Pentagon wants civilian help to thwart hackers

The head of US Cyber Command says the Pentagon needs private-sector cooperation in reporting computer network attacks to stop the “greatest [unauthorized] transfer of wealth in history.”

“We need to see the attack,” Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“If we can’t see the attack, we can’t stop it. We have to have the ability to work with industry – our partners – so that when they are attacked, they can share that with us immediately.”

Alexander – who said he supports legislation requiring private companies to report attacks – compared the current situation to a missile being fired into US airspace without radar units observing its trajectory. 

“Today, we’re in the forensics mode. When an attack occurs, we’re told about it after the fact.”

However, despite his plea for more active cooperation from the civilian sectory, Alexander emphasized that private industries should be responsible for monitoring their own systems – with help from Cyber Command and the Department of Homeland Security. 

“I do not believe we want the NSA or Cyber Command or the military in our networks, watching it,” he clarified. 

“[Yet], cyber is a team sport… It is increasingly critical to our national and economic security [because] the theft of intellectual property is astounding.”

Alexander told the Committee that cyber attacks from various nations like China and non-state actors are increasing, with DoD computers recording up to 6 million threatening probes each day. 

“It is increasingly likely, as we move forward, that any attack on the U.S. will include a cyber attack… These are threats the nation cannot ignore. What we see underscores the imperative to act now,” he added.