General Keith Alexander said he expects that cyberattacks will soon become legitimately destructive at the rate they’re outpacing the United States defenses.
There’s one big problem holding all of this back, according to Alexander.
Alexander said that unless Congress consolidates that sprawling cyber-defense infrastructure, the U.S. will not be able to fend off the increasingly likely major successful attack.
What’s the kicker from the speech is this: all that stands between the United States and the coordinated attacks on it is a sprawling, disorganized group of feds without a centralized command and each working for different goals.
And worst of all, the only entity that can solve it is Congress.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks with a congressional subcommittee on budget cuts Wednesday. (Photo: DOD/Glenn Fawcett)
In pleading with Congress Wednesday against automatic defense budget cuts, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also warned of another crippling situation like Pearl Harbor. It won’t come in the form of bombers and torpedo planes though but as hackers and worms of the cyber variety with the ability to cripple U.S. infrastructure.
“You said something that just kind of went over everybody’s head, I think, that there’s a Pearl Harbor in the making here. You’re talking about shutting down financial systems, releasing chemicals from chemical plants, releasing water from dams, shutting down power systems that can affect the very survival of the nation. What’s the likelihood in the next five years that one of these major events will occur?”
To this Panetta responded simply by saying that the “technological capability” to send our country into a mode like that of Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack is already available now. Panetta’s references to “the next Pearl Harbor” echo sentiments he shared last year with regard to cyberattacks, according to CNS news.
In June 2011, while being confirmed as Defense Secretary, Panetta said to the panel, “The next Pearl Harbor we confront could very well be a cyber attack that cripples our power systems, our grid, our security systems, our financial systems, our governmental systems.”
Continuing to probe on Wednesday, Graham asked about the risk level, which Panetta said was high, especially as the technology develops and the “will” to use it becomes more apparent.
“I’m very concerned that the potential in cyber to be able to cripple our power grid, to be able to cripple our government systems, to be able to cripple our financial system would virtually paralyze this country,” Panetta said. “And, as far as I’m concerned, that represents the potential for another Pearl Harbor as far as the kind of attack that we could be the target of using cyber.”
Those in the United States — both the government and private industry — are already the targets of thousands of attacks per day, according to Panetta. With that, he notes the importance of improving safety of systems in not only the defense sector but the private sector as well.
Earlier this year, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act (CISPA) was introduced as proposed legislation that would put in place the infrastructure for private companies to share information with the federal government on the Internet to help prevent electronic attacks from cybercriminals, foreign governments and terrorists. The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, sponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) was mentioned as well. At this point, CISPA has been passed with bipartisan support in the House and still awaits a Senate vote. The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 has not yet been voted upon.
CISPA has been met with some backlash with those against the proposed legislation saying the language is overly broad and they fear violations of the anti-trust law by the government.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey weighed in his support of CISPA during Wednesday’s hearing but also said the military is looking to develop “rules of engagement” to respond to cyberattacks and threats, according to CNS News.
Watch CNS’ footage of the dialogue here:
The Pentagon faces cuts of about $500 billion in projected spending over 10 years on top of the $492 billion that President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans already agreed to in last summer’s deficit-cutting budget.
Dempsey said the cuts would mean fewer troops, the possible cancellation of major weapons and the disruption of operations around the world.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Posted by truther
Intel sources cite backdoor option in Chinese-made chips used in American defense hardware
Chinese companies apparently have a covert capability to remotely access communications technology sold to theUnited States and other Western countries and could “disable a country’s telecommunications infrastructure before a military engagement,” according to former and current intelligence sources cited ina report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The Chinese also have the ability to exploit networks “to enable China to continue to steal technology and trade secrets,” according to the open source intelligence company Lignet, which is comprised of former U.S. intelligence analysts.
The issue centers on the Chinese firm HuaweiTechnologies Co. Ltd., which U.S. intelligence sources say has direct links to the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA. These sources assert that Huawei and other Chinese telecommunications firms such as ZTE Corp. have “electronic backdoors” to telecommunications technology sold to the U.S. and other countries.
Revelation of China’s electronic backdoor capability into U.S. and Western telecommunications networks comes on the heels of recent WND/G2Bulletin revelations that China has been manufacturing counterfeit components that have made their way into sensitive U.S. weapons systems.
The problem of fake Chinese electronic components, which were installed by defense contractors without prior testing and are operating in U.S. military systems, is far more widespread than originally thought.
These parts don’t just come directly from China but also from suppliers in Britain and Canada who redirect Chinese products to U.S. defense contractors.
These counterfeit components have been found in sensitive U.S. missile systems meant to thwart the potential of a Chinesemissile attack, in night vision devices and in various military aircraft.
“We do not want a $12 million defense interceptor’s reliability compromised by a $2 counterfeit part,” Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said.
Huawei, suspected of exploiting electronic telecommunications backdoors, continues to sell communications technology in the U.S. and other countries despite a supposed ban on the company that was supposed to keep it from bidding on cellular networks and government contracts, a current intelligence source said.
The electronic backdoor capability reportedly could allow the Chinese government through Huawei and ZTE to access information traveling through telecommunications networks or even sabotage electronic devices, Lignet said.
With this capability, China would be in a position to sabotage critical U.S. weapons systems and sensitive cyber sites and could include intelligence or systems used by defense contractors doing work on behalf of theU.S. government.
With cyber espionage on the rise and increasing attacks aimed at U.S. government computer systems, these sources contend that Huawei has achieved that capability on behalf of the Chinese government.
Sources say that Huawei can use its backdoor access to reach into foreign telecommunications company systems without its knowledge or permission.
The wheels of the war machine are ever turning inside the Pentagon, but the Defense Department’s latest endeavor won’t involve fighter jets and armored tanks. The DoD is putting aside billions to enhance its cyberwar capabilities.
The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, is turning towards the private sector and America’s next generation of computer wiz-kids to recruit forces for its next war. A report released Thursday by theWashington Post reveals that DARPA is looking to invest $1.54 billion during the next five years to up its online abilities, with $110 million going directly to a program dubbed Plan X, but unlike before it won’t be budgeted necessarily for thwarting acts of cyberterrorism. Instead the Pentagon is itching to ensure that America can carry out an offensive cyberwar on other nations rather than just readying the US to defend itself against a similar assault from abroad.
Experts say that, if the Pentagon’s plans come to fruition, it will put America at the forefront in terms of cyberwar capabilities. And although it might be a success in the eyes of Congress and corporations with a vested interest in protecting America’s cyber infrastructure, the powers that the Pentagon wants could be bigger than anyone can imagine.
“If they can do it, it’s a really big deal,” Herbert S. Lin, a cybersecurity expert with the National Research Council of the National Academies, tells the Post. “If they achieve it, they’re talking about being able to dominate the digital battlefield just like they do the traditional battlefield.”
That isn’t to say, though, that America would necessarily have separate wars waged at once. Sources close to the matter tell the Post that that Plan X would be implemented alongside actual military strikes, ideally giving the US the power to simultaneously use firepower on the battlefield and cyberattacks on computer systems in tandem.
The Post reports that part of Plan X calls for a “digital battlefield map” that would allow the Pentagon to peek on, ideally, every action across the Internet that could be of interest to the US government.
“In a split microsecond you could have a completely different flow of information and set of nodes,” DARPA Director Kaigham J. Gabriel tells the paper. “The challenge and the opportunity is to create a capability where you’re always getting a rapid, high-order look of what the Internet looks like — of what the cyberspace looks like at any one point in time.”
In recent months, the federal government’s attempts to tighten its noose around America’s Internet have been arguably unrelenting. The Stop Online Piracy Act and its sister legislation, the Protect IP Act, stood a serious chance of regulating file-sharing on the Web before public outcry against the proposals pushed Congressman to change their stance. Only weeks later, however, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was drafted and, if signed into law, will let the country’s elected leaders leer at the personal and otherwise private actions on every American’s computer. Now with Plan X, the US Department of Defense wants to make sure that when spying on their own citizen’s computer habits gets boring that they will be able to investigate the systems of non-citizens abroad and decimate them at the drop of a hat if a threat seems apparent.
Few will argue that, even if hyperbolized by American lawmakers, the threat of a cyberwar is indeed real. Using that excuse, however, Congress has continuously tried to implement measures that would erode online piracy for US citizens so that the federal government can monitor alleged illicit activity. In their latest endeavor, though, the Defense Department is looking to make sure that if anyone makes a move to take on another nation, it’s America.
“Other countries are preparing for a cyberwar. If we’re not pushing the envelope in cyber, somebody else will,”former National Security Agency cyberdefense official Richard M. George adds to the Post.
The latest revelations involving the DARPA’s Plan X comes only a week after RT covered the US National Security Agency’s recently established plan to recruit its own cyber-op officials through the implementing of a new academic program at US universities that will prep college students for a career in online security. So far four schools have been accepted to be considered by the NSA as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations.
“We are not asking them to teach kids how to break into systems, we’re not asking them to teach that. And a lot of them have said they wouldn’t teach that,” NSA official Steven LaFountain tells Reuters of the agency’s plans to scout for cyber operators. “We’re just asking them to teach the hardcore fundamental science that we need students to have when they come to work here.”