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Pentagon Cyber-Command In the Works 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the too-many-chiefs dept.
An anonymous reader sends word of a new cybersecurity project to defend US networks from attacks and strengthen the government's "offensive capabilities in cyberwarfare." Right now, the most likely candidate to lead the project is the Director of the NSA, Keith Alexander, who was quick to assert that the NSA itself wouldn't try to run the whole show (something they've been criticized for in the past). Quoting the Wall Street Journal: "Cyber defense is the Department of Homeland Security's responsibility, so the command would be charged with assisting that department's defense efforts. The relationship would be similar to the way Northern Command supports Homeland Security with rescue capabilities in natural disasters. The NSA, where much of the government's cybersecurity expertise is housed, established a similar relationship with Homeland Security through a cybersecurity initiative that the Bush administration began in its final year."
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Pentagon Cyber-Command In the Works

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  • by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @10:09AM (#27674317)
    It wants its buzzword back. Please stop using "Cyber-". Thank you.
    • by notarockstar1979 (1521239) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @10:44AM (#27674665) Journal
      I like that word. It reminds me of my first girlfriend....a cute young girl from Idaho with a husky, manly voice named Jim. YES I'M SURE IT WAS A WOMAN! STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by qbzzt (11136)

      Our government is slow and inefficient. In takes it 14-15 years to move from buzzword initiation to actual planning.

      That is not a bug, BTW. It's a design feature. The constitution was written by a bunch of rebels who fought with the previous government and won. They were not inclined to want to fight again.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by llManDrakell (897726)

      It wants its buzzword back. Please stop using "Cyber-". Thank you.

      Would you prefer iCommand?

  • Why is it that EVERYTHING that tries (and usually fails) to connect itself to the net label itself "cyber?" Seriously, can we come up with something different, like "Network Operations" or something that doesn't remind me of bad movies from the 80's?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      Seriously, can we come up with something different, like "Network Operations" or something that doesn't remind me of bad movies from the 80's?

      So, you'd rather have the jargon-of-the-month than to settle upon a standard term?

      Seriously? You'll get over it, bub. In the meantime, I'm very thankful that they're not making up new buzzwords every 6 months.

      • by maxume (22995)

        But they do seem to make up new buzzwords every 6 months.

        I'm not sure exactly who 'they' are, but buzzwords must be coming from somewhere.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Red Flayer (890720)

          I'm not sure exactly who 'they' are, but buzzwords must be coming from somewhere.

          Well, in this case, we're talking about the government. But I think most buzzwords come from marketing people. These are people who are *paid* to come up with buzzwords... and if someone else comes up with a good one, they all jump to use it.

          Heaven forbid a company is seen to be behind-the-curve because they use outdated verbiage... surely that means they use outdated tech, right?

          Anyway, thinking by typing here... I bet the

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Network Operations" is actually used a lot at the actual operational level. It's just the Administrative policy making level (run mostly by people a decade or more 'over the hill')that gets wrapped up in buzzwords.
      Also: 'Cybercommand' will probably get more attention than 'Network Operations and Security Command' ... NetOpsSecCom maybe?

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by MBaldelli (808494)

        "Network Operations" is actually used a lot at the actual operational level. It's just the Administrative policy making level (run mostly by people a decade or more 'over the hill')that gets wrapped up in buzzwords. Also: 'Cybercommand' will probably get more attention than 'Network Operations and Security Command' ... NetOpsSecCom maybe?

        I'm rather surprised they haven't called it GloryHole. I mean between the bullshit with Senators in bathrooms, and this brouhaha of TeaBagging Obama, why not just simply call it what it is for Congressman to readily understand and be done with it.

        Although personally I think the Pentagon's CloudCommand seems to be a fairly good choice as well, given when their not wearing ass-hats, they're certainly having them up in the clouds.

    • cyber- a combining form meaning "computer," "computer network," or "virtual reality," used in the formation of compound words (cybertalk; cyberart; cyberspace) and by extension meaning "very modern" (cyberfashion). Sounds like a perfectly good use of Cyber though it should probably be one word not two... you're guess at whether the government is trying to create a computer command, computer network command or virtual reality command. Personally, all the work I've done with the government would fall into th
  • "The Obama administration plans to create a new military command to coordinate the defense of Pentagon computer networks and improve U.S. offensive capabilities in cyberwarfare, according to current and former officials familiar with the plans." Right, because the military does such a good job of keeping up with the latest in security, see yesterday's sat com article: http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/21/151225 [slashdot.org]
  • by mc1138 (718275) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @10:20AM (#27674435) Homepage
    I'm just glad they're finally taking this sort of shit seriously. With plans for fighter jets being stolen by hackers making front page news, reports that the pentagon spends boat loads of money at reactive threat defense, our [insert computer buzz word]-security at a national level is severely lacking. Even movies like transformers seem to think that the best hackers are still fat dudes living with their grandparents and no one at any national department is capable of anything.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Movies don't think.

    • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:11AM (#27674965)

      I'm just glad they're finally taking this sort of shit seriously.

      Very humorously ironic post.

      The whole cyber command thing bugs me because its so expensive but does so little. I'm sure they'll have a huge command of generals and various other officers giving each other endless powerpoints about "synergisticly proactively defending the cyber battlefield". Trust me, no patches are going to get applied. Mostly a bunch of resume stuffing for the post-military career. Probably a lot of puzzling over how it could be that the more managers they put on the job, the slower the work gets done. Probably a lot of really pompous posing going on too, I'm leet, so leet, its classified and I can't tell you how leet I am, but trust me I'm just the most leet ever. And a lot of "I'm working so hard that you wouldn't believe it, but its all classified so I can't actually tell you what I'm working on" as he returns to his minesweeper game. I guarantee they'll have a vaguely NORAD like NOC 24x7 with dim lights and big screen TVs, with very expensive software to monitor ... their departmental intranet, and maybe they'll have isc.sans.org on refresh every 30 seconds to see whats going on, maybe, but that would probably be too clueful.

      All they need to do, is get more admins, more equipment, and tell them to keep up with the times, read slashdot, whatever. The last thing they need is infinitely more commanders and procedures to gum up the works even worse.

      • by El Torico (732160) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:18PM (#27675673)

        They're going to have to classify your post. It's way too accurate.

      • by rzei (622725)

        I think a quote from my favourite mini-tv-series "Generation Kill" works well in almost any discussion about "why army X does thing Y like Z when it would be the best to do it like A":

        Not retarded enough.

        That'll sum it up.

      • by shinigam (887393)

        I'm just glad they're finally taking this sort of shit seriously.

        Very humorously ironic post.

        The whole cyber command thing bugs me because its so expensive but does so little. I'm sure they'll have a huge command of generals and various other officers giving each other endless powerpoints about "synergisticly proactively defending the cyber battlefield". Trust me, no patches are going to get applied. Mostly a bunch of resume stuffing for the post-military career. Probably a lot of puzzling over how it could be that the more managers they put on the job, the slower the work gets done. Probably a lot of really pompous posing going on too, I'm leet, so leet, its classified and I can't tell you how leet I am, but trust me I'm just the most leet ever. And a lot of "I'm working so hard that you wouldn't believe it, but its all classified so I can't actually tell you what I'm working on" as he returns to his minesweeper game. I guarantee they'll have a vaguely NORAD like NOC 24x7 with dim lights and big screen TVs, with very expensive software to monitor ... their departmental intranet, and maybe they'll have isc.sans.org on refresh every 30 seconds to see whats going on, maybe, but that would probably be too clueful.

        All they need to do, is get more admins, more equipment, and tell them to keep up with the times, read slashdot, whatever. The last thing they need is infinitely more commanders and procedures to gum up the works even worse.

        I thought we are already doing that now? Fact is, it's the enlisted who look at the officers like the morons they really are when it comes to executing and implementing any IT system. More often than not, the mantra is, "You want me to do what sir? Okay, if you say so..." Of course our enlistment contracts end and we get out into the real world.

  • by robkill (259732) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @10:21AM (#27674439)

    When a group that exploits a communication network system for information is also in charge of its security, what happens when a weakness is found? Do you:

    A) Keep the weakness secret so you can exploit it.
    B) Publish the fix so your networks are fixed, but also allowing those you may be monitoring to fix as well, and cut off an information source.

    Bruce Schneier has a great commentary on this at his blog. [schneier.com]

    • You might as well say the Army has a conflict of interest since if they have a new weapon they could take over the country.

      It's both true and not true. in some countries the army does indeed take over when it wants to. In others it tries to protect it's citizens. Why should the NSA not be expected to do this as well? What is needed is proper oversight.

      Now as for How to approach this. I'm utterly puzzled why trusted platform computing (e.g. Palladium) has not take off for government and embedded computin

      • What is needed is proper oversight

        That's the whole problem. The NSA is already in charge of the entire nation's cyber-security. They just don't want anyone to know about it.

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by Kiaser Zohsay (20134)

        What is needed is proper oversight.

        That's the whole problem. The NSA has been in charge of cyber-security for the entire nation for years. They junt don't want anyone to know about it.

      • The analogy is flawed.

        Taking over the country with a weapon requires a violent coup, drawing the opposition of the government and other branches of the military.

        Spying on the country without authorization is, by definition, covert, and can be denied or declared a matter of national security.

    • The NSA already has full privs on DoD systems.

      • Re:No it doesn't (Score:4, Interesting)

        by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @01:07PM (#27676327) Homepage

        Oh sure, just make stuff up. If it sounds paranoid enough, maybe some will mod you up. I've been an admin on two different DOD networks now, and in both cases I knew exactly who had full privileged access. In neither case was I even expected to provide our privileged passwords to higher headquarters, much less the NSA. could the NSA have GOTTEN the passwords to our systems? I'm sure, if they went through the proper channels and proved "need to know", but that's hardly the same thing thing as having "full privs on all DOD systems".

    • Ontop of that, this is just another example of US aggression. First we militerized space, now we are militerizing the internet. Disgusting, this is an example of Bush era policy that simply must be ended if we are going to run a country which reflects our supposed "ideals."

      Especially, if we are going to complain when Chinese hackers invade our power grid. We've got no right to complain if we ourselves are developing the same capability. More Bush-era hyporcrasy.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's form a committee and draw up a plan. Budget meeting tomorrow!

  • Other bids (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mendoksou (1480261) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @10:25AM (#27674479)
    The other top contenders for the project is Cyberdyne Systems and a man calling himself "The Architect."
  • Homeland Security??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by kaaona (252061) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @10:27AM (#27674493)

    The only thing DHS is good at defending is its budget. Their own systems and networks are notoriously mismanaged and vulnerable. You have to go to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to find anything more inept.

    The technical talent at NSA is the best in the world. It's their administrative and political leadership that could stand some fumigation.

  • by Absolut187 (816431) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @10:32AM (#27674551) Homepage

    In light of the recent hacks of pentagon systems - including China downloading the plans for joint-strike-fighter - shouldn't we focus on strengthening our DEFENSIVE capability first?

    I don't see us getting too much useful info from hacking into China/Russia.

    Let's focus on keeping them out of our stuff.

    Here's a few tips for the DHS/NSA to get them started:

    1) Change the password on your router. Everyone knows the default password is "admin." Don't use the word "password" as your password.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/apr/03/politics.usa [guardian.co.uk]

    2) Don't run bearshare on computers that contain the plans for the joint strike fighter.
    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x3398730 [democratic...ground.com]

    3) If you go on a trip to China, make sure your laptop doesn't have sensitive information on it. If it does, don't leave it in your hotel room.
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/30/brownback.china/?iref=hpmostpop [cnn.com]
    http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2008/05/us-probes-whether-laptop-copied-on-china-trip/ [chinadigitaltimes.net]

    4) Download your pr0n at home - don't use work computers because pr0n sites have viruses.
    http://seclists.org/politech/2002/Aug/0064.html [seclists.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't see us getting too much useful info from hacking into China/Russia.

      We can go in there and get our information back!

  • Is that what they will call it?
  • Yes, Please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BigBlueOx (1201587) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @10:50AM (#27674749)
    Yes, please take another huge gob of my money to fund yet another huge government bureaucracy in order to fund the closing of the barn door now that the horse has run out.
    • by PriceIke (751512)

      I like your thinking! In fact, let's develop a brand new bureaucracy that duplicates the efforts of one we already have.

      http://www.afcyber.af.mil/

  • Sounds like "Netforce" to me... Reality echo's fiction quite often it seems.
  • The pentagon's current security system is the Reactive Embedded Telematic Advanced Relational Data Security system - or R.E.T.A.R.D.S. for short.

    http://arstechnica.com/security/news/2009/04/chinese-hackers-nick-joint-strike-fighter-plans.ars [arstechnica.com]

  • I know this will be a bit paranoid but I'd feel much happier if they took away all those Warrantless Wiretapping and many of the other freedoms stolen recently by the Federal Government BEFORE they create a Pentagon Cyber-Command. If the Federal Government wants to make a Cyber-Command for the Pentagon, that's fine, but I want oversight that's being held accountable for their actions dammit!

    If the Federal Government can issue itself a secret warrant to search my house, you think they're going to give a
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrgnDancer (137700)

      Personally I'd rather see the Pentagon running this than one of the three letter agencies. I don't exactly TRUST the Pentagon (giving one's trust to anything with that many moving parts isn't smart), but I've been around the military long enough in various capacities to feel that IN GENERAL, most military people are legitimately focused on external threats. Not to say that there aren't bad apples everywhere, and certainly the military is as capable of colossal screw-ups as anyone, but at least there is no

  • The saving grace in all this is you know the system will have billions in cost overruns and in the end not work.
    • The saving grace in all this is you know the system will have billions in cost overruns and in the end not work.

      Hey. Wait a minute.

      You just described my project.

  • I wonder how many people tend to notice the coincidental timing of things like this. What was it, yesterday or the day before that there was a front-page post in every major newspaper about the JSF plans getting siphoned? Then, just coincidentally, a few days later plans to beef up 'cyber' operations at a federal level are put forth publicly (despite the fact that making decisions for any new programs at a federal level take days, if not weeks to make).

    It seems to me that the average layman probably hear
  • There is bureaucratic fight between the NSA and the White House (DHS is a cabinet position) over who gets unfettered access to ALL government networks in the guise of security.

    The stories of power grid and SCADA control breaches, the F-35 leaks and nameless Chinese hackers are FUD originating from the NSA to scare other government entities into surrendering full control of their networks to the NSA.

    The first place to start reading up on this fight over network control should be the National Cybersecurity Ce [wikipedia.org]

  • Just another way for the DHS to spy on those really mean and nasty Tea Party people.
    After all how dare they even think of questioning his most holy and his minions in D.C., that's just plain un-Amerikan
  • What one moment, according to the Army they already have one and are using it to recruit people.

    What oh my goodness was that a misleading advertisement by the Army? No they wouldn't lie to possible recruits would they???
    YES......

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