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[ISN] Could you continue to operate under cyberattack?


By William Jackson
Feb 24, 2012

I try to be cautious with my use of the term âcyber war.â It is used much too often to describe any type of unpleasant online activity, and its misuse confuses our thinking about the very real threats of military engagement in cyberspace. But there is at least one area in which the military model of operation can be a useful model in cybersecurity.

In an IT environment where compromise is becoming inevitable, the concept of mitigating damage while operating in a degraded environment is becoming increasingly applicable.

An army does its best to protect itself from attack, but military leaders understand that when battle comes they will suffer losses and will be fighting under less-than-optimal conditions, often in situations not of their choosing. An army that cannot continue to operate under those conditions will likely lose the battle.

IT security traditionally has focused on defense, originally copying the military concept of a secure perimeter and defense in depth with multiple lines of protection. This concept has become less practical with the blurring or elimination of a recognizable perimeter in the enterprise. Attention has shifted to the security of individual components or functions of the enterprise, such as data, communications and access. But the stance still is defensive, and response is almost an afterthought.


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