Cyber Strategies for a World at War

OPEN SOURCE AGGREGATION & ANALYSIS

NSA Should Oversee Cybersecurity, Intel Chief Says

By Kim Zetter
February 26, 2009

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Despite the fact that many Americans distrust the National Security Agency for its role in the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, the agency should be entrusted with securing the nation’s telecommunications networks and other cyber infrastructures, President Obama’s director of national intelligence told Congress on Wednesday.

Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair told the House intelligence committee (.pdf) that the NSA, rather than the Department of Homeland Security which currently oversees cybersecurity, has the smarts and the skills to secure cyberspace.

“The National Security Agency has the greatest repository of cyber talent,” Blair said. “[T]here are some wizards out there at Fort Meade who can do stuff.”

Blair added that “because of the offensive mission that they have, they’re the ones who know best about what’s coming back at us and it’s defenses against those sorts of things that we need to be able to build into wider and wider circles.”

He acknowledged that the agency had a trust handicap to overcome due to its role in the Bush Administration’s secret domestic spying program, and therefore asked Congress to help convince the public that it’s the right agency for the task.

“I think there is a great deal of distrust of the National Security Agency and the intelligence community in general playing a role outside of the very narrowly circumscribed role because of some of the history of the FISA issue in years past. . . . So I would like the help of people like you who have studied this closely and served on commissions, the leadership of the committee and finding a way that the American people will have confidence in the supervision, in the oversight of the role of NSA so that it can help protect these wider bodies. So, to me, that’s one of the keys things that we have to work on here in the next few months.”

Blair is not without support for his view. Paul Kurtz, who led the cybersecurity group on Obama’s transition team and was part of Bush’s White House National Security Council, recently told Forbes that he supports the NSA taking a prominent role in cybersecurity.

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Biography – Dennis C. Blair

Director of National Intelligence

Dennis C. Blair became the nation’s third Director of National Intelligence on January 29, 2009.

Prior to retiring in 2002, Admiral Blair served as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, the largest of the combatant commands. During his 34-year Navy career, Admiral Blair served on guided missile destroyers in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and commanded the Kitty Hawk Battle Group. Ashore, he served as Director of the Joint Staff and as the first Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support at the CIA. He has also served in budget and policy positions on the National Security Council and several major Navy staffs.

From 2003 to 2006, Blair was President and CEO of the Institute for Defense Analyses — one of the nation’s foremost national security analysis centers. Most recently, he served as the John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies at the National Bureau of Asian Research, and the Deputy Director of the Project on National Security Reform, an organization that analyzes the U.S. national security structure and develops recommendations to improve its effectiveness.

A 1968 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Blair earned a master’s degree in History and Languages from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and served as a White House Fellow at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He has been awarded four Defense Distinguished Service Medals and has received decorations from the governments of Japan, Thailand, the Republic of Korea and Australia.

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U.S. Interests Face Challenges in Europe, Intelligence Chief Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2009 – (This is the third in a series on the intelligence community’s annual threat assessment.)

Russia’s perceived strengths and its policies, tensions in Eurasia, Caucasus and Central Asia, and instability in the Balkans all pose challenges to U.S. interests in Europe, the director of national intelligence said Feb. 12.

Dennis C. Blair, a retired Navy admiral, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that Russia continues to rebuild its military and, as events in Georgia last year show, use those forces to impress on the world that the nation is still relevant.

“Russian challenges to US interests now spring more from Moscow’s perceived strengths than from the state weaknesses characteristic of the 1990s,” Blair said in prepared testimony.

“U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and general anti-Americanism have created openings for Russia to build alternative arrangements to the US-led international political and economic institutional order,” he said.

Russia is attempting to increase its ability to influence events, he said, by “actively cultivating relations with regional powers, including China, Iran, and Venezuela.”

Blair said Russia’s energy policy is aimed at increasing the country’s importance on the European continent.

“Moscow also is trying to maintain control over energy supply and transportation networks to Europe to East Asia, and protect and further enhance its market share in Europe through new bilateral energy partnerships and organizing a gas cartel with other major exporters,” he said.

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Intelligence Community Sees Asia Rising

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2009 – (This is the second in a three-part series on the intelligence community’s annual threat assessment.)

U.S. intelligence planners predict the 21st century will be the time for the rise of Asia, the director of national intelligence said Feb. 12.

Dennis C. Blair told the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that “China and India are restoring positions they held in the 18th century when China produced approximately 30 percent and India 15 percent of the world’s wealth.”

While the current global economic crisis will slow growth in China and India, the two countries are likely to become the world’s third and fourth largest economies by 2025. China’s emergence as a world power is affecting the regional balance of power in Asia, Blair said in a prepared statement.

While the communist rulers of China have been successful in transforming the direction of the country, the government’s international behavior is driven by the need to maintain power. Leaders see their main missions as continuing prosperity and maintaining domestic stability, he said.

“Chinese leaders view preserving domestic stability as one of their most important internal security challenges,” Blair said.

Roughly 300 million Chinese have benefited from the current economic success, leaving 1 billion still in poverty.

Tibet and Taiwan remain problems internationally for the Chinese, but the election of a new government in Taiwan has tamped down tensions between the United States and the People’s Republic, Blair said.

From a military standpoint, China continues its modernization programs and operationally Chinese forces are prepared to move beyond the region, the admiral said. For example, a Chinese ship is cooperating with anti-pirate patrols in the Gulf of Aden, and Chinese troops may soon take part in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

On the equipment side, China continues to develop new, increasingly accurate missile capabilities that can reach U.S. forces throughout the region.

China is developing a robust anti-satellite capability, and Blair said this is among the nation’s highest military priorities. The Chinese also are modernizing their nuclear weapons capabilities.

Blair also spoke of India, which is harnessing the power of free markets after decades of trying to manage the economy.

“Like China, India’s expanding economy will lead New Delhi to pursue new trade partners, gain access to vital energy markets, and generate the other resources required to sustain rapid economic growth,” he said.

From a foreign policy and intelligence standpoint, relations with Pakistan dominate. The terror attack on Mumbai in November chilled relations between the two powers. Pakistan has vowed to crack down on extremists who used Pakistan to plan and train for the attack that crippled India’s major financial center and killed more than 130 people.

In Asia, North Korea is the odd-man out. In a region that reaped the benefits of economic growth, North Koreans are starving, and the government is pouring money into the military.

Blair said the U.S. intelligence community believes North Korea is operating a covert uranium enrichment program. While the country has nuclear weapons, Blair said he did not think North Korea would use them unless faced with a military defeat or loss of control.

North Korea continues to participate in the Six Party Talks — with South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and the United States — but progress is slow, Blair said. North Korea continues to proliferate nuclear weapons and missile technology, most notably to Iran and Syria.

“We remain concerned North Korea could again export nuclear technology,” he said.

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Economic Crisis Overlays all Threats Facing U.S., Intel Chief Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2009 – (Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series on the intelligence community’s annual threat assessment.)

The global economic crisis colors all other threats confronting the United States, the new director of national intelligence told the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Feb. 12.

Dennis C. Blair said the crisis raises the level of uncertainty in the world and places new areas of the globe in danger. Analysts are trying to understand the geopolitical implications of the crisis.

“The crisis has been ongoing for about a year, and economists are divided over whether and when we could hit bottom,” Blair said in prepared testimony. “Time is probably our greatest threat. The longer it takes for recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to U.S. strategic interests.”

The longer the crisis continues, the more likely the risk of instability in many areas of the world including Latin America, Central Asia and Africa. “Statistical modeling shows that economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they persist over a one- to two-year period,” he said.

The overlay of the crisis makes known threats — such as al-Qaida — even more dangerous, he said. Extremist Muslim groups retain the greatest capability to threaten the United States and its interests.

Still, there has been progress countering al-Qaida, in particular. Blair said the indiscriminate attacks on fellow Muslims in Iraq and North Africa have caused many moderate Muslims to condemn the group.

Al-Qaida remains a threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The group portrays itself as aiding Taliban insurgents who are fighting Western imperialism, Blair said.

In Pakistan’s tribal areas, the terror group lost many of its leaders in 2008, he said. While this has weakened the group in the area, the group in Pakistan remains the most dangerous and continues to plot against the United States and U.S. interests from havens in the region.

In Iraq, al-Qaida has been severely weakened, but still retains the ability to launch occasional attacks, he said.

The terror group is re-emerging in Yemen. A terror cell launched an attack on the U.S. embassy in Sanaa in September and has launched 19 attacks on Western targets in the country in 2008.

Blair forecasts more al-Qaida activity in East Africa, specifically in Kenya and Somalia.

Al-Qaida cells may grow in the United States, Blair said. “We remain concerned about the potential for homegrown extremists inspired by the al-Qaida militant ideology to plan attacks in the United States, Europe and elsewhere without operational direction from the group itself,” he said. U.S. agencies will focus on identifying ties between U.S.-based individuals and extremist networks overseas.

There are terror groups beyond al-Qaida. Hezbollah in Lebanon remains a dangerous terrorist foe, Blair said. The group could attack U.S. targets if it perceives the United States is threatening its survival, leadership or infrastructure. Due to the terror group’s sponsorship by Iran, should Hezbollah’s leaders think the United States is a threat to its benefactor, the terror group may launch attacks on U.S. interests in the Middle East.

Iran is at the heart of what Blair calls an “arc of instability” running from the Middle East to South Asia. Blair said Iran’s goal to be a regional power drives its efforts in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, North Africa, the Persian Gulf and beyond. It also is at the heart of the Iranian drive to develop nuclear weapons, he said.

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Global Trends

"The nature of conflict is changing. The risk of conflict will increase due to diverging interests among major powers, an expanding terror threat, continued instability in weak states, and the spread of lethal, disruptive technologies. Disrupting societies will become more common, with long-range precision weapons, cyber, and robotic systems to target infrastructure from afar, and more accessible technology to create weapons of mass destruction."
 
Global Trends and Key Implications Through 2035 from the National Intelligence Council Quadrennial Report GLOBAL TRENDS: The Paradox of Power

A World at War

The World is at War. It is a world war that is being fought right now, in real time, virtually everywhere on the planet. It is a world war that is, perhaps, more encompassing and global in nature than any other world war in history because, not only is it being fought by nations and their governments, it is also being fought by non-state actors such as terrorists, organized crime, unorganized crime, and many other known and unknown entities. It is a total world war being fought every day on the hidden and dark battle fields of the cyber domain. It is a war that, according to some intelligence estimates, has the potential to be as nearly as serious and as deadly as a nuclear war... [MORE]

 


 


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“When it comes to what government and business are doing together and separately with personal data scooped up from the ether, Mr. Schneier is as knowledgeable as it gets…. Mr. Schneier’s use of concrete examples of bad behavior with data will make even skeptics queasy and potentially push the already paranoid over the edge.” (Jonathan A. Knee - New York Times)... [MORE]

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Cyber Threat Assessment

 


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In this New York Times bestselling investigation, Ted Koppel reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is shockingly unprepared... [MORE]


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As cyber-attacks dominate front-page news, as hackers join terrorists on the list of global threats, and as top generals warn of a coming cyber war, few books are more timely and enlightening than Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War, by Slate columnist and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Fred Kaplan... [MORE]


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Kurt Brindley is a retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief who specialized in the fields of tele-communications and C4SRI systems Upon retirement from the navy, he spent nearly a decade as a defense industry consultant. He now writes full time... [MORE]


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