New U.S. Cyber-Defense Strategy a Two-Edged Sword

By Mike Elgan  |  Posted 2015-05-16 Print this article Print
Cyber-Defense Policy

3. The Pentagon wants to enlist private companies into the cause.

Interestingly, though not surprisingly, a big part of the new strategy is to help the "private sector" do a better job securing its own company networks.

Carter also proposed "private-sector exchange programs" to attract security talent into the military and to increase security research. The Pentagon plans to open a new office at Silicon Valley's Moffett Field (managed by Google as part of a 60-year lease deal with NASA), which will not only enable the military to be closer to commercial technology, but also function as a venture arm to direct money to startups creating technology of use to the cyber-security effort.

The military will use a venture capital firm called In-Q-Tel, which was set up by U.S. intelligence agencies 16 years ago to support new cyber-technology development.

It's clear that this new office will serve as a headquarters where the Pentagon will try to build bridges to the major Silicon Valley companies.

In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, mistrust is at an all-time high between the government and the nation's high-tech community. The government in general and the Pentagon in particular see this mistrust as part of the threat to national security. Part of the new mission seems to be to rebuild trust and foster cooperation.

The most interesting goal of the new office, however, is that the military hopes Silicon Valley's culture of turning failure into an advantage will rub off on Pentagon technologists. While government projects in general are focused on avoiding failure, Silicon Valley succeeds by accepting failure as part of the learning process. The goal is to fail as fast as you can so you can learn and move forward.

There's good news and bad news for IT professionals or someone who works in the private-sector technology community.

The good news is that the Pentagon plans to do something about the ongoing state-sponsored hack attacks that just keep getting worse. Moreover, the government's deep pockets will step up investment in security-related technology that will probably benefit companies and enterprises.

That bad news is that state-sponsored cyber-war is here to stay. The nature of hacking-related hostilities is such that government hackers can usually cover their tracks and will never run out of targets.

If they can't hit the military, they hit the government. If they can't hit the government, they go after the economy by attacking and making demands of private companies by spreading malware, stealing trade secrets and forcing them to spend huge amounts of money in a mostly futile effort to block the attacks.

There's simply no alternative than to invest in strong security and button up your company's policies.

Welcome to the new Cold War. Let's just hope it stays cold.



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