With the 2020 election fast approaching and tensions with Iran continually shifting, many people are looking to U.S. Cyber Command to help ensure cybersecurity. The command faces an uphill battle because the current construct allows each service branch to retain tactical command of its organic cyber experts. To be more successful in the cyberspace domain, the command needs to take over tasking authority for all cyber-related units, establish a standardized joint cyber schoolhouse and establish a Joint Cyber Operations Command to perform joint, effects-driven cyber operations.
The U.S. arsenal boasts diverse weapons that share a common cybersecurity challenge: They depend on power generated by U.S. Defense Department or civilian-owned infrastructures that are increasingly vulnerable to cyber attack. Disrupting the availability of these power systems could impact not only the United States’ ability to project U.S. military power globally but also to respond to a domestic attack.
Government agencies are working together much more effectively as they counter terrorism and state-sponsored attacks in cyberspace. But more remains to be done as adversaries introduce new tactics and capabilities.
A panel comprising the top U.S. intelligence officials reviewed these issues as they closed out the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence & National Security Summit on September 5. Their points ranged from foreign interference in U.S. elections to cooperation—or the lack thereof—from industry with the U.S. government.
Securing the cyberspace will get worse before it gets any better, warned Adm. Michael Rogers, USN, director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and commander of U.S. Cyber Command.
“The very technical foundation of the world we’ve created with the Internet of Things is going to exacerbate [security vulnerabilities], not make it easier,” he said. Now, it’s not that the Internet of Things is bad, he pointed out. “As a private citizen, I love the convenience. But I also acknowledge it brings inherent challenges when we’re trying to defend something.”
Maj. Gen. James K. McLaughlin, USAF, has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and for assignment as deputy commander, U.S. Cyber Command, at Fort Meade, Maryland. McLaughlin is currently serving as commander, 24th Air Force, Air Force Space Command; and commander, Air Forces Cyber, U.S. Cyber Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, according to a Defense Department press release.
Situational awareness, automated decision making and a new way to refresh work force skills rank high on the U.S. Cyber Command's (CYBERCOM's) list of needs from industry, according to its commander. Adm. Michael S. Rogers, USN, CYBERCOM commander, director of the National Security Agency and chief of the Central Security Service, described those three items as top priorities to the luncheon audience at the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium, being held June 24-25 in Baltimore.
The U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) views the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) as a key partner in its effort to secure defense cyberspace. This includes the agency having an operational mission in which it plays a critical role in defending defense cyberspace, according to the commander of CYBERCOM.
Adm. Michael S. Rogers, USN, CYBERCOM’s commander, told the luncheon audience at the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium, being held June 24-25 in Baltimore, that his command already is planning a command and control construct in which DISA can carry out this new mission. The admiral sees DISA playing a key role as defense networking becomes more centralized.
The United States is one of the best in the world at protecting civil liberties, Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, director of National Security Agency (NSA) and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command said at the AFCEA Cyber Symposium in Baltimore.
Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked reams of data about NSA monitoring activities to the press, has been called a hero whistleblower by some, but Gen. Alexander contends that the employees at the NSA, FBI, CIA and Defense Department, who protect the nation while protecting civil liberties, are the real heroes.
The Air Force Space Command expects to be directed to add 1,000 new people, mainly civilians, to its base of about 6,000 cyber professionals for the 2014 fiscal year. According to the U.S. Defense Department blog “Armed With Science,” Gen. William L. Shelton, USAF, who leads Air Force Space Command, said direction for the hires would come from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, fueled by the U.S. Cyber Command.
The U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) hosted its first tactical-level exercise focusing on national defensive cyberspace operations. CYBER GUARD included nearly 500 participants representing the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Guard, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI. The cyber subject matter experts focused on national defensive cyberspace operations; command and control with mission integration between CYBERCOM/NSA; and the National Guard also was addressed in a joint dynamic cybertraining environment.
Integral Systems Incorporated recently announced that it has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Strategic Command to provide worldwide interference geolocation services. Under the terms of the contract, the company will provide U.S. Cyber Command, a sub-unified command, with commercial satellite geolocation services. The geolocation services contract provides Cyber Command's Global Satellite Communications Support Center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, access to actionable information via Integral's global network of advanced digital signal processing monitoring sensors, geolocation systems and tri-band (C-, X- and Ku-band) antennas.
The price of failure to provide adequate cybersecurity ultimately may be too high for any nation to tolerate. Yet, the cost of effective cybersecurity may be too much for a nation to afford. The consequences of a damaging cyberattack on a part of the critical infrastructure could be catastrophic, yet securing national capabilities from cyberattack will require more than just government or industry action. Both groups must work in concert to produce results that are greater than the sum of their parts, but no single approach to cybersecurity will work to protect the diverse government and commercial assets that are both extremely vulnerable and highly critical to a nation’s well-being.
Cyber warfare garnered attention and funding earmarks in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2015 Defense Department spending bill as lawmakers want to see federal civilian jobs pay more competitive salaries to keep up with the industry work force. The measure also calls for a study to determine if the services should change active duty officer and enlisted specialty cyber mission designators.
Cybersecurity remains a priority for the U.S. Defense Department, with officials protecting resources for it in the face of overall budget constraints. Guidance from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 directs a mission analysis of cybercapabilities not only in the active military, but also across partners, to help forces maintain their edge in protecting the nation.
The new head of the U.S. Army Cyber Command cites the importance of looking carefully at what cyberwarriors do to determine how best to manage the men and women tasked with protecting the service’s information technology networks. This focus on personnel addresses challenges ranging from retaining talent to ensuring that cyber operations have the best resources—human and technological—for their mission.
Intelligence needs cyber, and cyber needs intelligence. How they can function symbiotically is a less clear-cut issue, with challenges ranging from training to legal policy looming as government officials try to respond to a burgeoning cyber threat.
The cyber threat is growing, and the defense and homeland security communities must strive to keep up with new ways of inflicting damage to governments and businesses. Many experts believe the cyber threat has supplanted terrorism as the greatest national security issue, and new technologies are only one avenue for blunting the menace. Intelligence must expand its palette to identify and detect cyber threats before they realize their malicious goals.
In his June interview with SIGNAL Magazine, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, USA, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, advocated bringing together the signal community, signals intelligence and the cyber community. In that interview, he said, “We need to think of ourselves not as signals, not as intelligence, not as cyber, but instead as a team that puts us all together.”
Despite small pockets of resistance, officials across the U.S. Defense Department and military services support the convergence of multiple networks into one common, shared, global network. Lessons learned from the theater of operations indicate the need for the joint environment, which will provide enterprise services such as email, Internet access, common software applications and cloud computing.
Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 2
The Joint Information Environment (JIE) took center stage during the second day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore. The conference devoted one full panel to the joint environment, but presenters throughout the day stressed the JIE’s importance to the future of the U.S. military and coalition partners, discussed some of the challenges to achieving the vision and vowed that the department will make it happen despite any remaining obstacles.
Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 3
Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, who directs the National Security Agency (NSA) and commands U.S. Cyber Command, wrapped up the final day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium with a strongly-worded defense of the U.S. intelligence community, which is under fire following recently-leaked documents concerning the collection of data on the online activities of ordinary citizens in the United States and abroad. The general deviated from the topic of cyber long enough to address the controversy.