“The old fashioned, narrow-minded culture of the United States armed forces and the outdated acquisition systems come in the way of the efforts to improve the cyber defense mechanisms, designed to face ever more complex attacks”, says admiral Michael Rogers, Chief of the NSA – the National Security Agency, and director of the united states army Cyber command. “Our biggest challenge is not technologic by nature, but rather an organizational one”, Rogers added. He was quoted during a military convention held last weekend in Arlington, VA.
The US Ministry of Defense established the army’s Cyber Command four years ago in order to prepare for war against hackers and online espionage.
The command’s annual budget is 500 Million USD. “The Ministry of Defense’s ability to protect its communication and computer networks is limited due to the fact the military does not operate in an integrated manner, and holds many outdated approaches to IT platforms” Rogers described.
The Pentagon operates as many as 15,000 different communication and computing networks, but the building and implementation of defense mechanisms is not always a centralized, cross-organizational process. In some cases, military division commanders acquire and implement defense systems independently. According to Rogers “The worrying fact is that commanders tend to treat cyber security as a minor issue. Military commanders have to ‘own’ this field. Cyber networks and their protection have to be a main concern for officers, rather than be shoved aside and taken care of by the units’ tech support teams alone.”
“The key to winning this war lies in our ability to incorporate cyber defense into a broader operational approach”, James claims. He explains that “we must change the common concept that cyber security is something special, so different and so unique that it has to be treated outside the operational framework”. Rogers expanded on the matter, saying that “commanders work under the flawed impression that they can simply pass this responsibility to their network managers and IT specialists, while they should really own and manage this task themselves and incorporate it into their activity. Senior officers need know their unit’s network abilities and potential weak points in detail, just as well as they know the unit’s gas and ammunition supply needs.
Rogers sums the issue saying that “The challenge is far more cultural than it is technological. We must create a force that understands this vision, and is capable of realizing this vision. We at the Ministry of Defense are not at the front when it comes to networks and IT. We have to establish a fully operational, well trained and prepared cyber force.”