Look, we all know the Pentagon is seeking cyber weapons. For defensive purposes only, of course, not for playing dirty cyber tricks on enemies of the state (Stuxnet, anyone?). But it's a bit strange when the military does it so openly. For instance, when it submits a request into the public domain saying "please build us cyber weapons." Which is what the Air Force just did.
To combat cyber attacks, the U.S. may need more than new cyber defenses. It might need a whole new piece of Internet infrastructure. So says former CIA director Michael Hayden, who served under President G.W. Bush, and he’s not the only one. Several lawmakers and the current Cyber Command chief Gen. Keith Alexander are toying with the notion of creating a “.secure” domain where Fourth Amendment rights to privacy are voluntarily foregone in order to keep that corner of the Internet free of cyber criminals.
The cyber-security cat is slowly slinking out of the bag, it seems. It's been a big month in cybersecurity news, ranging from some high-profile hacks at companies like Lockheed (home to sensitive American defense technologies) and a declaration from the Pentagon that cyber attacks perpetrated by foreign governments can be considered acts of war and dealt with accordingly.
The Stuxnet worm has generated plenty of commentary from computer industry experts and security pundits, but yesterday the U.S. government’s senior cybersecurity expert at the Department of Homeland Security weighed in, calling the malicious program a “game changer” in cyber warfare. The head of the DHS’s Cybersecurity Center, Sean McGurk, made the statement to the Senate Homeland Security Committee Wednesday.
The Senate has confirmed General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, to lead the Pentagon's new cyber command. The command, which is planned to be operational in October, will be conveniently based at NSA headquarters.
The command will be responsible for defending the nation against computer attacks from abroad, and also for attacking enemy computer networks.
While various cyber-attacks against US government and business targets are numerous and well-documented, America's own offensive capabilities in this area have remained mostly out of view. However, in his recent testimony before Congress, NSA chief Lt. General Keith Alexander reversed that history a bit, and confirmed that the US has, and is, engaged in offensive cyber-warfare. Alexander also explicated how cyber-combat factors into the general doctrine of legality of war.