The Pentagon’s New Cyber Warriors

In a special report, dated October 5, 2010, Jim Wolf of Reuters reports that the U.S. military "is preparing for digital combat even more extensively that has been made public."  Based on "dozens of interviews with military officers, government officials and outside experts," the report states that one of the Pentagon's primary (and more controversial) objectives is "keep[ing] the nation's lifeblood industries safe."  

According to Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn, "'The best-laid defenses on military networks will matter little unless out civilian critical infrastructure is also able to withstand attacks.'"  "Any major conflict, he says, inevitably will involve cuber warfare that could knock out power, transport and banks, causing 'massive' economic disruption."  

Recent concerns caused by Stuxnet, as well as recent alleged Russian and Chinese penetrations of the U.S. electricity grid, have led to the "Pentagon's push to put civilian infrastructure under its wing by creating a cyber realm walled off from the rest of the Internet.  It would feature 'active' perimeter defenses, including intrusion monitoring and scanning technology, at its interface with the public internet, much like the Pentagon's 'dot.mil' domain," which supports more than 15,000 Defense Department networks.  

"The head of the military's new Cyber Command, Army General Keith Alexander [and Syracuse, NY native] says setting [up the wall around the civilian infrastructure] would be straightforward technically.  He calls it a 'secure zone, a protected zone.'  Others have dubbed the idea 'dot.secure.'"

Others, however, see the "dot.secure" proposal as nothing more than an expensive bullseye. According to Richard Bejtlich, General Electric Co.'s director of incident response "'Dot.secure becomes the new Target One.  I can't think of an easier way to help an adversary target the most critical information on industry computers.'"

Others such as Greg Neichin of Cleantech Group, LLC, a San Fransisco-based research firm, points out that utility companies are already well prepared.  "'Private industry is throwing huge sums at this already,'" he says.  "'What is the gain from government involvement?'" 

Additionally, a potential turf war appears to be in the making.  According to "[General] Alexander[,] the White House is considering whether to ask Congress for new authorities as part of a revised team approach to cyber threats that would also involve the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department."  Increased involvement from these varying agencies has raised the question: "who's in charge?"  Competing rhetoric may be the first indication of possible friction.  Homeland Secretary Jane Lute is quoted in the special report as saying: 

"'We have to depart from the romantic notion of cyberspace as the Wild Wild West.  Or the scary notion of cyberspace as a combat zone.  The goal here is not control, it's confidence.'"

 

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The full text of the special report can be found at the link above, or here.  

 

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Authors

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. She is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

is 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

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