DOD, Homeland Security Collaborate in Cyber Realm

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2011 — Rec­og­niz­ing the huge nation­al secu­ri­ty impli­ca­tions of com­pro­mised U.S. com­put­er net­works, a senior Pen­ta­gon offi­cial said the Defense Depart­ment is work­ing hand in hand with the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty and oth­ers to shore up vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties against an increas­ing­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed threat.

“Our focus is to ensure we can oper­ate effec­tive­ly in cyber­space, espe­cial­ly in areas of com­mand and con­trol” and oth­er net­work-cen­tric oper­a­tions, Robert J. But­ler, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for cyber pol­i­cy, told a Cen­ter for a New Amer­i­can Secu­ri­ty forum yes­ter­day.

Kristin M. Lord, coed­i­tor of the center’s new report, “America’s Cyber Future: Secu­ri­ty and Pros­per­i­ty in the Infor­ma­tion Age,” told atten­dees that cyber threats endan­ger the enor­mous eco­nom­ic, social and mil­i­tary advances cyber­space enables for the Unit­ed States and the world.

This can have severe impli­ca­tions across the board, includ­ing on the U.S. mil­i­tary, which depends on cyber­space to oper­ate its com­mu­ni­ca­tions, weapons, logis­tics and nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems. In a worst-case sce­nario, Lord not­ed, cyber attacks could dis­able crit­i­cal equip­ment and even turn it against its users.

The Defense Depart­ment stood up U.S. Cyber Com­mand under U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand to focus direct­ly on the chal­lenges as well as oppor­tu­ni­ties in what DOD now rec­og­nizes as a fifth domain of war­fare. The mil­i­tary ser­vices have aligned their capa­bil­i­ties as well, with 24th Air Force, U.S. Fleet Cyber Com­mand, Marine Forces Cyber Com­mand and Army Cyber Command/2nd Army all lead­ing their respec­tive ser­vices’ efforts.

But­ler cit­ed a mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing signed last fall that enables the Defense Depart­ment and Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty to bet­ter share infor­ma­tion, exper­tise and capa­bil­i­ties.

The plan retains Home­land Security’s lead respon­si­bil­i­ty for pro­tect­ing the U.S. government’s civil­ian net­works and crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture. The Defense Depart­ment is respon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing some 15,000 mil­i­tary net­works in the so-called “dot-mil” domain. Under the agree­ment, the two agen­cies will col­lab­o­rate to bet­ter safe­guard cyber­space against state as well as non­state actors.

But­ler said this shar­ing arrange­ment will expand as Cyber Com­mand grows and matures. He said he envi­sions more per­son­nel-shar­ing between the two depart­ments, and more col­lo­cat­ing of employ­ees to they can bet­ter con­duct plan­ning and share tal­ents.

Rand Beers, under­sec­re­tary of Home­land Security’s nation­al pro­tec­tion and pro­grams direc­torate, said his depart­ment, a rel­a­tive new­com­er to the cyber are­na, gains tremen­dous­ly through the whole-of-gov­ern­ment approach to cyber­space, par­tic­u­lar­ly its part­ner­ship with DOD.

“The bot­tom line is we could­n’t do it with­out DOD because it is a team effort,” he said.

A recent cyber attack on a net­work at Lock­heed Mar­tin Corp., a major U.S. defense con­trac­tor, had only a min­i­mal impact, But­ler said. The FBI is lead­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into the inci­dent, which report­ed­ly occurred May 2.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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