Defense Positions a Military Cyber Squad on DHS Turf

February 1, 2013

Pentagon plans to deploy a military cyber squad to guard U.S. networks sustaining hospitals and other vital commercial sectors drew hopeful skepticism from technology experts -- and silence from counterparts at the Homeland Security Department.

A recently-disclosed blueprint shows the Defense Department would significantly expand Cyber Command, which has been operational since 2010, and organize it into three sections: combat mission forces would support military commanders in offensive operations against adversaries’ computers; protection forces would defend military networks; and national mission forces would protect domestic critical infrastructure such as energy and transportation networks, the disruption of which could devastate civil society. The command overhaul was first reported by The Washington Post.

Cyberwar researchers, legal experts and industry officials said they believe the Defense Department is the best-resourced federal entity -- in terms of both funding and expertise -- to attempt thwarting major cyberattacks. But they are doubtful any federal department has the tools to reliably identify the source of an incident without misinterpreting the motive of the attacker or possibly targeting an innocent country.

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