Ensuring Communications for the Cyber Warrior

May 11, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The word cyber is frequently discussed, but depending on perspective, the definition varies. On a panel led by LtGen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, USA (Ret.), former Chief Information Officer/G-6, Department of the Army, experts from different perspectives came together to discuss cyber in support of the warfighter. There was agreement across the panel that the domain of cyberspace is big and man-made, as BGen. Joseph A. Brendler, USA, Chief of Staff, Defense Information Systems Agency, suggests, but RAdm. Edward H. Deets III, USN, Commander, Naval Network Warfare Command, adds that the cyber domain allows "good guys and bad guys to operate side by side." Cyber, he says, makes it difficult to distinguish between the two. The admiral adds that cyber is "more joint than anything else we do in defense." The battlespace is rapidly changing on both the technology and people side of it. "Technology we understand, but human side drives how fast change happens," relates Adm. Deets. The need for Web access is growing, and exposure can be reduced by locking down the network, he says, but when the network is locked down, "we don't have the network to use, and we eliminate the ability of our people to take innovation on the network to the next level," he warns. Col. Timothy Hill, USA, Director, Futures Directorate, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, says the challenge is maintaining consensus and momentum from what he calls the "coalition of willing people who are moving out into cloud computing and are not scared by the technology." Cloud computing is an inevitable wave, and we need to grasp it and understand the risk. There are a lot of flavors of clouds, and these are available in non proprietary open architectures that allow us to benefit from the entire commercial market, he explains. He adds that we must overcome the challenge of policy trailing technology. Policy was not designed for the technologies we are seeing today, or the risk, he adds. Gen. Brendler explains that the direction is toward better application portability achieved by virtualization of servers, desktops and storage...not just redundancy in standby elsewhere, but in many locations with load balancing so that if one system fails the effect felt by the user is zero. The need is to support warfighter missions by having an infrastructure that is always on and secure. The assurance and freedom of maneuver are achieved by having the right amount and correct balance of diversity and capacity, he continues. "We have made the leap from cyber being a black box techie thing to being a global warfighting joint domain, but we have not made the leap to understanding what it is as a joint domain because we still have multiple different networks within each service, according to VAdm. Nancy Brown, USN. Adm. Brown also recommends that we not assume we have a dot-mil domain around which we can build a parameter that makes us secure...not as long as there is one connection to the Internet, she emphasizes. "We have to figure out not how to build a parameter but how to break down the parameters and operate securely."

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