The Changing Cyber Threat

US Cyber Command is beginning to see adversaries attempt to attack and take control of networks, rather than just attempt cyber espionage, Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin McLaughlin, CYBERCOM’s deputy commander, said Tuesday at ASC16. He said such attacks force the targets to question whether they have control over their own networks and whether the data within those networks have good integrity. “It’s really a different military problem,” he said. McLaughlin noted that while CYBERCOM monitors the nature of cyber threats, it is not involved in responding to most cyber attacks in the media because the command’s cyber mission force is only tasked with responding to “attacks of significant consequence” on nonmilitary targets within the US. While the threshold is still being defined, McLaughlin said such a level of attack might occur in the “near future” given the nature and pace of the threat. He said CYBERCOM is training to respond to such an attack, “but it’s not routine that DOD forces are out running around at ports and banks and public utilities defending their terrain.”