News / Science & Technology

US Cyber Command to Take Offensive

National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander speaks about cybersecurity and the new threats posed to the U.S. economy and military at the American Enterprise Institute July 9, 2012 in Washington, DC.  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP
National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander speaks about cybersecurity and the new threats posed to the U.S. economy and military at the American Enterprise Institute July 9, 2012 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP
The U.S. Department of Defense has made a rare acknowledgement that it is developing offensive cyber capabilities.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee this past week, Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, said 13 cyber warfare “teams” would be ready by 2015.

According to a prepared statement, the teams would be “analogous to battalions in the Army and Marine Corps—or squadrons in the Navy and Air Force.” Furthermore, “they will soon be capable of operating on their own, with a range of operational and intelligence skill sets, as well as a mix of military and civilian personnel.”

"Let me be clear, this defend-the-nation team is not a defensive team; this is an offensive team that the Department of Defense would use to defend the nation if it were attacked in cyberspace," he said during the testimony.

Citing “destructive” cyber attacks on the Saudi Aramco oil company last summer, during which 30,000 company computers were damaged, Alexander said experts believe the threat of attack will grow, and “there’s a lot that we need to do to prepare for this.”

There have already been reports of alleged U.S. offensive capability in the cyber domain. It is widely believed the U.S. and Israel were behind the so-called Stuxnet worm that damaged key components of Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010.

The U.S. also was accused of hacking into the Elysée Palace computers in May of last year just before François Hollande succeeded Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France. The U.S. denied the charges.

In 2011, the White House issued document titled the “International Strategy for Cyberspace,” which said, “when warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country.”

Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian, had some questions about the revelation about offensive capabilities.

“I did not understand why so many teams need to be created to give [U.S. Cyber Command - CYBERCOM] an attack capability, and why this capability did not exist before now,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Who developed and employed Stuxnet then, if CYBERCOM is still building this capability?

“What the General also did not say is that this would be, according to the lawyers, an act of war requiring presidential approval and congressional notification,” Aid said. “What form of cyber attack on one or more critical U.S. systems from abroad would cross this imaginary retaliatory threshold? This is all Brave New World territory. Nothing like this has ever happened, so there are no precedents or standard operating procedures in place to guide us.”

Christopher Burgess, principal analyst at Prevendra LLC, and co-author of Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost, Preventing Economic Espionage and Intellectual Property Theft in the 21st Century, also had questions.

"What is key, will be how they engage, be it covert or overt, and how the U.S. will signal, diplomatically, where the red lines are for countries who also have an offensive cyber capability,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Then we see if the U.S. has a backbone of steel or the equivalent of a Gummi-worm?"

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid