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Defense of US networks

March 20th, 2009 Comments off

A WaPo article discusses a recent congressional testimony from the General Chilton, the commander of US STRATCOM.  It doesn’t go too far in depth, but it seems to show that Gen. Chilton is on top of things, testifying that:

  • as a nation we have our cyber pants down
  • the military does not protect vital private networks
  • the NSA is currently the agency best suited to do everything cyber
  • offense and defense are inseparable

Side note: I wish more people appreciated this last point.  In computers, to be good at defense, you have to know offense, and vise versa.  Duh.  I’m sick of “ethical hacker” this and “white hat” that.  Policemen and soldiers don’t go around calling themselves “ethical marksmen” or “guys who only shoot people who really need to be shot.”  You don’t hear about pyrotechnicians licensed as “certified dudes who only blow things up with permission.”

Whatever.  Anyway, from the article, it looks like a refreshingly candid statement of the state of things.  It also looks like Gen. Chilton isn’t grabbing for power and the attendant funding.  Good to see.

I’ve always wondered where Article IV Section 4 of the US Constitution comes into play here:

SECTION 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Is it Invasion if foreign folk break into my network?  Is the federal government therefore obligated to protect my network?  Does this apply even if my network is insignificant?

Cyber things generally form a big grey area of domestic law and policy, and an even greyer area of international law and policy.  It’s interesting to think about how it could all shake out some day.

Categories: DoD