Military cyber chief: Meeting the cyberspace challenge

Posted in United States , Peace and Conflict | 11-Jun-10 | Author: Jim Kouri| Source: examiner.com

General Keith Alexander is the newly appointed "cyberspace commander."

Cyberspace will provide "tremendous opportunities for the future, but also tremendous vulnerabilities," the commander of U.S. Cyber Command said yesterday in a report from Donna Miles of the American Forces Press Service.

Citing the explosion in use of the Internet, email, social networking and instant messaging sites, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander told the Center for Strategic and International Studies here that protecting the computer networks through which they pass is essential to U.S. national security, according to Miles' report which was obtained by the Terrorism Committee of the National Association of Chiefs of Police.

Cyberspace has become a critical enabler for all elements of national and military power, Alexander said.

"As President [Barack] Obama's national security strategy states, our digital infrastructure, therefore, is a strategic national asset and protecting it while safeguarding privacy and civil liberties is a national security priority," he said.

America's wealth and strength make it a particularly attractive target in cyberspace, he told the group.

"And one of the pillars of that strength, our military, is at risk to perhaps an even greater degree," he said, citing the military's dependence on its network for everything from command and control to communications, intelligence, operations and logistics.

Alexander cited the vastness of the military's computer systems: more than 7 million machines, linked in 15,000 networks, with 21 satellite gateways and 20,000 commercial circuits composed of countless devices and components, according to Miles' report.

Unauthorized users probe these systems 250,000 times an hour and more than 6 million times a day, he said. And "while our front line defenses are up to this challenge," Alexander expressed concern about threats to network security from a growing array of foreign actors, terrorists, criminal groups and individual hackers.

"Our data must be protected," he told the CSIS group. "We have an enormous challenge ahead of us as a nation, as a department and as a command."

In the upcoming months, Cyber Command will go to work on a more comprehensive department-wide approach to cyberspace, and it also will take on the task of centralizing the command, he said.

Alexander said he also will aim to improve partnerships with other U.S. government agencies.
Ultimately, clear rules of engagement - agreed to by the international community - are needed to establish laws and responsibilities for operating in cyberspace. "That will go a long way" toward deterring malicious actors in cyberspace, he said.

Alexander cited the people of Cyber Command and the National Security Agency as key in meeting the cyber challenge, emphasizing the importance of recruiting, training and retaining the best talent to operate effectively in cyberspace.

"Cyberspace is among the most important current and future challenges the DoD and our nation faces," he said. "It is a privilege and an honor to be part of our cyber team."

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.

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