via American Forces Press Service
The world is at a crossroads in the development of threats in the cyber realm, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said here today.
More destructive attack capabilities are being developed but haven’t yet been used, Lynn told participants in the Center for Strategic Decision Research’s 28th International Workshop on Global Security. And the terrorist groups most likely to use such capabilities to attack cyber systems, he told the group, have yet to acquire them.
“This situation will not hold forever,” the deputy secretary said. “Terrorist organizations or rogue states could obtain and use destructive cyber capabilities.” The window of opportunity to develop stronger defenses before that happens is of uncertain duration, he added.
Lynn said three avenues of action are necessary to prevail against the spectrum of cyber threats.
“First, we must raise the level of protection in government and military networks,” he said. “We must ready our defense institution to confront cyber threats, because it is clear that any future conflict will have a cyber dimension. Future adversaries will seek to use our reliance on information technology against us. We must be prepared to defend our networks effectively.”
The U.S. Defense Department is moving aggressively to counter the cyber threat, Lynn told the audience, noting that as a doctrinal matter, the military must be able to defend and operate freely in cyberspace.
“Over the past two years, we have deployed specialized active defenses to protect military networks, and we have established the U.S. Cyber Command to operate and defend them,” he said. “And we are developing a comprehensive cyber strategy that will guide how each military service trains, equips and commands its forces for the cyber mission.”
And as the United States prepares its own forces to face the cyber challenge, Lynn said, it must pursue a second avenue of action: working with allies and partners on collective cyber defenses to strengthen their collective ability to monitor and respond to intrusions.
“In cyberspace, the more attack signatures you can see, and the more intrusions you can trace, the better your defense will be,” he explained. “In this way, the Cold War construct of shared warning has applications to cyberspace today. Just as our air and space defenses are linked with those of our allies to provide warning of airborne and missile attacks, so too can we cooperatively monitor our computer networks for cyber intrusions.”