New DoD strategy gets serious on cybersecurity

Retired Lieutenant General Harry Raduege

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By Jory Heckman Federal News Radio

The Department of Defense is getting serious about cybersecurity but promises cyber warfare isn’t on the horizon.

DoD’s new strategy for operating in cyberspace sets forth a policy that toes the line with other national security measures.

“This strategy sets out the direction for the Department of Defense, and it emphasizes that the Department of Defense operations in cyberspace should be conducted as...

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By Jory Heckman
Federal News Radio

The Department of Defense is getting serious about cybersecurity but promises cyber warfare isn’t on the horizon.

DoD’s new strategy for operating in cyberspace sets forth a policy that toes the line with other national security measures.

“This strategy sets out the direction for the Department of Defense, and it emphasizes that the Department of Defense operations in cyberspace should be conducted as another domain that we’ve been operating in for many, many years, like land, sea, air, and space. That’s why we refer to cyberspace as the ‘fifth domain,'” said retired Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege, a former DoD cyber chief and current chairman of the Deloitte Center for Cyber Innovation, in an interview with Federal News Radio.

“I think this strategy points out the fact that this is a dynamically changing environment, and we need to rigorously employ the constantly evolving operational concepts that are required by operations in cyberspace,” he said.

Raduege said that to keep hackers guessing, DoD’s cyber strategy omits specific details about how it plans to monitor security threats. Those details are included in the classified concept of operations, he said.

Pinning down a specific plan of action in the strategy also doesn’t reflect the constantly changing landscape of cybersecurity.

“It’s probably why we have taken a number of years to plan out a strategy such as this, that it [cybersecurity] is comprehensive in nature,” he said.

Raduege said that DoD has been brainstorming on a strategy since the late 1990s, when the Pentagon was the subject of many attempted attacks. Plans have been revised, however, to adapt to mobile connectivity.

“Anyone who uses a computer or a digital device these days is benefiting from the capabilities that connectivity provides, but that also makes them more susceptible to the vulnerabilities that are coming from the outside, and the attacks are growing in intensity and magnitude,” he said.

Because of its sensitive information, however, Raduege said that DoD has always been a prime target for hackers.

“The sharing of information is prominent throughout the Department of Defense, and thus when you open yourself up to ideas and sharing information among others, you’re going to be susceptible to those who are going to try and either disrupt that, learn from that, create some sort of nuisance to you,” he said.

While DoD takes hacking attempts seriously, the new strategy explicitly avoids any call for full-scale cyber warfare.

“Certainly, the DoD is a small user of the global Internet, and any implication that we are trying to militarize cyberspace is not in our best interests, and not what we’re trying to do,” Raduege said. “But certainly there are activities and actions that are taken as far as more sophisticated [attack] operations that will be contained in probably in other documents that will not be readily available.”

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Jory Heckman is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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