US Cyber Chief: We are fighting a “tide of criminality”

DoD budget includes $3.4 billion for all manner of cyber security

Army Gen. Keith Alexander
What the government is doing and how much money it is spending to protect cyberspace was again the subject of a congressional hearing this week as top execs in the Department of Defense detailed what they would be doing with the $3.4 billion cyber security portion of their 2013 budget request.

For example, Teresa Takai, DOD's chief information officer told the House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities that the agency's overall $37 billion information technology budget request for 2013 includes a range of IT investments, including the $3.4 billion for cyber security to protect information, information systems and networks against known cyber vulnerabilities.  It also includes $182 million for Cyber Command for network defense, cryptographic systems, communications security, network resiliency, workforce development, and development of cyber security standards and technologies department-wide, she stated.

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A key portion of the DoD's plan is a move to a single, joint network architecture allowing the agency and Cyber Command better visibility into network activity and better defense against cyber-attacks. The department has made significant progress in several areas.  One effort involved deploying a host-based security system that enhances situational awareness of the network and improves the ability to detect, diagnose and react to cyber intrusions, Takai said.

Despite improvements and the money its going to take to continue the cyber security effort, the industry is really at the beginning of the battle.

"Nation-state actors in cyberspace are riding a tide of criminality.  Several nations have turned their resources and power against us and foreign businesses and enterprises, even those that manage critical infrastructure in this country, and others," Army Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency told the committee.  "I think we're making progress," Alexander said, "but the risks that face our country are growing faster than our progress and we have to work hard on that."

Alexander described five key areas Cyber Command is working on:

  • Building the enterprise and training the force;
  • Developing a defensible architecture;
  • Getting authorities needed to operate in cyberspace;
  • Setting the teamwork properly across U.S. government agencies; and
  • Creating a concept of operations for operating in cyberspace.

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