Will military, NSA take over all cybersecurity operations?

Should responsibility for defending against cyberattacks be moved from the Dept. of Homeland Security to the military?

Should responsibility for defending against cyberattacks be moved from the Dept. of Homeland Security to the military? Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton suggested as much at a Congressional hearing where he warned of U.S. vulnerability to cyberwarfar "across the spectrum."

Such attacks "potentially threaten not only our military networks, but also our critical national networks," Chilton told a House Armed Services subcommittee, the Washington Post reported. As head of Strategic Command, the general isn't responsible for defending civilian networks, just government computers.

[Stratcom's responsibility is] "to operate and defend the military networks only and be prepared to attack in cyberspace when directed. I think the broader question is, who should best do this for the other parts of America, where we worry about defending power grids, our financial institutions, our telecommunications, our transportation networks, the networks that support them."

Well, that's where the 60-day interagency overview of cybersecurity comes in. At the end of that, Chilton said, responsibility for protecting private sector networks may well fit under Stratcom's duties.

So what impact in having the military at the center of cybersecurity? Importantly, it brings offensive ops into the defense game. And where the military is involved, can NSA be far behind? No. Operational control over both [offensive and defensive ops], Chilton said, has been delegated to Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency. ... NSA, according to Chilton, already has a role in information security, and the agency's support "has been instrumental in our efforts to operate and particularly to defend our networks," he said.

Combining oversight of cyber defense and offense made sense, Chilton said, "because they're so interconnected. . . . As you consider offensive operations, you want to make sure your defense are up."

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