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Rose Gottemoeller said the next generation will change how cyber defense is handled

A U.S. government official said that cyber defense has been slow-moving due to the current generation of policymaker's lack of technological understanding.

Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. Acting Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, recently visited the Estonian IT College in Tallinn to deliver a speech about cyber attacks and defense. In this lecture, she noted that a major issue with current cyber defense is the fact that many policymakers around the world don't fully understand technology used today.

"The truth is there are a lot of senior officials in many countries who barely even know how to use an email," said Gottemoeller. "The change will come with the new generation."

Gottemoeller also mentioned that open-source IT and social networking should be integrated into arms control verification.

"In order to pursue the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons, we are going to have to think bigger and bolder," said Gottemoeller. "New concepts are not invented overnight, and we don't understand the full range of possibilities inherent in the information age, but we would be remiss if we did not start thinking about whether new technologies can augment over half a century of arms control negotiating expertise."

Cyber defense has been placed under the spotlight now more than ever with threats recently directed toward both government and corporate entities. Last year, a string of attacks pinpointed many victims like Sony, Bank of America, the Department of Justice, Lockheed Martin, and many more.

Many U.S. officials have called for more cyber defense transparency in the recent past between the government and private sector, where one could help the other and vice versa. For instance, both former CIA/NSA head Michael Hayden and ex-Marine Corps General James Cartwright agreed that cyber security threats are overclassified.

Source: Defense News

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Current generation of people lack understanding
By Hakuryu on 4/3/2012 1:07:39 PM , Rating: 5
My cousin that just got out of college 2 years ago (business degree) had no idea you could watch cable TV on your PC.

A neighbor still using a 2000ish HP, never heard of antivirus or a firewall, and had no idea she had to update software.

A new programmer where I used to work didn't understand how to use DOS (command line) to browse servers where we kept test data.

There are alot of people who lack understanding, even those in IT fields. Why would it come as a surprise the goverment has little tech savvy?

RE: Current generation of people lack understanding
By danjw1 on 4/3/2012 1:32:15 PM , Rating: 2
DOS!=Command Line. You really run DOS on a server? I would think it would more likely be Linux, logging in with a terminal application.

By Shig on 4/3/2012 1:40:16 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder how many of them know or understand what Moore's Law is or the fact that computer technology generally improves ~1000x every 10 years.

Just go look at the average age of the US senators in office right now. Most senators take office in their early 50's, which I like. But then they stay in office until their late 60's, 70's, and 80's, which I don't like.

By Hakuryu on 4/3/2012 1:58:53 PM , Rating: 2
cmd.exe opens a window which is basically DOS in a window. Same commands, same functionality, and just easier to call both DOS so as not to confuse people. Yes I know what DOS is (and still own my original floppies).

You like trying to explain concepts to computer-illiterate people? If it looks the same and acts the same, then it will save me headaches to refer to cmd.exe as DOS to people trying to learn.

By Samus on 4/4/2012 2:32:16 AM , Rating: 2
Basically the only thing kids are more tech savvy with over the last generation is typing skills. Thank texting for that, not the education system.

RE: Current generation of people lack understanding
By nafhan on 4/3/2012 2:19:44 PM , Rating: 2
Windows has a command line, too! It's arguably not as easy to use or as powerful as bash/ksh, but it's there, and it's better than it was before PowerShell. You're probably right, though. If it was Windows, he'd probably be using RDP - not a command line.

Also... addressing the parent posts "incompetent youngsters" statement: someone who went to school to learn "programming"/comp sci will not necessarily learn basic sys-admin tasks. The guy could absolutely be a competent programmer, and not know how to do that. He should be able to pick it up quickly, though; otherwise... you should worry.

By Autisticgramma on 4/24/2012 1:41:02 PM , Rating: 2
I've made a career of supporting coders, easier to deal with than seniors. Infinitely more dangerous tho.

Additionally, while coders are 'computer people' to the rest of the world, to a sys admin they're Fox News: Full of information, just most of it doesn't pertain to... anyone, least of all the layman user.

By RedemptionAD on 4/3/2012 6:52:21 PM , Rating: 2
Most people used MS-DOS back in the day. And DOS stands for Disc Operated System so unless its a SSD technically it is still in use today. Meaning hard disc drive. Most people in general even my age (mid to late twentys) don't know more than the basics email, facebook, or(insert trend of the moment). Outside of that most people don't know anything about technology. Policy makers don't know anything about most of what actually right policy on. They rely on advisors for just about everything. They are just about all lawyers and that is how most lawyers offices are run as well, legal aids, and paralegals do all the actual work. The lawyer just has to be able to put on a good show as far as what the other peoples work tells them.

Think about how many computers many people on here have had to fix or were blamed because so and so's 12 year old knows so much more than the person whos computer you just fixed, when in fact they only know enough about them to be dangerous?

By fic2 on 4/3/2012 4:16:57 PM , Rating: 2
H3ll. I have worked with someone who had a MSCS that didn't understand why she couldn't compile her C++ code on a Solaris system and have it work on a Windows or Mac. Did not understand what a cross compiler was or why different cpus had different instruction sets.

And she wasn't the most computer illiterate "computer" person that I have worked with.

By arazok on 4/3/2012 5:38:50 PM , Rating: 2
In my experience, most programmers aren't very savy at what they do either. They just produce crap that appears to work well.

My IT manager's jaw dropped when I showed her how I could drop any table I wanted by typing SQL commands in the URL. She had never heard of injection attacks. (She did nothing about it I might add)

She also told me that typed datasets were a bad idea because they offered to many options in intellisence. I got a DailyWTF article writen about that one!

RE: Current generation of people lack understanding
By TSS on 4/3/2012 7:47:24 PM , Rating: 1
I shudder what will happen when the new generation comes into power. I was on the end of the last generation (born in 1987) and i've seen the switch. When i was in highschool, i did the highest level but had to do my 2nd freshmen year again. From my first year, only 3 (including me and i simply didn't put in any effort) failed and had to do the year over, the other 2 opting to just stream ahead into a lower level. This was pretty much average each year up to that point.

The next year, a whopping 9 out of 21 kids failed that level and streamed to a lower level.

I saw it again in college. The end of my 3rd year when carrying over a project to the next students. While our class was a rowdy bunch, not taking out notebooks and basically always complaining about the abysmal state of the education we where getting, the next year students (already in the classroom when we entered) where all sitting neatly at tables, notebooks open, pens at the ready. Like they where actually going to learn usefull information. The teachers commented earlyer on in that year how the new class was such a difference from us and listened and wrote things down. In their words, it was "almost scary".

Problem is though, everything you learned at that education was total and utter crap. Out of 4 years, i remembered 5 tricks in how to do things that i didn't teach myself, i applied all 5 in business and all 5 where wrong. Everything else was so wrong or out of date i didn't bother to remember. For god saskes i spent 2003 till februari 2006 doing windows 98 and windows NT! And these kids where gobbling it all up like it was the definitive word. No talkback, no critizism, no creative thinking. Just did what they where told.

I did visit my school a couple of years later and inquired about the project we had left behind. When we got it, it was basically a shoddy student run service desk without even a own classroom. When i left it, it was fully up and running with plans to take over the IT education's network, start a hardware division and make money off of it involving lower level educations and a external department where students could go on assignments for the school and make some extra money for the budget to update outdated machines. The plan for it was all written out and i left it with them (200 pages of it, condensed).

The first year had done reasonably well (appearantly, they had followed the plan). After the 2nd year however, the entire project crashed, the students failed to do anything with it and by the end of the year it had ceased to exist.

I have no clue what happened, or who is to blame, or how to fix this (the generation thing i mean). All i know is, it's going to be epic fail.

By Crazyeyeskillah on 4/4/2012 11:29:31 AM , Rating: 2
I honestly can't understand a word of what you are saying TSS. None of the sentences seem to really be logical. I understand if English is your second (or more) language but this is just boggling. Could you just sum it up in a few less words so that we can add it to the discussion?

Subject here
By kjboughton on 4/3/2012 1:28:33 PM , Rating: 5
U.S. Gov Official: Current Generation of Policymakers Lack Understanding

That's all that's needed.

RE: Subject here
By FITCamaro on 4/3/2012 1:58:28 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty much. Hence why a small, limited government is needed. These people have no idea about 90% of the things they pass laws on. They either follow an ideological agenda or they rely on "experts" who do.

And its both sides. So how do you fix it entirely? Don't let them go beyond their authority at all and micromanage everything.

RE: Subject here
By bah12 on 4/3/2012 3:55:00 PM , Rating: 2
So how do you fix it entirely?
Or bloody coup...jk of course.

RE: Subject here
By fic2 on 4/3/2012 4:13:35 PM , Rating: 3
They either follow an ideological agenda or they rely on "experts" who give them a bag of money .

fixed that for you....

RE: Subject here
By FITCamaro on 4/3/2012 5:53:29 PM , Rating: 2
However you want to look at it. If you hold their feet to the fire for overreaching period, then you don't have to worry about it.

This is why the states are supposed to be handling much of what the federal government does today. That way people with one idea of how things should be run can live in a state where they can implement it and people who have other ideas can live in another state. The states were vastly different when this country was founded and they still are.

RE: Subject here
By Smartless on 4/3/2012 9:01:40 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah but what if you feel your State governments are full of dumber idiots than the Federal government. How sad is that? We had a State Senator who wanted to ban people with body odor from buses. At least when our US Reps and Sens come back, they are better educated. Sad our State.

RE: Subject here
By FITCamaro on 4/4/2012 7:50:48 AM , Rating: 2
It is incredibly easy to get rid of state representatives and senators. It is a matter of dozens of votes usually.

Not so with US Senators and House Representatives.

RE: Subject here
RE: Subject here
By TSS on 4/3/2012 7:51:53 PM , Rating: 1
I can't remember where and when i read it, though it was recent, but it was John McCain complaining about how the new generation lacked any knowledge or discipline. And how unscrupulous they where.

This is the guy the WROTE (had a big part in at least) the infinite detention NDAA, with some more damning passages then what actually got signed into law, grotesk as it was. And he's saying the next generation is going to be bad.

It's going to be real bad....

RE: Subject here
By Reclaimer77 on 4/3/2012 8:48:32 PM , Rating: 1
How exactly does that legislation contravene a generalize statement he was making about people lacking social discipline and knowledge? There's a huge disconnect between the two. So if you want to detain terrorists, you can't say this generation lacks discipline? What? That has literally nothing to do with anything, troll.

p.s. I'm going on the premise that he actually DID say it, since you couldn't bother to provide us with a link or source.

no subject
By Scabies on 4/3/2012 4:12:22 PM , Rating: 3
"The truth is there are a lot of senior officials in many countries who barely even know how to use an email," said Gottemoeller. " The change will come with the new generation. "

As long as we continue to follow the career politician model, no it wont.

RE: no subject
By WalksTheWalk on 4/3/2012 5:39:49 PM , Rating: 3
But isn't a person that makes a career out of their field just that much better at it?


No duh?
By muhahaaha on 4/3/2012 1:22:15 PM , Rating: 3
I spent 45 minutes on the phone with a technical recruiter yesterday explaining how the technology worked that was on the job description I was applying for. She was like "wow, I didn't know that".

What do you think your average technically challenged congressman or policymaker will know? LOL

RE: No duh?
By The0ne on 4/3/2012 2:48:09 PM , Rating: 2
Most recruiters don't know what they are looking for from the Employers description. They are just recruiters. The more specialized recruiters that focuses on a specific field will be much more able to properly speak with their potential clients. The regular ones like Aerotek and such will have little to no clue what's going on.

All you can do is sit there and try not to burst out laughing to ruin your chance.

By dgingerich on 4/3/2012 5:38:43 PM , Rating: 2

There are simply many people out there who are so incompetent that they can't comprehend that they are actually incompetent. (Harry Reid is a perfect example.) The problem is that most of the world population is also so incompetent that they elect officials that follow their own flawed logic.

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

RE: Competency
By WoWCow on 4/4/2012 2:54:30 AM , Rating: 2
The problem with failure is that it is subject to more attributional ambiguity than success. For success to occur, many things must go right: The person must be skilled, apply effort, and perhaps be a bit lucky. For failure to occur, the lack of any one of these components is sufficient. Because of this, even if people receive feedback that points to a lack of skill, they may attribute it to some other factor (Snyder, Higgins, & Stucky, 1983; Snyder, Shenkel, & Lowery, 1977).


All I want to say about...
By maveric7911 on 4/3/2012 7:39:45 PM , Rating: 2
this article is Duh. Who the heck is surprised?

Breaking News!
By WinstonSmith on 4/4/2012 9:09:59 AM , Rating: 2
"U.S. Gov Official: Current Generation of Policymakers Lack Understanding of Technology"

No ****, Sherlock? Talk about stating the obvious...

By Motoman on 4/3/2012 4:03:51 PM , Rating: 1
Current generation?


Try "the last several generations."

It's futile
By Beenthere on 4/3/2012 9:31:59 PM , Rating: 1
We have a charlatan with an unsecured Blackberry leading the country, people who care more about a TV show than their government and a government that is destroying the country because most people are oblivious to what's happening. We don't need to worry about foreign cyber terrorists, we have enough domestic terrorists in DC.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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