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[ISN] Lynn: Cyberspace is the New Domain of Warfare
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
Oct. 18, 2010
With the creation of the U.S. Cyber Command in May and last weekâs
cybersecurity agreement between the departments of Defense and Homeland
Security, DOD is ready to add cyberspace to sea, land, air and space as
the latest domain of warfare, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn
âInformation technology provides us with critical advantages in all of
our warfighting domains so we need to protect cyberspace to enable those
advantages,â Lynn said during an Oct. 14 Pentagon Channel interview
Adversaries may be able to undermine the militaryâs advantages in
conventional areas, Lynn said, by attacking the nationâs military and
commercial information technology, or IT, infrastructure.
This threat has âopened up a whole new asymmetry in future warfare,â the
deputy defense secretary said.
DODâs focus on cyberdefense began in 2008 with a previously classified
incident in the Middle East in which a flash drive inserted malware into
classified military networks, Lynn said.
âWe realized we couldnât rely on passive defenses and firewalls and
software patches, and weâve developed a more-layered defense,â he said.
Lynn laid out a draft cyberstrategy in the September/October issue of
âForeign Affairsâ magazine. He said DOD is working to finalize the
âThereâs no agreed-on definition of what constitutes a cyberattack,â
Lynn said. âItâs really a range of things that can happen -- from
exploitation and exfiltration of data to degradation of networks to
destruction of networks or even physical equipment, physical property.
What weâre doing in our defense cyberstrategy is developing appropriate
responses and defenses for each of those types of attacks.â
One element of the strategy â- working with Homeland Defense to protect
critical military and civilian IT infrastructure -â was put into place
Oct. 13, when Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Homeland Security
Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a new agreement to work together on
The agreement includes a formal mechanism for benefiting from the
technical expertise of the National Security Agency, or NSA, which is
responsible for protecting national security systems, collecting related
foreign intelligence, and enabling network warfare.
Another element is what Lynn calls a âlayered defense, where you have
intrusion detection and firewalls but you also have a â layer that helps
defend against attacks.â
In his draft strategy, Lynn describes the defense-layer component of
cybersecurity in terms of NSA-pioneered systems that âautomatically
deploy defenses to counter intrusions in real time. Part sensor, part
sentry, part sharpshooter, these active defense systems represent a
fundamental shift in the U.S. approach to network defense.â
And, since no cyberdefense system is perfect, DOD requires âmultiple
layers of defense that give us better assurance of capturing malware
before it gets to us,â Lynn said.
âWe need the ability to hunt on our own networks to get [intruders] that
might get through and we need to continually improve our defenses,â he
continued. âWe canât stand still. The technology is going to continue to
advance and we have to keep pace with it.â
Envisioned attacks on military networks could impair military power,
national security and the economy, Lynn said.
Enemy cyberattacks could deprive the military of the ability to strike
with precision and communicate among forces and with headquarters, he
said, and it could impair logistics or transportation networks and
eliminate advantages that information technology has given military
âBeyond that, cyberattacks conceivably could threaten the national
economy if [adversaries] were to go after the power grid or financial
networks or transportation networks, and that, too, would be a national
security challenge,â Lynn said. âAnd over the long run thereâs a threat
to our intellectual property â basically a theft of the life blood of
Working more closely with allies is an important element of the
strategy, he said, to ensure a shared defense and an early warning
The NATO 2020 report rightly identified the need for the allianceâs new
10-year strategic concept -- a draft of which is an expected product of
the 2010 NATO Summit slated for Nov. 19-20 in Lisbon, Portugal â- to
further incorporate cyberdefense concepts Lynn wrote about in Foreign
U.S. technological advantages are a critical part of the cyberstrategy
and the Pentagon already is working with industry and with the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency to put these to work, Lynn said.
As part of a public-private partnership called the Enduring Security
Framework, Lynn wrote in his Foreign Affairs article, chief executive
officers and chief technology officers of major IT and defense companies
meet regularly with top officials from Defense, Homeland Security and
the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
DARPA also is working on the National Cyber Range, a simulated model of
the Internet that will enable the military to test its cyberdefenses
before deploying them in the field.
The Pentagonâs IT acquisition process also has to change, Lynn wrote in
Foreign Affairs. It took Apple Inc. 24 months to develop the iPhone, he
said, and at DOD it takes on average about 81 months to develop and
field a new computer system after it is funded.
âThe Pentagon is developing a specific acquisition track for information
technology,â Lynn wrote in Foreign Affairs, and it also is bolstering
the number of cyberdefense experts who will lead the charge into the new
The militaryâs global communications backbone consists of 15,000
networks and 7 million computing devices across hundreds of
installations in dozens of countries, Lynn wrote. More than 90,000
people work full time to maintain it, he said, but more are needed.
Through the establishment of U.S. Cyber Command and the bolstering of
cybersecurity at other defense agencies âweâve greatly increased the
number of cyber professionals we have at DOD and will continue to
increase that,â Lynn told the Pentagon Channel.â
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