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article imageUS Cyber command creates 40 new teams for protection and attacks

By Ken Hanly     Mar 14, 2013 in Politics
Washington - General Keith Alexander is head of both the National Security Agency and the US Cyber Command. Alexander told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that the 40 teams should be ready by 2015.
Alexander said that 13 of the teams will be offensive fighters specifically designed to attack other countries. While the US constantly complains about cyber attacks from countries such as China, the US together with Israel are thought to have already engaged in cyber warfare that sabotaged the operation of centrifuges in Iran through the Stuxnet worm.
Obama has emphasized recently the threat from China stating explicitly that some attacks from China are definitely sponsored by the state. These attacks seem to be aimed at espionage rather than sabotage. Alexander said that the 13 squads of "offensive fighters" will not be sitting around waiting for foreign hackers to strike first. This sounds very much a variation of the extended notion of self-defense that is used to justify pre-emptive wars and drone strikes. Can you imagine what would happen if on reading about this doctrine, China decides to introduce a Mao worm that disrupts the US power grid operations on the grounds that this is self-defense since the US is planning cyber attacks against them.
Alexander said that the 40 squads will be "defend-the-nation" teams although he noted that as well as defend they will attack. Alexander told reporters:“I would like to be clear that this team. . . is an offensive team.The teams are analogous to battalions in the Army and Marine Corps — or squadrons in the Navy and Air Force.In short, they will soon be capable of operating on their own, with a range of operational and intelligence skill sets, as well as a mix of military and civilian personnel.”
The units will focus on protecting vital computer networks from attacks, supporting cyber attacks, and keeping the Pentagon's information systems secure. Alexander compared the teams to missile defense systems but with added offensive capabilities. Obama signed an order last year that outlined the offensive capabilities of the US cyber squads but of course this order remains classified. Obama said during a recent interview:"What is absolutely true is that we have seen a steady ramping up of cyber security threats."
Obama has also signed an order that will enable private businesses to share threat information with the federal government. Many cyber attacks are companies spying on each other to obtain valuable information. Obama said:“I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs and our privacy”
This was announced during the State of the Union address. Obama urged Congress to pass new legislation "to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks.” For once the politicians were quick to act. The very next day members of Congress reintroduced the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protects Act (CISPA). Recent attacks on military computers, government servers, utility companies and banks have been attributed to Iran, China, but also the Tunisian Cyber Army and Al-Qaeda Electronic Army. One wonders if a group such as the Al-Qaeda Electronic Army is perhaps actually a CIA sponsored group designed to help gain more funding for the 40 new cyber warfare squads. Also, no doubt as part of defending people, legislation is being drafted to let the government access Americans' financial records.
More about Us Cyber Command, cyber warfare, Cyber espionage
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