Much as the prescient 1984 science fiction classic Neuromancer predicted, the next great war will likely be waged less in the physical world and more in cyberspace. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and intelligence agencies are slowly adapting to this mindset. However, they lag badly behind the world's largest and most dangerous cyber-military power -- China. In an effort to expand its cyberdefense against such powerful aggressors, the U.S. Military is shifting money and spending from international operations to domestic defense. The Pentagon's cyber policy chief, Robert Butler, reveals that the DoD has signed a new domestic cyber-security agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Mr. Butler, also deputy assistant defense secretary, says that the agreement "sets up an opportunity for DHS to take advantage of the expertise." The DHS will still lead the U.S.'s cyberdefense, but the military will now step in and provide cyberdefensive expertise both to various government entities and to a handful of critical public corporations. One of the growing challenges that the DoD hopes to address is the subtleties of cyberwar. Right now the U.S. government is struggling about whether to categorize certain intrusions as benign or malicious. The picture is not clear cut as in the real world -- intrusions could be a harmless ruse or exercise -- or they could be a scheme to steal critical info or set up mechanisms to disable critical infrastructure. States Mr. Butler, "As we move forward, one of the key things we have is to agree on is the taxonomy." The other unspoken difficulty is how to balance preserving civil liberties in the U.S. with the need for increased electronic surveillance. U.S. citizens have the constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy and due process. Some recent court mandates and policies have erased some of those rights raising serious questions about the nation's current legislative and judicial direction. The DoD effort shouldn't run into many of these issues, though, as it's constrained largely to protecting the government's domestic systems, and a handful of key corporate partners. Unless you're intent on committing an illegal cyberintrusion in a branch of government you should have little to worry about. The need for government intervention to protect the cyber-interests of key civilian contractors seems apparent. A fine example is in Lockheed Martin's recent data breach, in which servers involved with the critical F-35 Lightning II fighter project were infiltrated by foreign cyberspies. The F-35 Lightning II is to become the backbone of the U.S.'s air defense and stolen electronic information could give the nation's foes an inside track to developing countermeasures to exploit its weaknesses.
quote: The F-35 Lightning II is to become the backbone of the U.S.'s air defense and stolen electronic information could give the nation's foes an inside track to developing countermeasures to exploit its weaknesses.