U.S. military's computer network beefed up

U.S. Space Command defends the military against cyber attacks

In the latest of a series of changes to the command structure of the United States' Armed Forces, President Clinton has placed the U.S. Space Command in charge of defending the military's computer networks. The change, which took place a week ago, was not announced until Thursday.

The plan calls for hardening the U.S. military's cyber network against outside attack and heightening defenses for critical computer systems.

As part of the sweeping change, the Space Command will develop methods of attacking targets in cyberspace, said a senior U.S. military officer in an Associated Press report.

The assignment places the Joint Task Force for Computer Network Defense -- which acts to connect information defense under a single umbrella organization -- under the U.S. Space Command.

In operation since December 1998, the task force will continue to work closely with the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Underscoring the government's concern with cyber attacks, Michael Vatis, director of the National Information Protection Center, outlined recent attacks against U.S. networks to the Senate Subcommittee on Technology and Terrorism.

"Perhaps the greatest potential threat to our national security is the prospect of 'information warfare' by foreign militaries against our critical infrastructures," he said in a statement.