US Government to redefine CyberSpace in effort to deny CyberWar?

In as early as 2004 the various Armed Services of the United States publicly called Cyberspace a new warfighting domain. Now, several years and a whole lot of international incidents later, Cyber Security and Cyber Warfare have become common topics of conversation inside governments, corporations, national laboratories and think-tanks. Over 120 countries worldwide have ramped up efforts to defend themselves against cyber attacks, and are no doubt making sure that they have cyber capabilities of their own. That cyber attacks are a reality have been made abundantly clear to the US government by outside events as well as multiple successful penetrations of the Pentagon network. Subsequent wargames and reports reveal that the US is very vulnerable to such attacks, and in this they are certainly not the only one. America’s military forces are some of the most active entities in the Cyber Warfare scene, with their Department of Defense taking a leading role in creating one of the worlds’s first Cyber Commands (USCYBERCOM). Several of the industrial complexes that serve the US Government and its armed forces have also started to smell the proverbial coffee, already making Millions (if not Billions) by actively servicing the many requests they receive by their largest customer. While Europe is slowly moving to a similar state, America is the place where new developments are happening.

Imagine my surprise when rumors reached me of a new movement by the current US government administration to redefine Cyberspace as an Innovative Domain rather than a Warfighting Domain, exactly the opposite of current DoD Doctrine. While I can not reveal them, credible sources have informed me that the Obama administration is going to some lengths to move away from ‘Cyber Warfare Terminology’. The reasoning is that if Cyberspace is considered an Innovative Domain (IE. Technological) rather than a Warfighting Domain (IE. Military), the embarrassment of being vulnerable to attack is somehow magically diminished. It would stop being a mostly military matter -no doubt pleasing the various IT Security guru’s critical of Cyber Warfare- , Armed Forces investments in cyber warfare might suddenly find a ‘better use’ and this would eventually require far less of the National budget than is currently allotted. Of course this is just a pipe dream, but there it is.

Seeing as how these are currently just rumors that I can not substantiate with any real proof, there is little more that I can say about it. However, if these rumors turn out to be true then the US military industrial complex may take quite a hit through diminishing requests by its government and interesting times will surely be here. Are there really people daft enough in the US Government to completely ignore the evidence of Cyber Warfare that is already out there? The attacks on the Pentagon networks, the plundering of its email servers, the 2007 attacks on Estonia, the 2008 attacks on Georgia and the 2009 attacks on both the US as well as South Korea should sway any sane person from the notion that denial will solve the problem. I can’t safely say that current spending will do anything to lessen the threat, but spending less certainly won’t help the situation. Is the Obama Administration really up for an Ostrich Award?

Dutch Minister of Defence: Cyber to get its share

Dutch Defence minister Hans HillenConfirming earlier official documents published by the Dutch government, the new Dutch Defence minister Hans Hillen re-stated that the Dutch armed forces will indeed be spending part of its budget for 2011 on Cyber Warfare related activities. This confirmation can be found in the online transcript of the debate.

The relevant paragraph containing said confirmation reads:

<…>”And then there are the technological advances. Right now we’re faced with Wikileaks. You can judge this all you like, and they do so gratuitously in America, but at the same time this acts as a severe warning about leaks in information flows. If WikiLeaks can do it, others can too. Apparently our connections are vulnerable too. This should be a warning for us to be more careful. Cyber Warfare will be a far greater point on our agenda tomorrow or the day after that. ”

<….> “I have one more topic that goes to Personnel, but also to decisionmaking. Its about the furnishing of Defence and involves Cyber. I don’t want to spend too much time on this, because I still have some decisions to make, but Cyber will receive some serious attention. It will be discussed with positive light in the upcoming policy letter.”

I don’t suppose that this would be the time to point out to Minister Hillen the finer points about Wikileaks, in that Wikileaks itself was not the perpetrator of the leak but the receiving party. Instead it was 22-year-old US Army intelligence analyst PFC Bradley Manning who leaked classified information (to which he had access without breaking in) to Wikileaks. Since this is a matter of internal security and vetting of your personnel, something I hope the Dutch Defence department already does as a matter of standard, I fail to see how this relates to Cyber spending but I digress. Any progress is progress and The Netherlands can surely need it.