Feeds

NSA stakes out virtual battlefield

Throwing elbows with a dozen federal agencies

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Cyberspace is fast becoming a strategic arena in which America must prepare to do battle with foreign adversaries, the US National Security Agency (NSA) Director, Air Force General Michael Hayden, observed on Monday.

"Information is now a place," Hayden argued during a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) computer security conference in Maryland. "It is a place where we must ensure American security as surely as....sea, air and space."

The virtual battlefield has "taken on a dimension within which we will conduct operations to ensure American security," he said.

However, the "legal structure into which [information operations] must fit" has yet to be moulded into a final form. But, "as the United States begins to think about what it....wants to do when it is under [cyber-] attack, it raises a really interesting question that we all have to work through in context of....democracy," he observed.

Last year the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Army General Henry "Hugh" Shelton, confirmed that US forces had mounted limited (and not terribly effective) information attacks against Serb networks during the bombing campaign against Slobo & Co., and without much public, democratic soul-searching.

Because Hayden mentioned that the NSA has yet to receive authorisation to launch a cyber attack, we're left to surmise that the Serb attacks were launched under auspices of the CIA.

Hayden said the NSA is eager to play a defensive role as well, protecting US telecomms networks against attacks from "cyber terrorists, a malicious hacker or even a non-malicious hacker," and in so doing alluded to potential conflicts where purviews might overlap. For example, the CIA and the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Centre (NIPC) are also motivated by similar defensive obligations.

Because the security establishment tends (often with good reason) to err on the side of secrecy, it's not clear whether there is a duplication of effort and a potential for counter-productive treading on feet here, or whether a clear scheme of who handles what and when has been mapped out.

We hope one has, but according to Hayden, the NSA seems to be all over the place, now cultivating partnerships with the IT industry and e-commerce to improve network security in key areas, matters also of interest to the Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce, the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Energy and the General Services Administration, to offer a short list.

This is all well and good so long as a dozen federal agencies, the White House, and those way-sexy unconventional warfare crews and 'X-Divisions' of the Department of Defence, aren't trying to do the same, and working from their own, unique scripts. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.