Cyber Strategies for a World at War

OPEN SOURCE AGGREGATION & ANALYSIS

U.S. must craft cyberwarfare battle strategy

By William Jackson
February 18, 2009
Government Computer News

America has to face up to the realities of cyberwarfare with tactical and strategic planning, Kurtz says

The intelligence community and the military have crucial roles to play in protecting cyber space, former presidential adviser Paul E. Kurtz said Wednesday, and a clear command and control structure is needed to ensure that our information infrastructure can survive and recover from major disruptions.

In his opening address at the Black Hat Federal security conference being held in Arlington, Va., Kurtz, who served on the National and Homeland Security councils under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said the nation has been reluctant to consider the proper role of government in regulating and defending cyberspace. He said it is important that these decisions be made openly after public discussion rather than allowed to happen behind closed doors.

“To those who object to the militarization of cyberspace, I would say, it’s too late: We’re already there,” Kurtz said.

Kurtz, who recently served as cybersecurity adviser on President Barack Obama’s transition team, steered clear of discussing his advice to the new administration. But he praised the 60-day review of federal cybersecurity initiatives announced by the president on Feb. 9 and called Melissa Hathaway, the Bush administration official tapped to conduct it, “exceptionally capable.”

He said the United States should apply some of the lessons learned during the Cold War to cyber conflicts now simmering online. Cyber warfare is not as simple as the bipolar confrontation between the Western democracies and the Soviet bloc, Kurtz said. It is multilateral standoff involving multiple nations, shadowy organizations, and individual hackers and criminals.

“But I do think a number of concepts from the Cold War may apply, and one of these is deterrence,” he added.

A clear policy of deterrence by the United States and its allies helped to avoid the use of nuclear weapons. But no similar policy has been established for battles fought over networks. There is no definition of cyberwarfare, no policy on how and when cyber weapons should be deployed and used, and we do not have a clear idea of who our enemies are.

“We must begin by addressing the question of attribution,” Kurtz said. The ability to collect, share and analyze data in order to tailor responses to a threat is “the beginning of a deterrence policy.”

That ability will require the efforts of the intelligence community, in cooperation with law enforcement and the private sector, he said. Each of these sectors now collects large amounts of data, but the same inability to share and “connect the dots” that led to the 2001 terrorist attacks still plague our cybersecurity, he said.

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