Defense Official Details DoD Cybersecurity Environment

Robert J. Butler

Cyberspace has transformed into a new domain for combat, and the Department of Defense is working to understand the threats and opportunities this new territory poses, a senior defense official said.

“For the past 14 months, we have been trying to continue to grow [U.S.] Cyber Command and its capabilities, at the same time looking at strategy and policy,” said Robert J. Butler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy. “We need to find ways to operate more effectively in cyberspace.”

DoD needs new operating concepts for the new domain, and the department has done plenty of work in systems, education and training, as well as explored new ways of looking at resiliency and new ways to operate in different environments, Butler said.

It comes back to the warfighter, he said. There needs to be a focus on ensuring warriors can deploy, get the information they need when they deploy, track supplies and personnel and ensure logistics, he explained. They also must remain in contact with neighboring units and the home front, along with many other tasks, he added.

Butler also stressed the importance of global collaboration to protect cyberspace against threats from nations, rogue states, terrorist groups, criminal gangs and hackers.

“The focus within the strategy is to go ahead and build partnerships with like-minded nations in the areas of shared awareness, shared warning and collective response,” he said. “As we move forward, we are trying to build capacity at one level, and at another level – interdependence – you are actually laying a foundation for deterring bad behavior in cyberspace.”

Butler highlighted how Cyber Storm 3, the national cyber incident response framework exercise conducted in August, helped officials work out what the threat was, what the appropriate response was, who takes action, how do you determine conditions and postures.

Butler called the exercise a “huge learning experience for the department,” but added more work needs to be done.

“We recognize as we face this evolving threat that more will be required,” he said. “The question is what kind of hybrid models, what kind of rules, what kind of things do we need to counter a threat that continues to advance? We’ve got congressional support. We got a blueprint, and we’re working on it.”

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