World

July 12, 2012

NSA chief: Cyber world presents opportunities, challenges

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON — Technology has opened tremendous opportunities for the world, but also poses tremendous challenges for those who work to ensure access to cyberspace, the director of the National Security Agency said here yesterday.

Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who also commands U.S. Cyber Command, told participants in an American Enterprise Institute seminar titled “Cybersecurity and American Power” that the capability exists today for destructive cyber attacks against critical infrastructures.

The cyber world is an increasingly important domain, the general said. In 2000, 360 million people were on the Internet. Today, more than 2.3 billion people are connected. Last year, 107 trillion emails were sent, he added, and a sign of the times is that more than 500,000 apps exist for the iPhone and 280,000 for Android smartphones.

But this tremendous opportunity for communication also presents a potential avenue of attack, Alexander said. A 2007 denial-of-service attack on Estonia virtually shut the nation down, he said, but that was just a transitory event in the evolution of cyber attacks.

“What I think we really need to be concerned about is when these transition from disruptive to destructive attacks — and I think those are coming,” he said.

A destructive attack does not simply overload computers or networks — it destroys data or software, and systems must be replaced to return to the status quo. “We’ve got to consider that those are going to happen,” Alexander said. “Those are coming up, and we have to be ready for that.”

The general stressed that deterring cyber attacks is more difficult than nuclear deterrence, noting that nation-states, cyber criminals, hackers, activists and terrorists all pose threats. “So when you think about deterrence theory, you’re not talking about just nation-on-nation deterrence theory,” he said. “You have other non-nation-state actors that you now have to consider.”

An attack may originate in a country, Alexander said, but no one can really tell if it’s the nation, a criminal gang within the country or a lone hacker launching the attack.

Regardless of who initiates an attack, he added, the result could be the same. “You lose the financial sector or the power grid or your systems capabilities for a period of time,” the general said. “It doesn’t matter who did it; you still lose that. So you’ve got to come up with a defensive strategy that solves that, from my perspective.”

The U.S. defensive strategy has to be a team approach, he said. “We want to get as many people as we can working together to solve this problem,” Alexander said.

The White House has led the governmental effort, spanning the Department of Homeland Security to the Defense Department to the FBI and beyond. And any protection — to be effective — must include the private sector, the general told the audience. This has caused hackles to rise, he acknowledged, with critics saying such efforts are an invasion of privacy. But, Alexander said, it can be done while protecting civil liberties.

“If the critical infrastructure community is being attacked by something, we need them to tell us at network speed,” the general said. “It doesn’t require the government to read their mail or your mail to do that. It requires them — the Internet service provider or that company — to tell us that that type of event is going on at this time. And it has to be at network speed if you’re going to stop it.”

Cyber runs at the speed of light, Alexander noted, and human reaction times are simply not fast enough to react.

“Maybe we could do this in real time and come up with a construct [in which] you and the American people know that we’re not looking at civil liberties and privacy, [but] we’re actually trying to figure out when the nation is under attack and what we need to do about it,” he said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Tanja Linton

Intelligence Senior Leader Conference maps out ‘way ahead’

Tanja Linton U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley opened the Intelligence Senior Leaders Conference at the Intelligence System Integration Laboratory Dec. 10. Senior intelligence leaders...
 
 

HOLIDAY SAFETY MESSAGE

The end of the year is a great time to take a moment to reflect on our many accomplishments at Fort Huachuca and as an Army. I want to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication as we continue to build on our accomplishments and enhance America’s fighting force. Many of us will be...
 
 

What makes chaplain assistants unique

SAN ANTONIO — As the U.S. Army Installation Management Command chaplain assistant sergeant major, I am proud of all the chaplain assistants supporting our Soldiers, Families and Civilians. We are celebrating 105 years since the Army officially introduced this unique Military Occupational Specialty, or MOS. The Army officially created the position of chaplain assistant On...
 

 
Sgt. Jarred Woods, 1st Sustainment Command (Theater)

Looking for career progression? Join Civilian Expeditionary Workforce

Sgt. Jarred Woods, 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) Department of the Army Civilians inspect a base expeditionary targeting surveillance systems-combined tower before transferring it over to the Afghan National Army near Kabul...
 
 

Colonel Smith MS Panthers end perfect basketball season

It was an exciting, perfect season for the Smith Panthers, a boy’s basketball team at Colonel Smith Middle School. The 14-member team started the season winning 3-0 at the three season tournament. During the regular season the team kept winning, ending their games 9-0. They also won during the CAC Championship. “[That’s] 14-0 wins total,”...
 
 

Fort community donates items in big way

From left, Warren “Russ” Barnes, logistics officer, shows Deborah Bohn, budget analyst, and Sheri York, RAYTHEON site lead, how to ride one of 55 bikes the 2nd-13th Aviation Regiment collected for the Fort Huachuca toy drive this year. This week, chapel personnel distributed toys and clothing collected from many units and organizations on Fort Huachuca...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin