Pentagon to Establish Cyber Command

By Joseph Straw

The Pentagon is expected in the coming weeks to announce establishment of an operational command devoted to cybersecurity, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Department of Defense (DoD) is plans to unveil its plans along with release of the Obama Administration’s 60-day review of national cybersecurity, according to the article. Meanwhile, the White House is also expected to establish an internal office to oversee the issue.

In the context of national defense, responsibility for cybersecurity is shared by the National Security Agency (NSA) and, at DoD, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), resting primarily with the Air Force.

The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, is responsible for overall federal government cybersecurity, which is coordinated through the National Cyber Security Center.

Within DoD commands handle operations, in most cases on geographical bases, such as the Central Command, which operates in the Middle East and south Central Asia, most notably in Iraq and Afghanistan

Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence late in the Bush Administration, suggested a cyber command late last year after incidents including an attack originating in China that crashed the e-mail system in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Recent weeks have seen the issue of national cybersecurity pushed to the fore.

Speaking April 7 at a STRATCOM cybersecurity conference in Nebraska, commanding officer Gen. Kevin P. Chilton said the Pentagon had spent $100 million over the prior six months on cyberdefense. That same day, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which plans to impose cybersecurity standards on members, issued a memo to industry stakeholders questioning the thoroughness of assessments used to identify critical assets.

The next day the Journal reported foreign breaches of the national electrical grid, and this week reported hacking of networks used for developing the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter, the U.S. military’s next-generation strike fighter.

The disclosures have piqued many experts’ curiosity, concerning both their timing and the veracity of the threats and vulnerabilities they portray, as reported by ZDNet, Network World, Computerworld, Time magazine, and by Andy Greenberg and Lee Gomes at Forbes.


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