The Defense Department is beefing up cybersecurity capabilities, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee.
Gates said cybersecurity must be a priority for the DoD, and his budget request reflects that.
The request increases funding for a range of information assurance capabilities to improve the security of information as it is collected, stored, processed, and transmitted across IT systems, Gates said.
Gates’ request would also increase “the number of cyber experts this department can train from 80 students per year to 250 per year by fiscal year 2011.” He also calls for establishing a cyber test range where cyber defenses and weapons can be tested in a realistic setting.
Gates remarked, “There is no doubt that the integrity and security of our computer and information systems will be challenged on an increasing basis in the future.” He continued, “Keeping our cyber infrastructure safe is one of our most important national security challenges.”
Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the panel that “A prominent aspect of this shifting strategic environment is the disturbing trend in cyberattacks, where we face both state and non-state actors,” alluding to the easily deniable nature of cyberattacks, and the complexity of the mandate to police the internet, an existential gray area.
Responding to jurisdictional questions raised by the plethora of federal cyber authorities (NSA, AFCYBER, FBI, CIA, DC3, etc.), Mullen said, “When appropriate, DoD will lead. Likewise, when appropriate, DoD will provide support and ensure collective success.” He added that communication is essential for the success of any war waged across cyberspace.