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Hayden Talks Cyber Risks

Understanding the strategic differences between traditional warfare and the ever-developing cyber battlefield are crucial, Gen. Michael Hayden (ret.) told security professionals at the Black Hat conference this week.

“You guys made the cyber world look like the north German plain, and then you bitch and moan because you get invaded,“ Hayden said during a keynote speech. “We all get treated like Poland on the web, invaded from the west on even-numbered centuries, invaded from the east on odd-numbered centuries. The inherent geography of this domain ““ everything plays to the offense. There's almost nothing inherent in the domain that plays to the defense. That really affects how you think about it when you're a GI.“

Hayden, one-time CIA boss and a deputy DNI, has grown increasingly aware of computer networks and critical infrastructure as the new international battleground and that countries and interests may not yet have a full grasp of the consequences.

“We're thinking a lot about it, but not very clearly,“ he said. “We throw the term “˜cyber war' at anything unpleasant that seems to be happening on the net.“

Cyber espionage and cyber war are two different things, Hayden said, arguing that states have engaged in espionage for years.

“That's espionage,“ he said. “States do that all the time.“

Also, it can sometimes be difficult to comprehend that consequences that extend from the cyber realm into the physical world.

“There's a reasonable chance that if you're not careful, the physical thing that went pop to make this site go away is in Houston or some other place protected by that thing called the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution,“ Hayden said. “The ubiquity of cyber access makes this far more complicated than it seems when you say we ought to take that site down [because] it's showing videos of our soldiers being tortured.“

Hayden feels that a restructuring of the Internet to include boundaries similar to those present in the physical realm would help the process.

“Rivers, hills and mountains become a military officer's friend,“ he said. “You're going to build the rivers and hills into the web. You're going to create geography that is going to help the defense.“

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