Cyber Semantics

The US military’s computer networks are probed thousands of time a day, but so far these intrusions have been “espionage” to siphon off information and have not been denial-of-service attempts, which would be considered outright “attacks,” US Strategic Command head Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, told defense reporters May 7 in Washington, D.C. Despite the staggering amounts of hacker activity, Chilton said the US military is getting continually better at defending its networks, which means that a hacker now requires more sophistication to succeed. And this, in turn, means that a hacker would need more resources to carry out the job, making state sponsorship or the involvement of more established and financed entities more likely. Stealing data, even when it is just on the military’s unclassified networks is still disconcerting because of what the intruder may glean by piecing the information together, Chilton said. But more troubling is the prospect that someone would succeed with a denial-of-service effort because these types of intrusions could render networks slower or entirely non functional, thereby affecting military operations, he said. In the next five years the US military needs to add about an additional 2,000 to 4,000 personnel to work in the cyberspace domain, Chilton said. The most acute need is for a dedicated force to prepare cyber attacks and carry them out when directed, he said. (Also read Cyber Synergy on STRATCOM’s plan for a cyber command.)