FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- The growth of cyberspace and the need to keep it secure present many complex public policy challenges that must be addressed in a rapidly changing domain, Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command and Second Army, told students and faculty at Georgetown University, Feb. 12.
Cardon's remarks were the centerpiece of a discussion with approximately 50 members of the security studies program at the university's School of Foreign Service. University officials said graduates of the school typically fill positions as consultants and political risk analysts in the Defense Department, State Department, within the intelligence community, in research organizations and other governmental, non-governmental and international agencies.
Speaking on the 206th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, Cardon explained how Lincoln became America's "first 'wired' president" when he began using the telegraph as a means of rapidly communicating with commanders at the front of the Civil War. But its use as a weapons system also immediately generated the need to protect the telegraph network and sparked debate about how to employ it in a way that served national interests without violating civil liberties.
That debate has continued to accompany every advance in communications technology, up to today's advances into cyberspace, the general said. But he added that cyberspace is more complex and has become a domain in its own right, where the number of threats and vulnerabilities are increasing as barriers to entry are decreasing.
"If you wanted to be a hardcore hacker 20 years ago, you had to be a hardware engineer or a software engineer. Today you just have to be good at downloading stuff off the Internet," he said.
Building defenses against this growing threat of attacks in cyberspace requires approaches that reach across lines between the services and government agencies, across the lines between the public sector and private industry, and across international borders.
For example, Cardon explained, information traveling in cyberspace can move anywhere on the globe and touch many diverse public and private entities. And even the definition of an attack and the potential response to attack are affected by international agreements. So defining "who owns the problem" and how to respond are demanding questions with potentially far-reaching implications.
"There's a real challenge here," Cardon said. "When you say 'attack in cyberspace', what does that really mean? [From a policy standpoint], when you say 'attack', there are a lot of treaties in place that say, 'We'll come in defense of an attack,' so you can instantly start to see how complex this could become rapidly."
Cardon's presentation was followed by a question-and-answer session that generated discussion not just about cyberspace policy, but also about how the Army is building its cyber forces and Cyber branch, how it is reaching out to the private sector to craft and share best practices, and how it is partnering with its sister services to create joint forces, policies and procedures.
Maj. Jeff Mackinnon is a strategist in the ARCYBER headquarters and a 2012 graduate of the Georgetown program. Mackinnon said the challenges spawned by today's rapidly changing capabilities and threats make educating current and future leaders and engaging in continual dialogue about those issues critical.
"As the cyberspace environment and threat continue to evolve, our ideas of operating within cyberspace must continue to evolve as well," the major said. "To facilitate that evolution and maintain an edge in cyberspace capabilities, political, military and thought leaders should facilitate discussions about how cyberspace operations effect and are effected by our current ideas and public policies. Without a robust debate our policies run a significant risk of becoming stagnant."
ABOUT US: Army Cyber Command and Second Army directs and conducts cyberspace operations as authorized or directed, to ensure freedom of action in and through cyberspace, and to deny the same to our adversaries