Former NSA and CIA Director advocates cyber threat transparency

The former NSA and CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden could possibly be the last person you would expect to be advocating government transparency.

However, his commentary in the last issue of the US Air Force’s Strategic Studies Quarterly confirms that he believes one of the biggest problem when it comes to cyber threats is that the secrecy that the government shrouds the events with is counterproductive.

“It is far easier to learn about physical threats from US government agencies than to learn about cyber threats,” he says. “In the popular culture, the availability of 10,000 applications for my smart phone is viewed as an unalloyed good. It is not—since each represents a potential vulnerability. But if we want to shift the popular culture, we need a broader flow of information to corporations and individuals to educate them on the threat. To do that we need to recalibrate what is truly secret. Our most pressing need is clear policy, formed by shared consensus, shaped by informed discussion, and created by a common body of knowledge.”

He believes that a more transparent approach would allow a better education of the private sector and the public in general, and would jump-start a much needed debate about the issue, which would allow all sides to finally understand the complexity and maybe come to some conclusions on various “cyber” matters.

“US Cyber Command has been in existence for more than a year, and no one familiar with the command or its mission believes our current policy, law, or doctrine is adequate to our needs or our capabilities,” he points out. “Most disappointingly—the doctrinal, policy, and legal dilemmas we currently face remain unresolved even though they have been around for the better part of a decade. Now is the time to think about and force some issues that have been delayed too long.”

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