US eyes military cyber command

Washington, D.C. – The Obama administration is reportedly poised to announce the creation of a new military cyber command.

According to the Wall Street Journal, National Security Agency (NSA) Director Keith Alexander is currently the top candidate for the post. Alexander, who spoke yesterday at the RSA conference in San Francisco, recommended a “team” approach to cyber security that would grant the NSA a leading role in the protection of military and intelligence networks. Alexander also sought to allay concerns over the NSA’s increasing role in securing cyberspace, emphasizing that the agency did “not want to run cyber security for the US government.”

The new command is expected to coordinate the defense of various computer networks against malicious activity, including distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The Pentagon has already spent more than $100 million over the past six months responding to a spate of serious cyber offensives, including one which compromised the US electric grid.

It should be noted that the Department of Defense (DoD) dedicated a section of its recent 2009 Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review (QRM) Report to the “enormous challenges” presented by cyberspace.

“Our national security is inextricably linked to the cyberspace domain, where conflict is not limited by geography or time. The expanding use of cyberspace places United States’ interests at greater risk from cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Cyber actors can operate globally, within our own borders, and within the borders of our allies and adversaries. The complexity and amount of activity in this evolving domain make it difficult to detect, interdict, and attribute malicious activities,” the report warned.

The report also outlined the DOD’s plan to achieve superior cyber capabilities, which would allow for “global situational awareness, freedom of action, the ability to provide warfighting effects within cyberspace, and, when called upon, support [for] civil authorities.”