Military seeks private sector help to build cyber warfare capability

The military is seeking help from the private sector to build offensive and defensive capabilities for cyber warfare.

The military is seeking help from the private sector to build offensive and defensive capabilities for cyber warfare.

The initiative signifies how nascent strategic cyber warfare centres on both sides of the Atlantic have come to the conclusion that they would be powerless to protect the national infrastructure in the event of a concerted cyber attack from an enemy state.

Brigadier General Charles Shugg, deputy commander of the 24th Air Force, a cyber war command centre established under the US Space Command in July 2009, told a military internet conference yesterday, "We have come to realise that the private sector is leading the way in the cyber domain. We have got to a point where we feel we should bring them into our planning and, as much as we can, into our organisations."

Traditional procurement processes were too slow for cyber war timescales, he said. "That would take years. We cannot accept that. We have got to be within days and hours of changing things over, and the only way to do that is to work with industry partners," he told military, intelligence and computer security leaders at the Cyber Warfare 2010 Conference in London.

Shugg said the 24th Air Force had started talking to industry and had been "getting an idea of where we need to be" and one of those places, he said, was "cognitive computing".

The military's desire to co-opt civilian resources in its cyber operations is based on the assumption that the internet infrastructure, which it is protects for the sake of national security, is an immeasurably complex network of almost entirely civilian technology and actors. The military describes it as the Achilles' heel of national security.

Civilian preparedness is therefore thought vital; and the pervasiveness of the internet and the impossibility to protect it with traditional perimeter defences is thought to have brought the theatre of war into everyone's data centres.

Air Commodore Graham Wright, deputy director of the UK's strategic cyber security centre, the Office of Cyber Security (OCS), told the conference that the OCS had been establishing partnerships with industry since it was established two months ago.

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