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Securing cyberspace against war, terror and red tape

DHS's Greg Garcia in the hot seat

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Is there anything that you were hoping you would have accomplished by now that has not happened?

I think this is an evolutionary process. My only regret is that this administration is coming to a close and that the national strategy that we need to pursue is one that's going to take years to really to mature to where it needs to be and as I'm a political I don't expect I'm going to be around much into the next administration. But I'm looking to our private sector partners and career civil servants across the government and in DHS to keep that going.

There is growing evidence that [China is] actively engaged not only in attacking infrastructure belonging to private companies but also infrastructure that belongs to the federal government. I believe that Oak Ridge [National] Labs is one possibility. Do you believe that there are attacks coming from China that are state sponsored?

There are attacks coming from everywhere as you know, and there are botnet attacks that you can see coming from a country but that doesn't mean that's where the actual attacker is seated and that botnet computer could be hijacked from a completely different country.

That said, there are some things we don't talk about in this forum about nation states or otherwise, but from a DHS perspective what we're particularly interested in is how do we protect our systems from those attacks no matter where they're coming from. Because yes, they could come from nation states, they could come from hacker groups, they could come from hacktivists with political motives, they could come from organized cyber crime groups from different countries. So my objective is to ensure we've got the protective systems in place and the technology in place and the coordinated response to attacks.

If DHS were to learn that a particular attack was state-sponsored by the Chinese government, you knew for certain, would it be considered an act of war and responded to accordingly?

That's a good question and we are now in a cyber age where our traditional thinking about acts of war are changed. This is something that we are thinking about across the federal government in terms of more strategic thinking about how to deal with that question, because it's a very complex one and it's one that engages numerous players from the State Department to the Defense Department to many others across the federal government. This is part of our national strategy how we deal with that question.

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