11 June 2009

4GW: U.S. CyberSpace OPS Risk...

The Washington, DC beltway bandits are buzzing in anticipation of President Obama's selection for the next defender and policy maker for United States CyberSpace. We wonder what branch of the armed forces s/he will be associated with and to what degree they gain the agreement of the power base that CyberSpace is indeed a "Strategic National Asset", once and for all.

Meanwhile, OPS Risk Managers are dealing with transnational non-state actors (in some cases funded by nation states) that are robbing our private sector and government agencies blind. Stealing Personal Identifiable Information (PII), Corporate Intellectual Property, Defense R & D and classified State secrets. The next commander of U.S. CyberSpace has an even bigger job once the job starts; protecting and defending our country's vital Digital Infrastructure. This nexus of criminal, terrorist and irregular warfare is being waged on a 24/7 basis here in the homeland.

So how do you go about fighting this 4th Generation (4GW) war comprised of well organized, decentralized, clandestine subjects operating in the cyber shadows? This begins with creating an effective Information Sharing Environment (ISE), a fusion of who, what, when, how, where and maybe why. Defending the nation against the physical attacks of the likes of Al-Qaida or the virtual attacks from Yingcracker has some very interesting similarities.

If the next Secretary of U.S. CyberSpace is going to take the fight to those who wish to copy, delete, probe, scan, flood, bypass, steal, modify and spoof their way across our Digital Infrastructure, they could learn from this synopsis from Robert Haddick:

Does it take a network to beat a network?

On June 5 United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) wraps up a week-long war game designed to test the Pentagon's vision of warfare in the future. The war game looks ahead to the year 2020 and examines how U.S. and allied military forces -- along with civilian government, non-government, and international institutions -- cope with a failing state, a globally networked terrorist organization, and a peer competitor. The results of the war game are supposed to influence the conclusions of this year's Quadrennial Defense Review, an in-depth review of the Pentagon's strategies.

Officials at USJFCOM won't discuss the results of the war game until at least July; many of the most interesting conclusions may remain classified. But the commander of USJFCOM, General James Mattis of the Marine Corps, described his vision of the future while delivering a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mattis discussed how today's adversaries have adapted to U.S. conventional military superiority by forming disaggregated networks of small irregular teams that hide among indigenous populations. United States military forces, by contrast, have only come under greater central control. According to Mattis, this shift is due to evolutions in intelligence-gathering and communications technologies. Call it the new iron law of military bureaucracies: when commanders gain the technical ability to micromanage, they will micromanage.

Mattis believes that in order to defeat modern decentralized networks, U.S. forces will have to become decentralized themselves. This will entail giving autonomy to and requiring initiative from the youngest junior leaders in the Army and Marine Corps. High-performance small infantry units, "a national imperative" according to Mattis, will need to operate independent from higher control, finding their own solutions to local problems as they implement broader policy guidance.

Whether the troops are fast roping out of helicopters or behind the flat screen detecting and analyzing the stealth cyber attack, the approach to defeating the adversaries is much the same. Infiltrating the "cells" and collecting valuable INTEL on the global enemy is what gives us the "Ground Truth." The commander for U.S. CyberSpace will soon be educated on the private sectors role in achieving this continuous and lofty goal of a creating more decentralized and clandestine citizen soldiers.

As the private sector battles the non-state actors for preservation and protection of valuable customer data, corporations are simultaneously being attacked by adversarial plaintiff lawyers.

U.S. insurer Aetna has been targeted in a lawsuit alleging it failed to protect personal information of employees and job applicants, documents indicate.

The lawsuit comes after Aetna, of Hartford, Conn., was struck by computer hackers to access a company Web site holding personal data for 450,000 current and former employees as well as job applicants, the Hartford Courant reported Wednesday.

The private sector would enjoy having our government involved in more proactive efforts to seek out and stop these criminal and terrorist entities that prey on organizations that remain vulnerable. The Operational Risks associated with litigation in the corporate enterprise are here to stay. If the public and private sector can once and for all coordinate, collaborate and "Share Information", we can disrupt, capture, prosecute and defeat our cyber adversaries.

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