U.S. Military Readies Cyber 'Rules of Engagement'DOD soon will release rules instructing the military how and when to fight fire with fire in the event of a cyber attack.
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Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
The Department of Defense could issue within one to two months cyber rules of engagement that will outline how the military should respond to cyber attacks, and when the military can engage in "active defenses" to proactively defend against adversaries online, military officials said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.
The policy, which the Joint Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Office of Policy have been collaborating on for "a long time," according to assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs Madelyn Creedon, builds on the DOD's Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace, released last year.
"We are working closely with the joint staff on the implementation of a transitional command and control model for cyberspace operations," Creedon said at the hearing. "This interim framework will standardize existing organizational structures and command relationships across the department and provide a blueprint for the application of the full spectrum of cyberspace capabilities."
[ Hackers are set to outstrip terrorists as the biggest threat to U.S. security, say officials. Cyber Attacks Becoming Top Terror Threat, FBI Says. ]
The panel of DOD officials, which included Creedon, U.S. Cyber Command commander and National Security Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander, and DOD CIO Teri Takai, also provided updates on several other cyber-related DOD initiatives.
For example, officials said that the DOD has expanded the Defense Industrial Base pilot program, in which the military is sharing classified information about cyber threats with Internet service providers and defense contractors, to about 200 vendors. Takai said that information-sharing initiatives like this one have led to both the DOD and contractors having information that they otherwise wouldn't possess.
At the hearing, representatives pushed the officials to discuss the evolving relationship between the roles of the military and the Department of Homeland Security in cyberspace. The respective roles of DOD and DHS have been subject to debate as the push toward major cyber legislation continues, with Democrats pushing for a larger role for DHS and Republicans seeking a larger role for the military.
Gen. Alexander said that he was comfortable with DHS' role to protect government networks and help protect critical infrastructure and DOD's role in responding to major attacks. "We strongly believe in a whole of government approach," Creedon said in remarks typical of the panel's response to legislators. "We fully support the DHS' role."
A protracted legislative battle is not the only thing threatening progress on cyber. Budget cuts, especially due to sequestration triggered by the failure of last year's super committee, the Joint Select Committee on Debt Reduction, to come up with a bipartisan solution to the national debt, could also have a negative impact, officials said.
According to Takai, the DOD is seeking $3.4 billion in cyber security spending in its fiscal 2013 budget request. However, sequestration, she said, could lead to cuts and pauses in some IT spending. For example, she said that the pace of deployment of continuous monitoring capabilities could slow down.
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