Top general asks Congress to help military and private business face cyber security threats
WASHINGTON, 19 Feb. 2015. The nation's top-ranking military commander is calling on Congress to approve cyber security legislation that would allow information sharing between the government and private business.
While military cyber defenses are formidable, civilian infrastructure and businesses often are targeted first and "present a significant vulnerability to our nation," said Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, last month during a European tour.
"We haven't done enough; that's just not internal to the military,” Dempsey says. “We haven’t done enough as a nation."
The U.S. military depends on commercial networks, so the strongest military cyber defense still could be threatened by a weak link elsewhere, Dempsey says.
"We have authorities and capabilities that allow us to do a pretty good job of defending ourselves, but the vulnerability of the rest of America is a vulnerability of ours, and that's what we have to reconcile," Dempsey says.
More than 20 countries now have military units dedicated to employing cyber security in war, Dempsey points out, adding that he is worried adversaries will seek to exploit vulnerabilities in civilian critical infrastructure.
Cyber attacks are becoming a normal part of worldwide conflict, Dempsey says. "From the day I became chairman, I realized that on my term, cyber would become both a greater threat to our national interests, but also a more important component of military capability."
With this in mind, Dempsey says some adversaries can match U.S. cyber security and cyber warfare capabilities. There are "actors out there who can compete with us on literally a level playing field," Dempsey says.
Adversaries of the U.S. constantly seek to infiltrate networks and degrade capabilities, disrupt operations, or steal information. "In cyber, we have competitors, and we have competitors who maybe aren’t as constrained by legal systems and freedoms as we are," Dempsey says. "It's going to be challenging to navigate this race."