[ISN] Cybersecurity defense requires a good offense

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Thu Mar 22 2007 - 23:49:42 PST


By Bob Brewin
March 22, 2007

The best defense against cyberattacks on U.S. military, civil and 
commercial networks is to go on the offensive, said Marine Gen. James 
Cartwright, commander of the Strategic Command (Stratcom), said March 21 
in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee.

History teaches us that a purely defensive posture poses significant 
risks, Cartwright told the committee. He added that if we apply the 
principle of warfare to the cyberdomain, as we do to sea, air and land, 
we realize the defense of the nation is better served by capabilities 
enabling us to take the fight to our adversaries, when necessary, to 
deter actions detrimental to our interests.

Cartwright said U.S. adversaries in cyberspace include other countries, 
terrorists and criminals who operate behind what he described as 
technical, legal and international screens, and he said that if we are 
to take the fight to our adversaries, we will need Congress help finding 
solutions to penetrate these screens.

Stratcom is the lead command within the Defense Department and it is 
charged with planning and directing cyberspace defense. It also manages 
the U.S. nuclear deterrent forces.

The Stratcom commander told the committee that the United States is 
under widespread, daily attacks in cyberspace. He added that  the 
country lacks dominance in the cyberdomain and that it could become 
increasingly vulnerable if we do not fundamentally change how we view 
this battle space.

Cartwright said U.S. cyberspace adversaries have potentially different 
motives  financial, political or military  and threaten the freedom to 
embrace the opportunity offered by a globally connected, flattened 

He added that the magnitude of cost in terms of dollars dedicated to 
cyberdefense measures, lost intellectual capital and fraud that results 
from cyberattacks cannot be overestimated, making these attacks a matter 
of great national interest.

Stratcom continues to make progress in developing information operations 
capabilities into core military capabilities, Cartwright said, providing 
joint force commanders with the capability to gain and maintain 
information advantage over U.S. cyberspace adversaries.

The Air Force, which recently established a Cyber Command, views 
cyberspace as a warfighting domain, said Lt. Gen. Robert Elder Jr., 
commander of the 8th Air Force and JFCC-Global Strike and Integration.

"This particular domain is contested," Elder said, speaking at the FOSE 
trade show in Washington, D.C., March 21. "In some cases it's a 
criminal, in some cases it's a nation-state."

Either way, the Air Force's goal, as with air and space, is cyberspace 
superiority, he said. To achieve that goal, the service plans to 
"integrate all of our instruments of national power," leveraging 
diplomatic, economics and military options, Elder said.

Elder did not detail plans for going on the offensive. But when asked 
about it, he said, "We will probably do some of that, by the way."

Cartwright did not identify nations behind cyberattacks against the 
United States, but last month, officials at the Naval Network Warfare 
Command said Chinese hackers are constantly waging cyberwarfare against 
DOD networks.

Stratcom is also concerned with attacks against space-based 
communications and navigation systems, such as the Global Positioning 
System, Cartwright said at the committee hearing. Intentional 
interference with space-based intelligence, navigation and 
communications satellites, while not routine, now occurs with some 
regularity, Cartwright said.

He said U.S. adversaries are contesting the country's ability to freely 
access space-based assets, such as GPS and other satellites, which are 
essential to U.S. strategic and tactical operations.

Although the United States has conventional and nuclear capability 
unmatched in the world, Cartwright told the committee that enemies are 
positioning themselves to avoid our strengths and exploit our 
vulnerabilities, which he said include space-based systems and networked 
information systems.

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