Defense

July 27, 2012

Pentagon still grappling with rules of cyberwar

by Lolita C. Baldor
Associated Press

The Pentagon is still grappling with how to write the rules of cyberwarfare, such as when and how to fire back against a computer-based attack, senior military leaders told Congress July 25.

Four months ago the military’s top cyberwarrior predicted the rules would be ironed out in a “month or two” and sent to other federal agencies for discussion. But the complex world of cyberspace, which has no real boundaries and operates at the speed of light, has proven to be a difficult battlefield for the military to map out.

House members said that working out the rules of cyberwar is critical so that the military will be able to respond quickly when U.S. networks are attacked or threatened. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, told military leaders that there likely won’t be time for Congress to pass a declaration of war if or when a computer-based attack happens.

So, consultation with lawmakers beforehand would smooth things over, said Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services emerging threats subcommittee.

“The devil is in the details,” acknowledged Vice Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command. He said it has been an issue for some time, and that he expects there will be some developments “at some point in the near term.”

During hearings in March, members of Congress pressed Army Gen. Keith Alexander, head of U.S. Cyber Command, for details on the military rules of engagement for offensive cyberoperations, particularly so that U.S. forces have the proper authority to act quickly when an attack is discovered or a network is breached. Alexander, who also heads the secretive National Security Agency, said at the time that U.S. officials were reaching some agreement on the rules.

The military has longstanding rules of engagement for conventional warfare that lay out the appropriate response to a particular act or attack by another country or faction. And last year President Barack Obama signed execute orders that detailed how far military commanders around the globe can go in using cyberattacks against enemies and laid out when the military must seek presidential approval for a specific cyberassault.

The current ground rules for cyberoperations were written in 2005, but are not adequate for the current technologies. The new rules, said Alexander in March, would allow the military to stop breaches as they were happening and would detail the conditions necessary to take those actions.

Senior officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps who are responsible for cyberoperations testified before the subcommittee. They said that the armed services are using bonuses and other enticements to recruit and retain cyberwarriors, while competing with private industry for candidates.

But lawmakers wondered about funding shortfalls that could stifle the increase in cyberpersonnel the Pentagon is bringing on.

“We are facing significant fiscal challenges in the coming years,” said Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I. “Cyberrelated activities are faring reasonably well so far, but nothing is immune, and even noncyberspecific cuts could have an impact on your commands as personnel resources are reduced or research and development funding decreased.”

Rogers said that attracting and keeping his cyberworkforce is a “significant challenge, given the rapidly evolving nature of cyberspace and the intense competition from industry for top talent.”

And other said that dramatic budget cuts, which will become necessary early next year if Congress can’t agree on funding, would be a problem.

Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, commander of Air Forces Cyber, said the cuts would be devastating and cause the Air Force to lose ground.

As to the size of their cyberworkforce, the Air Force has about 17,000, the Army has about 11,000; the Navy has about 14,000; and the Marines have about 700. Cyber has been one defense area where spending has increased, even as budget cuts hit other places.

Vautrinot also noted that the Air Force has been working to make sure that key drone operations are protected against cyberattacks, focusing on the highest priority missions. Last year, a computer virus infected the Pentagon’s drone program, but it did not get into flight controls.




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


 
 

 

Headlines October 1, 2014

Veterans: Substantial VA staff will face discipline - A substantial number of VA employees will face punishment for the veterans treatment scandal, the new national commander of the American Legion predicted Sept. 30, indicating that the slow pace of discipline has more to do with the hoops the department must jump through than it does a...
 
 

News Briefs October 1, 2014

Egypt president gives army control of arms imports The Egyptian president has amended a law, giving the country’s army control over weapons and ammunition imports. The Sept. 30 statement from the presidency says Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi changed articles stipulating that a permit for weapons’ imports has to be granted by the Interior Ministry, which is in...
 
 
atk-test

ATK successfully tests Orion launch abort motor igniter

NASA and ATK successfully completed a static test of the launch abort motor igniter for the Orion crew capsule’s Launch Abort System. Conducted at ATK’s facility in Promontory, Utah, this test is the next step towa...
 

 
uav-coalition

Small UAV coalition launched to advance commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles

Leading technology companies Oct. 1 formally announced the formation of the Small UAV Coalition to help pave the way for commercial, philanthropic, and civil use of small unmanned aerial vehicles in the United States and abroad...
 
 
Navy photograph

NAWCWD manned for unmanned systems

Navy photograph A rail launch is performed during Integrator unmanned aerial vehicle testing at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division China Lake, Calif. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division scientists, engineers, techn...
 
 
NASA photograph by Ken Ulbrich

NASA employees go ‘above and beyond’

Courtesy photograph NASA Chief Scientist Albion Bowers, Christopher Miller and Nelson Brown receive the Exception Engineering Achievement Medal at Armstrong Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The prestigious award ...
 




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>