Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Guarding Cyberspace Global Network Operations

Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Guarding Cyberspace Global Network Operations

Article excerpt

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President George Bush's National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (NSSC) describes cyberspace as the nervous system of our country. The NSSC outlines--for all Federal, state, and local governments, private companies and organizations, and individual Americans--a framework to deter adversaries and assure cyberspace freedoms.

Today, instant cyberspace communication has forever changed and flattened our world. Cyberspace provides unprecedented access to goods, services, and information in a world that is fundamentally more complex than ever before. It drives the global economy and connects people in ever-changing contexts. It also creates dependencies in every element of a society's infrastructure: transportation, banking, public utilities, education, governance, diplomacy, and national defense. And no nation is more dependent on cyberspace than ours.

Dependence creates vulnerability, and nothing is more inherently vulnerable than cyberspace. Like previous eras, ours is populated by outlaws and charlatans, thieves and pirates, who threaten the viability of the domain in the name of greed, political or ideological hegemony, or military advantage. What is required is a change in our view of cyberspace: as a matter of national interest and national security, it must be viewed as battlespace.

With that operational perspective, cyberspace becomes a warfighting domain--akin to land, sea, and air--where we are engaged in defending our national interests and security. Our society is linked in cyberspace. We are network-centric: network-dependent and network-defined. This "netcentricity" must be defended, just as any other element of our society must be defended. The weapons system leading the battle is the Department of Defense Global Information Grid (DOD GIG).

Basic to this notion is the integration of cyberspace capabilities across the full range of military operations. The designated military lead for cyberspace operations, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), directs the operation and defense of the DOD GIG to assure timely and secure net-centric capabilities in support of the full spectrum of warfighting, intelligence, and business missions. This is the frontline of the new battlespace.

USSTRATCOM's agent for this action is the Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations (JTF-GNO), which was created out of a series of real-world cyber events in 1997 that targeted DOD networks. Those events clearly showed two things: the vulnerability of DOD mission-essential computer assets and the need for a single organization with the appropriate levels of authority to defend these globally interconnected networks, associated information capabilities, processes, and information.

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The JTF-GNO manages four overarching concerns: who is on the GIG, what does the GIG look like, where are the vulnerabilities, and how can risks be mitigated? The JTF-GNO addresses those concerns by serving as the fusion point for its mission partners and producing alerts, bulletins, assessments, and tasking orders. In addition, it manages the status of Information Condition (INFOCON), the alert system governing the defensive tactics and policies that users of the GIG need to follow.

The GIG is hit with millions of scans every day, and while the vast majority are deflected, each must be treated as a potential intrusion attempt. Complicating this effort is the fact that our information management systems are largely based on commercial software--the same software available to adversaries and malicious actors. Advances in computer information technology are available globally, making the threat to the GIG extensive, pervasive, and increasingly sophisticated.

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This battlespace demands a proactive, preventive capability; a flexible, layered defense; rapid detection; robust response options; shared situational awareness across cyber domains; timely warning of impending attacks; effective defensive tools; and measures to defeat attacks as they occur. …

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