Cyberstrategy for US Military Expected to Be Unveiled Soon

The military’s new cyberstrategy is expected to be unveiled soon. It will not only lay out a comprehensive plan to secure military computers networks, but will also designate cyberspace as a battleground comparable to air, land, and sea.

The strategy’s contents were outlined by Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn last year, but little has been revealed since. It was announced in September 2009 just after Iran revealed its Bushehr nuclear power plant was hit by Stuxnet, a cyberweapon that was able to destroy several nuclear centrifuges.

Lynn stated that the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security were developing an international cyberstrategy that would include “various initiatives to defend the United States in the digital age.” He stated that military and civilian networks are being probed “thousands of times and scanned millions of times,” each day, and “Adversaries have acquired thousands of files from U.S. networks” including weapons blueprints and operations plans.

He gave a clearer view of the strategy during an Oct. 1, 2009, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) event. The strategy will include five pillars, including active cybersdefense, protection of critical infrastructure, and using “a Cold War concept” to share information with allies.

It is possible the strategy ties closely with what was announced at the NATO Lisbon Summit in December 2010, particularly the formation of coalitions mentioned by both Lynn and by NATO reports. Although details on both strategies remain vague, as they are still being developed, the outlines are similar.

The NATO strategy, likewise, will include “bringing all NATO bodies under centralized cyberprotection, and better integrating NATO cyber-awareness, warning, and response with member nations,” stated NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in a press release. It will also focus on protecting critical infrastructure.

The final U.S. strategy may be different from what was originally discussed, and the full breadth of what’s to come may or may not be completely revealed to the public. What is certain, however, is that cyberwarfare will play a major role in future military conflict, and the new strategy will be more of a trumpet ushering in a new era of warfare.

Even without a major, public strategy, the U.S. military has already taken a strong stance in the digital world. As far back as 1994, the United States was discussing cyberwarfare and cyberdefense in a conference on “information war,” according to John Bumgarner, chief technology officer of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, an independent research institute on cyber-attacks.

“The U.S. isn’t just entering the cyberwar arena, they’re just announcing their intentions publicly.” Bumgarner said in a phone interview.

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