Alexander Cites Need for Greater Cyber Defenses
Alexander Cites Need for Greater Cyber
By Donna Miles,
American Forces Press Service.
Linthicum, Maryland -- (AFPS)
September 13, 2011 – Citing the high rate of intrusions against Defense
Department networks, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command today said his biggest
concern is the threat of destructive attacks yet to be seen.
A destructive attack from cyberspace “is coming, in my opinion,” Army Gen. Keith
B. Alexander told military, government, industry and academic professionals at a
conference here called “Maneuvering in Cyberspace.”
“It is a question of time,” he said. “What we don’t know is how far out it is,”
and whether it will target commercial infrastructure, government networks or
Alexander, who also serves as director of the National Security Agency,
recognized both the “tremendous opportunities and tremendous vulnerabilities”
created through network-enabled technologies.
Just as the United States has been on the leading edge in developing many of
these capabilities, Alexander said it also needs to be a leader in defending
against cyber threats.
“We were the country that developed the Internet, the iPhone, the iPad [and]
some of these other great technologies,” he said. “We ought to be the first to
That, Alexander said, begins with education so people understand the extent of
the threats, and the need for a coordinated effort to confront it.
“Cyber [security] is a team sport,” Alexander said. “We have to work within the
Defense Department as a team, and the Defense Department, with other agencies as
a team, … and we have to strengthen our public-private partnerships.”
Cyber threats represent “a problem on a massive scale that affects every
industry and sector of the economy and government,” Alexander said. “So we have
to get out in front.”
The cost of cyber crime to the global economy is estimated at $1 trillion. “What
has been going on over the last few years in the network is the greatest theft
that we have seen in history,” he said.
Meanwhile, malware is being introduced at a rate of 55,000 pieces per day, or
one per second.
As troubling as these statistics may be, Alexander said his bigger concern is,
“what’s coming: a destructive element.”
Both the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace, issued in May, and the
Defense Department cyber strategy, released in July, recognize the importance of
defending U.S. networks. This includes taking offensive action in the event of a
For now, Alexander said his focus is on improving defenses to reduce that
“We live in a glass house,” he said. “In cyber, we have not yet solved the
defensive portion. From my perspective, there is a lot we can do to face that
before we take offensive actions.”
Alexander cited the Defense Industrial Base Cyber Pilot as a step in the right
direction. The program authorizes the Defense Department to share classified
threat intelligence with participating defense contractors or their commercial
Internet service providers so they can increase their cyber defenses and prevent
enemy intrusions into sensitive government networks.
As the department and its partners seek other ways to boost cyber defenses,
Alexander emphasized that it won’t do so at the cost of civil liberties and
“I do not see us having to give up civil liberties or privacy to have cyber
security,” he said. “They can and must go together. And I think [that is how] we
have to approach them.”
Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander
U.S. Cyber Command
See also :
The Pentagon's Cyberstrategy One Year Later : defending Against Next Cyberattack
by William J.
Lynn III, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, in Foreign Affairs,
September 28. 2011. More destructive cyberweapons are being created every day,
and an increasingly sophisticated technology black market virtually guarantees
that they will eventually land in the hands of the United States' enemies.
Robust defenses are no longer a luxury, they are a necessity.
Defending a New Domain : The Pentagon's Cyberstrategy, by
Lynn III, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Nicholas Thompson, in
Foreign Affairs, September 28. 2011. Deputy Secretary of Defense William
Lynn discusses the various new strategies used by the Pentagon to identify
information technology threats, combat cyber warfare, and protect U.S.