The First Cyberspace Strategy By U.S. Defense

Cyberspace is a defining feature of modern life. Individuals and communities worldwide connect, socialize, and organize themselves in and through cyberspace. From 2000 to 2010, global Internet usage increased from 360 million to over 2 billion people. As Internet usage continues to expand, cyberspace will become increasingly woven into the fabric of everyday life across the globe. 
U.S. and international businesses trade goods and services in cyberspace, moving assets across the globe in seconds. In addition to facilitating trade in other sectors, cyberspace is itself a key sector of the global economy. Cyberspace has become an incubator for new forms of entrepreneurship, advances in technology, the spread of free speech, and new social networks that drive our economy and reflect our principles. The security and effective operation of U.S. critical infrastructure – including energy, banking and finance, transportation, communication, and the Defense Industrial Base – rely on cyberspace, industrial control systems, and information technology that may be vulnerable to disruption or exploitation. 
Along with the rest of the U.S. government, the Department of Defense (DoD) depends on cyberspace to function. It is difficult to overstate this reliance; DoD operates over 15,000 networks and seven million computing devices across hundreds of installations in dozens of countries around the globe. DoD uses cyberspace to enable its military, intelligence, and business operations, including the movement of personnel and material and the command and control of the full spectrum of military operations. 
The Department and the nation have vulnerabilities in cyberspace. Our reliance on cyberspace stands in stark contrast to the inadequacy of our cybersecurity – the security of the technologies that we use each day. Moreover, the continuing growth of networked systems, devices, and platforms means that cyberspace is embedded into an increasing number of capabilities upon which DoD relies to complete its mission. Today, many foreign nations are working to exploit DoD unclassified and classified networks, and some foreign intelligence organizations have already acquired the capacity to disrupt elements of DoD’s information infrastructure. 
Moreover, non-state actors increasingly threaten to penetrate and disrupt DoD networks and systems. We recognize that there may be malicious activities on DoD networks and systems that we have not yet detected. 

DoD, working with its interagency and international partners, seeks to mitigate the risks posed to U.S. and allied cyberspace capabilities, while protecting and respecting the principles of privacy and civil liberties, free expression, and innovation that have made cyberspace an integral part of U.S. prosperity and security. How the Department leverages the opportunities of cyberspace, while managing inherent uncertainties and reducing vulnerabilities, will significantly impact U.S. defensive readiness and national security for years to come. 


As does the nation as a whole, DoD relies on a secure and reliable cyberspace that protects fundamental freedoms, privacy, and the free flow of information. In support of both U.S. core commitments and national security, DoD has significant strengths and opportunities in cyberspace. The U.S. military’s ability to use cyberspace for rapid communication and information sharing in support of operations is a critical enabler of DoD missions. More broadly, DoD’s depth of knowledge in the global information and communications technology sector, including its cybersecurity expertise, provides the Department with strategic advantages in cyberspace. 
The quality of the United States’ human capital and knowledge base in both the public and private sectors provides DoD with a strong foundation on which to build current and future cyber capabilities. DoD has played a crucial role in building and leveraging the technological prowess of the U.S. private sector through investments in people, research, and technology. DoD will continue to embrace this spirit of entrepreneurship and work in partnership with these communities and institutions to succeed in its future cyberspace activities. 
Given the dynamism of cyberspace, nations must work together to defend their common interests and promote security. DoD’s relationship with U.S. allies and international partners provides a strong foundation upon which to further U.S. international cyberspace cooperation. Continued international engagement, collective self-defense, and the establishment of international cyberspace norms will also serve to strengthen cyberspace for the benefit of all. 


The Internet was designed to be collaborative, rapidly expandable, and easily adaptable to technological innovation. Information flow took precedence over content integrity; identity authentication was less important than connectivity. The Internet’s original designers could not have imagined the extent of its vital and growing role for DoD and its operations. The global scope of DoD networks and systems presents adversaries with broad opportunities for exploitation and attack. 
Low barriers to entry for malicious cyber activity, including the widespread availability of hacking tools, mean that an individual or small group of determined cyber actors can potentially cause significant damage to both DoD and U.S. national and economic security. Small-scale technologies can have an impact disproportionate to their size; potential adversaries do not have to build expensive weapons systems to pose a significant threat to U.S. national security.
In developing its strategy for operating in cyberspace, DoD is focused on a number of central aspects of the cyber threat; these include external threat actors, insider threats, supply chain vulnerabilities, and threats to DoD‘s operational ability. DoD must address vulnerabilities and the concerted efforts of both state and non-state actors to gain unauthorized access to its networks and systems. 
Foreign cyberspace operations against U.S. public and private sector systems are increasing in number and sophistication. DoD networks are probed millions of times every day, and successful penetrations have led to the loss of thousands of files from U.S. networks and those of U.S. allies and industry partners. Moreover, this threat continues to evolve as evidence grows of adversaries focusing on the development of increasingly sophisticated and potentially dangerous capabilities. 
The potential for small groups to have an asymmetric impact in cyberspace creates very real incentives for malicious activity. Beyond formal governmental activities, cyber criminals can control botnets with millions of infected hosts. The tools and techniques developed by cyber criminals are increasing in sophistication at an incredible rate, and many of these capabilities can be purchased cheaply on the Internet. Whether the goal is monetary, access to intellectual property, or the disruption of critical DoD systems, the rapidly evolving threat landscape presents a complex and vital challenge for national and economic security. 

Some cyber threats also may come from insiders. Malicious insiders may exploit their access at the behest of foreign governments, terrorist groups, criminal elements, unscrupulous associates, or on their own initiative. Whether malicious insiders are committing espionage, making a political statement, or expressing personal disgruntlement, the consequences for DoD, and national security, can be devastating. 
Software and hardware are at risk of malicious tampering even before they are integrated into an operational system. The majority of information technology products used in the United States are manufactured and assembled overseas. The reliance of DoD on foreign manufacturing and development creates challenges in managing risk at points of design, manufacture, service, distribution, and disposal. 
Potential U.S. adversaries may seek to exploit, disrupt, deny, and degrade the networks and systems that DoD depends on for its operations. DoD is particularly concerned with three areas of potential adversarial activity: theft or exploitation of data; disruption or denial of access or service that affects the availability of networks, information, or network-enabled resources; and destructive action including corruption, manipulation, or direct activity that threatens to destroy or degrade networks or connected systems. 

Cyber threats to U.S. national security go well beyond military targets and affect all aspects of society. Hackers and foreign governments are increasingly able to launch sophisticated intrusions into the networks and systems that control critical civilian infrastructure. Given the integrated nature of cyberspace, computer-induced failures of power grids, transportation networks, or financial systems could cause massive physical damage and economic disruption. DoD operations—both at home and abroad—are dependent on this critical infrastructure. 
While the threat to intellectual property is often less visible than the threat to critical infrastructure, it may be the most pervasive cyber threat today. Every year, an amount of intellectual property larger than that contained in the Library of Congress is stolen from networks maintained by U.S. businesses, universities, and government departments and agencies. As military strength ultimately depends on economic vitality, sustained intellectual property losses erode both U.S. military effectiveness and national competitiveness in the global economy. 


National security is being redefined by cyberspace. In addition to opportunities, DoD faces significant cyberspace challenges. The Department’s military, intelligence, and business operations all depend upon cyberspace for mission success. The “Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace” assesses these challenges and opportunities and sets a strategic approach for DoD’s cyber mission. 
The Department’s five strategic initiatives offer a roadmap for DoD to operate effectively in cyberspace, defend national interests, and achieve national security objectives. Each initiative is distinct, yet necessarily connected with the other four. Across the strategy, activities undertaken in one initiative will contribute to DoD’s strategic thinking and lead to new approaches in the others.
By pursuing the activities in this strategy, DoD will capitalize on the opportunities afforded to the Department by cyberspace; defend DoD networks and systems against intrusions and malicious activity; support efforts to strengthen cybersecurity for interagency, international, and critical industry partners; and develop robust cyberspace capabilities and partnerships. This strategy will guide the Department’s defense of U.S. interests in cyberspace so that the United States and its allies and partners may continue to benefit from the innovations of the information age.

To read the full Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace Click HERE

-News Source (Defence Professionals)


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