Defining Authorities in Cyberspace

If the intelligence community got word that a foreign adversary was clearly targeting US infrastructure with its bomber aircraft, the Air Force would clearly have the authority to take out the aircraft before they inflicted any damage. But such authorities are still murky in the cyber realm, said Gen. Keith Alexander, head of US Cyber Command, Wednesday. “We don’t have the authority to stop” an impending cyber attack, Alexander told the House Armed Services Committee’s emerging threats and capabilities panel. He added, “The Department of Homeland Security has some of the authority.” The White House is drafting legislative proposals to address this issue, he said. As of now, CYBERCOM has the authority to provide malicious software signatures to help DHS and the intelligence community protect US networks. CYBERCOM also works with other government agencies to detect threats before they occur, Alexander said.