Pentagon to bolster cyber capabilities
The Pentagon’s researchers plan to bolster their efforts to create offensive weapons for use in cyber warfare, reflecting a growing concern over digital threats, U.S. officials said Nov. 7.
The U.S. government needed “more and better options” to safeguard the country from assaults on sensitive computer networks and had to invest in both offensive and defensive tools, said Regina Dugan, director of the Pentagon’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
“Malicious cyber attacks are not merely an existential threat to our bits and bytes. They are a real threat to our physical systems, including our military systems,” Dugan told a conference. “To this end, in the coming years we will focus an increasing portion of our cyber research on the investigation of offensive capabilities to address military-specific needs,” she said.
DARPA has proposed boosting funding in cyber research in the proposed 2012 budget from $120 million to $208 million and the Defense Department leadership has called for $500 million in funding for cyber security over the next five years, she said. With other countries pursuing cyber warfare capabilities and the danger from digital attacks growing by the day, the United States had to look at developing “offensive” arms to protect national security, said Dugan, without specifying what weapons could be employed.
While Pentagon plans to bolster their efforts in cyber world, a former top U.S. cyber security official said America’s critical computer networks are so vulnerable to attack that it should deter U.S. leaders from going to war with other nations.
Richard Clarke, a top adviser to three presidents, joined a number of U.S. military and civilian experts in offering a dire assessment of America’s cyber security at a conference, saying the country simply cannot protect its critical networks. Clarke said if he were advising the president, he would warn against attacking other countries because so many of them, including China, North Korea, Iran and Russia, could retaliate by launching devastating cyber attacks that could destroy power grids, banking networks or transportation systems.
The U.S. military, he said, is entirely dependent on computer systems and could end up in a future conflict. He added that the U.S. also needs to make it clear to countries such as China that efforts to use computer-based attacks to steal high-tech American data will be punished.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.