid] architecture, reduce and simplify our networks, and reduce the hundreds of security enclaves down to one," he said. Adm.
The United States can attain supremacy in cyberspace despite the advantages seemingly held by malevolent organizations and nations, noted an expert in a TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010 panel on warfighters. Randall Cieslak, chief information officer, U.S. Pacific Command, told the afternoon panel audience that adversaries are neither 10 feet tall nor invincible. The United States can achieve cyber supremacy in the same manner that it has air supremacy if it adopts the correct approaches to cyberspace. "We can achieve supremacy in cyberspace. We have it in SIPRNET [secret Internet protocol router network]," Cieslak stated.
A devastating terror attack that would cripple the United States could happen as soon as tomorrow. However, unlike the events of 9/11, this attack would take place in cyberspace and involve accounting figures, not any physical plant. That gloomy assessment was offered by Adm. Mike McConnell, USN (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former director of national intelligence (DNI). Giving the Wednesday plenary address at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010, Adm. McConnell shared with the audience how his concerns over the vulnerability of the banking sector date back to when he was named DNI by then-President George W. Bush. Putting the threat in perspective, Adm.
It is time for the services to get rid of their network operation and support centers, or NOSCs, according to a high-ranking Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) official. Maj. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., USAF, vice director, DISA, called for the end of service NOSCs as part of DISA's effort to eliminate stovepipes. "We must get rid of service NOSCs; they are hindering our capability," Gen. Hawkins said in his Wednesday morning breakfast address at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He added that he believes that any combatant command J-6 will say the same thing. Gen. Hawkins also called for the elimination of the term "network centric," saying it was obsolete.
The United States may need to develop weapons for cyberspace as it does for land, sea and air, according to an industry expert. Richard Holzer, director of information assurance, Army Enterprise IT Solutions Sector, General Dynamics Information Technology, told a Wednesday morning panel audience at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010 that the military must develop advanced cyber weapons that do not exist today. Holzer noted that many similarities exist between the cyber security world and the real world. Many of the same techniques used in battlefield management can be applied to cyberspace. However, there are differences between the two, and those differences can, and must, be exploited.
Securing cyberspace first requires knowing exactly what it is. That may seem logical, but the nation still lacks a precise definition of cyberspace, and that definition may be vital to make necessary changes in that realm. Marcus H. Sachs, executive director of government affairs for national security and cyber policy, Verizon, told the Wednesday morning panel audience at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010 that cyberspace is the one basic operational environment that is man-made. Land, sea and air cannot be altered substantially; however, people built cyberspace and people can alter it to suit their needs. Unfortunately, he said, people seem all too willing just to accept cyberspace as it is without addressing their concerns.
The relationship between China and the United States is far more likely to prosper than deteriorate, according to an expert from the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. Former ambassador Charlie Salmon, foreign policy advisor with the center, offers that the relationship probably will remain basically stable and mutually beneficial. Speaking at a panel discussion at TechNet Asia-Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, Salmon offered that China has no reason to adopt game-changing strategies with regard to U.S. military power in Pacific. China has too many challenges at home to risk upsetting the regional security status quo.
India faces a more significant challenge from home-grown extremists than from external sources, said an expert from India with the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. Shyamsunder Tekwani, an associate professor for counterterrorism, international security, media and conflict, went so far to say that the worst group is neither Muslim nor Maoist but instead Hindu. Tekwani told a TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010 panel audience that Hindu fundamentalists pose a greater threat to India than Muslim extremism exported from Pakistan. Many Muslim attacks in India are a direct response to what Hindu extremists have done to Muslims in India, he declared. The Maoist threat comes from the native Naxalite movement.
The aggression recently shown by North Korea against South Korea may be just the start of a dangerous period with that rogue nation. North Korea has begun a leadership transition that, if history is any judge, could be violent and destructive for its neighbors and adversaries. Adm. Robert F. Willard, USN, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, told an audience at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010 that the transition from Kim Jong-Il to his son Kim Jong-Un will be happening much more quickly than the transition that brought the elder Kim to power.
Cyberspace is the key to successful military operations, and leaders are not focusing on the right aspects to secure it from adversaries, according to a U.S. Navy fleet commander. Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt, USN, commander of the U.S. Third Fleet, stated that a denial of U.S. military cyber capabilities would cripple U.S. forces to the extent that they would not be able to conduct operations effectively. Speaking before a luncheon audience at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii, Adm. Hunt emphasized the importance of cyber in the U.S. military. "Cyber is the key spot in virtually every warfighting discussion and planning I've been in since I got to Third Fleet," he declared.
The medium literally is the message in Pacific Command operations, as network situational awareness may be the determining factor in the success of future operations. Adm. Robert F. Willard, USN, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, warned that U.S. military capabilities in this area are strongly lacking. "In command and control, you can't control what you can't see, and you must be able to control everything in these domains," Adm. Willard said. Speaking at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010, Adm. Willard related that recent Pacific rim exercises illustrated the problem. The cyber element was set up weeks in advance, and it was supported to an unprecedented level by personnel from the newly established U.S.
Maintaining stability in one of the most diverse, dynamic regions of the world will take a concerted effort among all particants holding a positive stake in the future. To achieve that goal, nations and organizations must band together to iron out the rough spots even when some players remain reticent about cooperation. In this month's issue of SIGNAL Magazine, Robert K. Ackerman strikes a chord with his interview featuring the commander of Pacific Command (PACOM), Adm. Robert F.