Securing the U.S. Defense Information Infrastructure: A Proposed Approach

By Robert H. Anderson; Phillip M. Feldman Scott et al. | Go to book overview

SUMMARY

It is widely believed, and increasingly documented, that the United States is vulnerable to various types of “information warfare” (IW) attacks. Threats range from “nuisance” attacks by hackers to those potentially putting national security at risk. The latter might include attacks on essential U.S. information systems in a major regional crisis or theater war. The purpose might be to deter (or coerce) a U.S. intervention, to degrade U.S. power projection capabilities, to punish the United States or its allies, or to undermine the support of the American public for the conflict. Critical command-and-control and intelligence systems are designed to be robust and secure under at/ tack. However, their survivability cannot be taken for granted, and they depend on a diverse—primarily civilian and commercial—in/ formation infrastructure (consisting of the Internet and the public telephone network, among other elements).

As the diversity and potential seriousness of threats to the U.S. in/ formation infrastructure have become apparent, national-security planners and analysts have begun to think of ways to counter such threats—to increase the infrastructure's security. One immediately attractive alternative was to designate some portion of the infrastruc/ ture as the essential minimum and to harden that portion against attacks. A variant on that concept is to construct a survivable system serving the essential minimum functions, but through other means, such as dynamically reconfiguring after an attack to use remaining available resources.

In this report, we rethink the concept of a minimum essential infor/ mation infrastructure (MEII) in light of the characteristics of the na/

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