USA/Kanada — Lynn Discusses Cybersecurity Cooperation With Canadian Leaders

OTTAWA — U.S. and Cana­di­an ser­vice­mem­bers are work­ing side by side in defense of North Amer­i­ca and fight­ing side by side in defense of free­dom in Afghanistan. Now offi­cials want to expand that coop­er­a­tion to the cyber­world.

Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III meets with Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor Marie-Lucie Morin in Ottawa, June 14, 2010.
DoD pho­to by Cherie Cullen
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Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III is in the Cana­di­an cap­i­tal to dis­cuss ways the two nations – already the clos­est of allies – can coop­er­ate to defend crit­i­cal com­put­er net­works and cyber infra­struc­ture.

Lynn said the cyber threat to the Unit­ed States and Cana­da is real and grow­ing, and affects nation­al and eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty.

“For most of our his­to­ry, we have been shield­ed by geog­ra­phy – shield­ed by our oceans from attack,” he said. “Those nat­ur­al geo­graph­ic defens­es are of no use when it comes to cyber­at­tack. The Inter­net can trans­mit mali­cious code in the blink of an eye.”

And intru­sions are grow­ing more fre­quent. More than 100 for­eign intel­li­gence orga­ni­za­tions are try­ing to hack into var­i­ous aspects of the U.S. infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy infra­struc­ture, Lynn said.

“For­eign mil­i­taries are devel­op­ing offen­sive cyber capa­bil­i­ties, and some gov­ern­ments have the capac­i­ty to dis­rupt ele­ments of the U.S. infor­ma­tion grid,” he said.

Lynn stressed that cyber attacks are not just mil­i­tary threats, but threats to the crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture and eco­nom­ic well-being.

“A shared approach, an alliance approach to cyber­se­cu­ri­ty is crit­i­cal,” he said.

The speed of attacks – mea­sured in mil­lisec­onds – will require quick deci­sions and even quick­er respons­es, the deputy sec­re­tary not­ed.

“To have the high­est lev­els of pro­tec­tion, you want the widest set of allies so you under­stand and antic­i­pate the broad­est set of threats,” he said. “In the cyber are­na, know­ing who your adver­sary is, and what they’ve done, is a key part of mount­ing an effec­tive response.”

Yet deter­min­ing where an attack orig­i­nates is tough. The U.S.-Canadian coop­er­a­tion dur­ing the Cold War is a mod­el for how to move for­ward, he said.

“It is always best when search­ing for mark­ers of intru­sions and attacks to cast the widest net pos­si­ble,” he said.“International coop­er­a­tion is imper­a­tive for estab­lish­ing the chain of events for an intru­sion, and for quick­ly and deci­sive­ly respond­ing. The real­i­ty is that we can­not defend our net­works by our­selves. We need a shared defense.”

And that defense must include moré than just mil­i­tary net­works, Lynn not­ed. “We need to devel­op a shared cyber doc­trine that allows us to work flu­id­ly with each oth­er and with our oth­er allies,” he said.

The sec­re­tary also dis­cussed chal­lenges fac­ing both nations in the 21st cen­tu­ry dur­ing a speech to the Con­fer­ence of Defence Asso­ci­a­tions Insti­tute.

The U.S.-Canadian alliance has changed since the end of the Cold War, Lynn not­ed. The alliance works togeth­er on mar­itime sur­veil­lance and infra­struc­ture pro­tec­tion. The Unit­ed States worked with Cana­da on secu­ri­ty for the Van­cou­ver Olympics and in pro­vid­ing relief to Haiti.

“Our endur­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion has risen to meet chal­lenges that frankly our pre­de­ces­sors could not have fore­seen,” Lynn said.

The sec­re­tary par­tic­u­lar­ly praised the role of Cana­di­an ser­vice­mem­bers in Region­al Com­mand South in Afghanistan.

“Your sol­diers are on the front lines in the south where we face some of the most severe threats,” he said. “They are in a cam­paign to restore gov­er­nance to regions where the Tal­iban has long held sway.”

Cana­da has paid a high price, with 147 Cana­di­an ser­vice­mem­bers killed in Afghanistan.

“I want to say on behalf of the pres­i­dent and the Amer­i­can peo­ple that we rec­og­nize and hon­or the sac­ri­fice and com­mit­ment that the Cana­di­an peo­ple and armed forces have made to the fight,” he said.

The deputy sec­re­tary said the last decade has led both Cana­da and the Unit­ed States to a new under­stand­ing of what threats they face, and what must be done to com­bat them. “Seen from a broad­er per­spec­tive, the con­flict in Afghanistan reflects impor­tant changes that are under way in the nature of war­fare,” he said. “These changes have impor­tant impli­ca­tions for our defense plan­ning.”

The first and most promi­nent change in the nature of war­fare has to do with lethal­i­ty, Lynn said. In the past, the more sophis­ti­cat­ed an adver­sary, the more lethal the threat. The Sovi­ets had nuclear weapons and sophis­ti­cat­ed con­ven­tion­al capa­bil­i­ties. Rogue states, ter­ror­ists and insur­gents did not.

But this has changed. “Ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and rogue states seek weapons of mass destruc­tion,” he said. “Insur­gents are armed with impro­vised explo­sive devices that are capa­ble of pen­e­trat­ing even the most advanced armored vehi­cles. We even see crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tions that pos­sess world-class cyber capa­bil­i­ties.”

To com­bat this, the mil­i­tary force must become more agile, and more capa­ble through the spec­trum of con­flict.

“We need to be as pro­fi­cient at wag­ing a coun­terin­sur­gency cam­paign as we are at wag­ing high-end con­ven­tion­al cam­paigns,” the deputy sec­re­tary said.

The dura­tion of con­flicts also has changed. U.S. mil­i­tary plan­ning has been based on fight­ing two near-simul­ta­ne­ous wars.

“Plan­ners antic­i­pat­ed that these con­flicts could be quite intense, but they also antic­i­pat­ed that they would be rather short,” he said. “This con­struct no longer fits our real­i­ty.” In the two cur­rent wars, it was not the inten­si­ty of the ini­tial com­bat phase that was most chal­leng­ing, it’s the length of time the Unit­ed States has been involved.

“These wars have now last­ed longer than the Unit­ed States’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in World War I and World War II com­bined,” Lynn said.

Repeat­ed deploy­ments exact a high cost on troops and their fam­i­lies. The Unit­ed States has added num­bers to the Army and Marine Corps and is halt­ing reduc­tions in the Navy and Air Force. And defense plan­ners also are giv­ing the pos­si­ble dura­tion of con­flicts more atten­tion, Lynn said.

The third change in the glob­al secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment is the move toward foes using asym­met­ric war­fare. The con­ven­tion­al dom­i­nance that NATO enjoys “has led poten­tial adver­saries to seek asym­met­ric tac­tics, to seek out vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in our con­ven­tion­al forces rather than face those forces head-to-head,” he said.

They use IEDs and gueril­la tac­tics, or they launch cyber attacks to dis­rupt glob­al com­mand and con­trol, logis­tics and trans­port. Some coun­tries also are invest­ing in anti-access weapons such as sur­face-to-sur­face mis­siles, cyber capa­bil­i­ties and anti-satel­lite tech­nolo­gies to force the Unit­ed States and its allies away from the bat­tle­field.

“We have irrev­o­ca­bly entered an era of new threats,” the deputy sec­re­tary said. “But we have done so togeth­er, each com­mit­ted to the col­lec­tive defense, and each sure that what­ev­er the future brings, we will face it stand­ing shoul­der-to-shoul­der.”

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