The Positive Side of Cyber

September 9, 2014
George I. Seffers
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All too often, the topic of cyber presents a negative view of vulnerabilities and attacks, but cyber has a positive role to play in national defense, said Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Cyber Command.

Gen. Cardon made the comments while serving as a keynote speaker at AFCEA TechNet Augusta, Augusta, Georgia, on Tuesday. “We’re absolutely dependent on this network, and I would say we’re going to become more dependent on this network,” Gen. Cardon said. “The reason I say that is that as the Army gets smaller, we are going to use the network to enable our forces in ways that allow our forces to look bigger than they are.”

He reported that, “This has already happened over the last 10 years." As a brigade commander in Iraq, the general recalled, he had only a satellite communications radio for communications. “I look at what we had when I last left Iraq in 2011, and company commanders have more capability than division commanders had in 2003,” he said, predicting that the trend will continue. “There’s a huge positive side to cyber. It’s what cyber is doing for our society and what it’s doing for the United States military. It’s allowing us to distribute globally and to really enable the forces at what the Army terms as the tactical edge,” he said.

Gen. Cardon acknowledged the negative side of cyber. “The threats are going up. The vulnerabilities are going up. The complexities of the space are going up. And the barriers to entry in the space are going up,” he said. He cited a recent RAND survey studying the various “botnets and technologies that you can just download off the Internet.”

“The challenge with this is that as these technologies are invented, they are dual use. They can be used in a very good way, and they can absolutely be a tool for those wishing to do something different,” he stated.

And it’s not just a Defense Department issue, he told the TechNet Augusta audience, explaining that he works closely with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. “As we go forward, common concepts, operations, partnerships and collaboration are critical,” he offered. “And so much of the technology that comes to us is proprietary.” Technologies in the cyberdomain should be as interoperable as telephones, he said.

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