U.S. Army General: In Cyberspace, Best Defense Is Good Offense

Article excerpt

Using a sports analogy, a U.S. Army general said offense is a good defense in cybersecurity.

"We learn more from offense in cyberspace than from defense," said Army Gen. Keith Alexander, a commander of U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency and chief of Central Security Service. He addressed about 200 people Monday in the Great Hall at the Allen Chapman Activity Center at the University of Tulsa.

"I think offense in cyberspace has the advantage. We take what we learn on offense and apply it to defense - then we make our military network even more secure," Alexander said.

Globally, cybersecurity is "a big deal," Alexander said, citing statistics from McAfee Inc. such as $1 trillion in intellectual property being stolen worldwide in 2009.

"The theft of intellectual property is a drain on our economy as the amount of money stolen in cyberspace is huge. It is an economic issue we must address," Alexander said.

Over the past 20 years, the progression of cyberattacks around the globe has gone from exploitation to disruption to destruction, he said.

Alexander, a West Point graduate, plans, coordinates and conducts operations and defense of U.S. Department of Defense computer networks. As the director of NSA and chief of CSS, he is responsible for a Department of Defense agency with national foreign intelligence, combat support and U.S. national security information system protection responsibilities.

The University of Tulsa, a NSA-designated faculty development center, is one of only 30 centers offering the Cyber Corps program, a federal initiative to train an elite group of computer security experts to defend U.S. computer networks. Graduates of the TU Cyber Corps serve at federal agencies like the NSA, CIA, FBI and NASA.

Alexander said the nation's military networks are secure, but that is not good enough.

"I am saying we are not where we need to be," Alexander said during a question-and-answer session following his speech. …