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U.S. Government is Building Cyber Offensive Teams

The U.S. Department of Defense said earlier this week that the U.S. Cyber Command (Cybercom) is developing offensive teams that will protect the nation’s interests in cyberspace. It's also developing tactics, techniques and procedures, and doctrine describing how the teams will work in that environment.

"These defend-the-nation teams are not defensive teams, these are offensive teams that the Defense Department would use to defend the nation if it were attacked in cyberspace," said Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who also serves as National Security Agency director. "Thirteen of the teams we’re creating are for that mission set alone. We’re also creating 27 teams that would support combatant commands and their planning process for offensive cyber capabilities."

Cybercom is looking to establish one-third of the teams by September 2013, the next third by September 2014, and the final third by September 2015. The effort to get these teams up and running is currently on track, he said, thanks to efforts by the service chiefs who are pushing the initiative.

The call to action arrives as the American virtual frontier is being marred by exploits and attacks. Corporate secrets are spilling into foreign hands, and overseas hackers are breaking into networks, thrashing servers and data bases for their political or religious cause. The environment on the strategic cyberspace landscape is becoming more contentious, he said.

"Cyber effects are growing. We’ve seen attacks on Wall Street -- 140 over the last six months -- grow significantly. In August, we saw a destructive attack on Saudi Aramco, where data on over 30,000 systems was destroyed," he added.

In addition to the nation's new cyber army, the government is also working on a series of teams that will defend Department of Defense networks in cyberspace. Cybercom is also working on "situational awareness," a.k.a. information sharing, between Washington, security firms, and the public sector so that the government can see an attack unfold in cyberspace in real time.

"Today, seeing that attack is almost impossible for the Defense Department," he said. "We would probably not see an attack on Wall Street -- it’s going to be seen by the private sector first, and that [highlights] a key need for information sharing."

To read the general's full report, head here. Sounds like the government is opening up a can of virtual Whoopass.


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