Cyber Geography 101

Today, the cyber landscape is set up in a flat manner, like the North German Plain, giving the advantage to those nefarious actors seeking to intrude others’ cyber networks, much like the Germans used to roll over Poland, said retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former CIA boss and National Security Agency director, Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. One could—and probably should—re-engineer that landscape by incorporating “hills and rivers” to make it more difficult for the bad apples to maneuver freely, thereby balancing the Internet’s transparency with greater security, he said. At the same time, cyber land is also “a wilderness” with no trails since coordinated policy for it is still lacking at the US government level. That tends to mean that decisions bubble up in the bureaucracy since there is no precedent for how to handle certain situations. For example, it is still “a jump ball” within the government whether US-government sanctioned activities on the Internet would be considered “covert action” due to the inherent anonymity of the Internet, he said.