BBC’s Newsnight was invited to listen in at the conference on Cyber Defense and Network Security. Here are excerpts of their report.
Overall, the US military aims to recruit 10,000 “cyber warriors”, and is apparently prepared to relax the usual entry criteria. They will accept long hair, even someone who can’t run too well. But there is a minimum requirement. Recruits will naturally be at the top of their field. They will be “a professional elite… trusted and disciplined, and precise… collateral damage is not acceptable,” Lt Gen Hernandez told delegates….
John Bumgarner, from the US Cyber Consequences Unit in Washington told Newsnight there will soon be a need for a virtual UN peacekeeping force – in cyberspace.”We’ve seen cyber incidents between Russia and Georgia, and that’s ongoing. We’ve seen incidents between Pakistan and India and that’s ongoing. We’ve seen stuff between China and India… between Israel and other Middle Eastern states. The UN needs to figure out how they can deploy peace keepers in the digital borders of a nation, virtual peacekeepers that would protect the peace.”
Sir John thinks the cyber threat is growing by definition because use of the internet is growing. But he sees this as more than a purely military domain.”There’s quite a lot of talk about cyber warfare, and cyber attacks as if this is a military issue. Of course there are military aspects to it and military infrastructure aspects to it, and in the event of some future state-to-state conflict undoubtedly this would be a huge feature. But in the immediate term this is something which is happening now, the attacks and the downloading and the theft and the invasion of privacy are happening now on a day-by-day basis.”…Stewart Room of Field Fisher Waterhouse said there was now a need for an amnesty – instead of punishment – for companies that suffered a data loss or cyber-attack. An amnesty, he argued, would help to encourage companies to come forward and discuss what went wrong – so that others could learn, fast. He is also calling for a new “cyber law”, to formalise best practice….
Headlines about cyber attacks pop up almost daily now. One of the most startling was the attack on the global intelligence firm Stratfor over Christmas, for which members of the loose-knit hacker group Anonymous claimed responsibility.John Bumgarner analysed the data released for the Guardian newspaper and concluded that thousands of British email addresses and passwords – including those of defence, intelligence and police officials as well as politicians and Nato advisers – had been revealed. Mr Bumgarner chuckled when we asked if the Stratfor release might dent people’s confidence in the ability of even the most security-conscious of organisations to keep data safe. “We’re taking it on blind faith… really when you give your information out as a private citizen to a corporation you’re praying that that corporation will protect your data… as much as possible, but they can only do so much.”
Excerpts, Susan Watts, Call for cyberwar ‘peacekeepers’ , BBC, Jan. 26, 2012