U.S. strategy for cyberwar and cyberterrorism

The Cyber Secure Institute published a whitepaper by Gen. Eugene Habiger USAF (ret.). who formerly served as Commander in Chief of United States Strategic Command. He also served as the Department of Energy’s “Security Czar.”

General Habiger’s whitepaper draws a number of important conclusions, including these ten points:

1. Our nation’s vital public and private IT systems are so vulnerable that they invite attack.

2. America is routinely the victim of nation-state driven cyber intrusions that can be seen as low-grade cyber-border conflicts.

3. Some of these attacks have crossed a critical line: they have compromised critical systems supporting our troops engaged in combat.

4. Our failure to proactively address these threats risks a digital Pearl Harbor or 9-11.

5. Deterrence by retribution and preemption, our nation’s core national security strategies, are of limited value against cyberwar and cyberterror threats—”these rotary-phone-era strategies are not well suited for today’s digital world.”

6. A new approach based upon deterrence by denial is needed.

7. Achieving effective cyber deterrence by denial, or defense in-depth, will require nothing short of a total paradigm shift from both government and the private sector.

8. Across both the public and private sector we must deploy inherently secure technologies, tested and certified secure against sophisticated attacks.

9. The private sector must look beyond the balance sheet and focus on our national interests—and if need be the government must force this change.

10. We must educate the American people about the importance of cybersecurity and drive behavioral change.

The General also challenges the prevailing wisdom that effective cybersecurity is too costly or too difficult to achieve: “If we approached the challenge of going to the moon with the same sense of futility that we approach cybersecurity there would have been no “giant leap for mankind.'”

The “Cyberwar and Cyberterrorism: The Need for a New U.S. Strategic Approach” whitepapar is available for free download here.

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