Cyber Warfare: Should We Be On The Offensive?

The world needs a treaty to prevent cyber attacks becoming an all-out war, the head of the main UN communications and technology agency warned Saturday.

“A cyber war would be worse than a tsunami — a catastrophe,” the UN official said, highlighting examples such as attacks on Estonia last year Continue reading

White House Announces New US CyberSecurity Coordinator

After what few probably realize was a tremendous amount of political posturing President Obama has finally appointed Howard Schmidt as US Cybersecurity Coordinator. Schmidt who also served as a cybersecurity adviser under President Bush will be responsible for establishing, defining and coordinating cybersecurity across public and private critical infrastructure. I have worked with Howard and know him to be a highly competent individual that will have a positive impact on this administrations Cybersecurity efforts. Congratulations Howard and best of luck in your new role! Continue reading

Bill To Provide Presidental Authority to Turn Off the Internets

The Constitution

CNET’s Declan McCullagh recently posted an article on aspects of the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 “Bill would give President emergency control of the Internet

The new version would allow the president to “declare a cybersecurity emergency” relating to “non-governmental” computer networks and do what’s necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for “cybersecurity professionals,” and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.

There has been a lot of discussion and debate about how the new administration would address cybersecurity. With a string of disillusioned Cyber Czars, advisers, and a dizzying array of federal agencies vying to lead the efforts President Obama has certainly been in the unenviable position of setting the future direction to secure critical infrastructure and to ensure our prosperity.

This is a massive logistical problem, growing even more so as technology advances and becomes adopted as part of our digital fabric. Unfortunately there will be mistakes, errors in judgment, and poorly written policies that may very well lead to significant self-inflicted damage. The concept that the President, under an emergency situation, can take control of aspects of the Internet is very troubling.

Conceptually, and given the events of 9/11, it would seem logical that under a massive sustained attack on our critical infrastructure and our digital assets – both public and private – that it would be warranted for the administration to do whatever would be required to regain control and eliminate the threat. The reality is that this is extremely difficult to do and more importantly enables a malicious actor to create a situation that forces the administration to respond and in doing so create more havoc than could have been created by the malicious actors on their own.

This is a recipe for disaster and provides a very real vector for attacking the entire United States in a way that would not normally be afforded to those who wish to do us harm. Continue reading

The US Cyber Challenge Wants You


As part of the administrations continuing efforts to actually do something tangible to improve the security posture of US critical infrastructure and to better deal with a severe lack of technical talent the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) announced the US Cyber Challenge (here) to identify and develop 10,000 cyber security specialists.

One of the fundamental deficiencies of the current US critical infrastructure protection programs (there are many of them), is the astonishing lack of qualified technical security specialists. This program aims to develop the next generation of technically advanced cyber warriors and security specialists.

The United States Cyber Challenge

The US Cyber Challenge is a national talent search and skills development program. Its purpose is to find 10,000 young Americans with the interest and skills to fill the ranks of cyber security practitioners, researchers and warriors. Some will, we hope, become the top guns in cyber security. The program will nurture and develop their skills, and enable them to get access to advanced education and exercises, and where appropriate, enable them to be recognized by employers where their skills can be of the greatest value to their nation.

Improving our private and public sector security posture will be an ongoing process as we adopt new technology innovations and as the dynamic global environment shifts between hostile and friendly actors. Recruiting the next generation of technically advanced security specialists and developing the skills today to deal with tomorrows threats is key to ensuring we have a population of talent to enable continued growth and prosperity of the United States and its citizens. Like so many times in our history, the hopes of an aging nation rest on the shoulders of America’s youth.

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