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Cyber-Command May Help Protect Civilian Networks

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The U.S. Pentagon is considering establishing a new cyber-command to oversee government efforts to protect military computer networks and to assist in protecting civilian government networks, says National Security Agency (NSA) director Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander. The new command would focus on better protecting U.S. military computers by combining the offensive and defensive capabilities of the military and the NSA. The NSA also wants to provide technical support to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is responsible for protecting civilian networks from cyberattacks.

Alexander says it makes sense for DHS and the Defense Department to use the same security technology. Former top DHS cybersecurity official Amit Yoran says the NSA has significant depth and expertise, but cautions that the effort must be transparent. "DHS needs to be very, very cautious about its participation in a program like that because you could fundamentally erode the trust DHS needs in order to be successful in its broader security mission," Yoran says. Any effort involving the NSA that goes beyond protecting military networks requires careful legal analysis, according to Yoran.

Alexander says a variety of questions need to be answered before attempting a partnership with DHS, including what is the framework for sharing classified threat signatures, how to operate at network speed in a defendable manner, and what is the legal and operational framework.

From Washington Post
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