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U.S. Forces Need to Adopt More Active Cyber Defenses

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. The art of deterrence is different in cyberspace, said Brig Gen. Brett Williams, USAF, Pacific Command (PACOM) J-6. "You don't deter a cyber event with other cyber action," he elaborated. "You deter with the full strength of national action. it's bad to pigeonhole cyber in this area." Rear Adm. Scott H. Swift, USN, PACOM J-3, stated that the military still does not think of cyber as a warfighting system. it is as important as any other element of battle, such as tanks and aircraft, he added.