U.S. Should Lead
Cybersecurity Efforts, NSA Director Says
By Amaani Lyle, American Forces
Washington D.C. – (AFPS)
– October 4, 2012 – Analyzing and solving the challenge of cybersecurity is
critical to the global economy, the National Security Agency director said
during the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Cybersecurity Summit here today.
U.S. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who also heads U.S. Cyber
Command and the Central Security Service, discussed the costs and consequences
of cybersecurity issues on commerce during his keynote address at the summit.
Well-known, seemingly invulnerable companies such as Symantec,
L3, Sony, Google, Visa and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce itself have been
hacked, Alexander said, noting that even the military and government agencies
have fallen prey to hackers.
“Either you know you’ve been hacked, or you’ve been hacked
and you don’t know you’ve been hacked,” Alexander said. The greatest threats
stem from theft of intellectual property, and disruptive attacks, Alexander said,
citing examples since May 2007 that include attacks against Estonia, Georgia,
Latvia and Lithuania. “Distributed denial of service attacks … are gaining in
momentum, intensity and frequency,” he said, emphasizing the urgency of
defending the United States from attacks and exploitation.
Industry partnership with government agencies such as the
Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Bureau of
Investigation to counter threats will be a critical component of fortifying
cybersecurity, Alexander said, noting that U.S. should develop the solution.
“Our country … built this Internet and all the stuff that
goes with it, and it is absolutely superb,” Alexander said. “We’re the nation
that developed the Internet; we ought to be the first to secure it.”
According to Alexander, last year, the average number of
emails sent per day was 419,000 billion, or about 70 emails per person.
Additionally, there were 4.7 billion Google searches per day and still billions
of steadily increasing bytes of global traffic, the general explained.
From a commerce perspective, the growth of new major
companies in less than a decade demonstrates the importance of protecting
intellectual property and proprietary information, Alexander said. The general
offered compelling examples of growth and how quickly it could have been stymied
if privileged information had been compromised.
In 2002, he said, Amazon was worth $851 million, compared to
$12.83 billion today. Apple, worth $5.7 billion in 2002, is now worth a
staggering $148 billion today. Google, worth $3.1 billion in 2004, is now valued
at $43 billion in 2012, he said. “The value … is extraordinary,” Alexander said,
adding that the government depends on similar networks to defend the country.
“If we’ve all been hacked, that means that we can all be
attacked, and if we can be attacked, we have a vulnerability that … is critical
to the operation of this country,” the general said.
Education, training and a defensible architecture such as
cloud computing, however, can help steel government networks from such
vulnerabilities, Alexander explained. “The cloud … has tremendous opportunities
for a more defensible architecture,” Alexander said. “So … the Defense
Department and the [intelligence] community moving to a thin, virtual client
approach makes a lot of sense.”
Alexander also noted the importance of military, government
and industry developing a common view of cyberspace issues and their solutions.
“We have to have that understanding, especially when you talk to your [chief
executive officers] and others about the solutions that you’re trying to put in
there,” he said.
Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander
National Security Agency
Central Security Service
Special Report: Cybersecurity