Wednesday, March 18, 2009

US: Pentagon Official Warns of Risk of Cyber Attacks

(from The head of the Pentagon's Strategic Command warned Congress today that the United States is vulnerable to cyberattacks "across the spectrum" and that more needs to be done to defend against the potential of online strikes, which could "potentially threaten not only our military networks, but also our critical national networks."

But Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton made clear to a House Armed Services subcommittee that he has not been asked to defend most government Web sites nor the commercial and public infrastructure networks whose destruction could cripple the nation.

Chilton's command, instead, has the responsibility "to operate and defend the military networks only and be prepared to attack in cyberspace when directed," he said, adding, "I think the broader question is, who should best do this for the other parts of America, where we worry about defending power grids, our financial institutions, our telecommunications, our transportation networks, the networks that support them."

The responsibility of protecting civilian networks currently rests with the Department of Homeland Security, but Chilton's testimony comes at a time when a presidential-chartered 60-day study of cybersecurity is underway. A report from that study is expected next month.

Asked whether Homeland Security's cyber role fits within his command structure, Chilton responded, "It does not fit at all today." But that may change after the 60-day review is completed, he added. [...]

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