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Friday, February 22, 2013

Urgency grows to blend cyber, physical combat

Cybersecurity’s prominence has skyrocketed in recent months, and as focus ramps up in Congress, the executive branch and the military, that trend will only continue.  Dealing with it requires a change in approach that fuses what have until now been distinct lines of operation. “Right now we’re being asked to look at potential consequences of attacks on [critical infrastructure] and prioritize…from a cyber perspective,” said Suzanne Spaulding, deputy undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate at the Homeland Security Department. 22 AFCEA DC cybersecurity symposium in Washington, pointed out that at DHS, this idea already is under way in the form of integrated task forces for assessing risks and implementing policies.

“We’re pulling in cyber and physical folks to do joint assessments, looking at what are the cyber vulnerabilities, what are the physical vulnerabilities, how do they relate to each other, and importantly, what are the cascading effects?”

An alignment of policies and actions in cybersecurity is happening across the government, recently evidenced by mandates for cooperation and information-sharing rolled out in President Barack Obama’s executive order and accompanying presidential policy directive. On the military side, a parallel alignment is taking place as well, but it has required a careful consideration of core missions and how to meet their requirements, according to one Defense Department official.

“So one thing we needed to do in defining the missions…we needed to align forces, capability and capacity to each one of the missions.”

Those missions – defending national security against cyber threats, securing the DOD information network and supporting combatant commands – are still being tweaked at CyberCom, now in its third year of full operation.


Posted on 02/22