Pentagon Launches New Classified Security Command

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bill Gerneglia


Article By Tom Groenfeldt

Maybe I missed the US coverage, but the Financial Times surprised me with news of USCybercom, America's Cyber Command.

I have written about Richard Clarke, the former anti-terrorism chief under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who wrote about the dangers to the US in his new book, Cyber War.

He described the possibility of China's shutting down Chicago, from electric grid to water, sewer and traffic control, to persuade the US to lay off its support of Taiwan. The Chinese have already implanted computer controls in parts of the electric grid, he said.

USCybercom will be run by General Keith Alexander who testified before Congress as his confirmation hearing, but a lot of the testimony has been censored. He did say that the Pentagon's computer systems are probed 250,000 times an hour or up to six million times a day.

Clarke, who rang the alarm over cybersecurity, isn't entirely comforted by the new command.

As the FT reports:

"We created a new military command," he wrote, "to conduct a new kind of ­high-tech war, without public debate, media discussion, serious congressional oversight, academic analysis or international dialogue."

Misha Glenny, who wrote the FT story, says "so much of Alexander's testimony to Congress has been classified that nobody outside the Pentagon and the White House quite knows what the military cyber-strategy involves."

The task is immense. The FT story says the Pentagon runs 7 million computers across 15,000 networks to support 4,000 military installations around the world.

The vulnerability was demonstrated in 2008 when a solider in the Middle East stuck a contaminated USB sick into a Pentagon laptop and unleashed a mlaicious code that could transfer classified and unclassified information fom the US network to an alien server.

Glenny says the Stuxnet virus has ratcheted the game up a couple of notches. The virus, perhaps developed by Israel to target Iran's nuclear engineering program, is so sophisticated that even after several months computer experts haven't been able to fully decode it.

This is a story that anyone involved in security should read.

Cross-posted from CIO Zone

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J. Oquendo Every so often I like to have fun with numbers myself and today, in an attempt to draw "awe" to attacks and the current state of "attacks", here is some hard math. Slightly over half a dozen of my VoIP systems faced 1,449,239 attacks in October. Translation: 80,513 attacks per day or 3354 attacks per hour. These are only the numbers I care to lazily parse from logged events. The total number of machines I am including in this article are 7 publicly accessible machines which yields about 479 attacks per hour per server. Not a big deal is it? If I balloon my network to say 7,000,000 machines (which is what the article states) I would yield: 3,353,000,000 per hour such an astronomical number wouldn't you say? Benjamin Disraeli once said: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." The Pentagon states they face so many attacks yet when we break down the numbers, they are not so bad. What constitutes an attack? Someone actually attacking or any probe of their machine.

For example, sometimes I test a server via telnet to see if it is up, for example: telnet 80 Would this constitute abnormal behavior? An attack? This is not to say that the Pentagon ISN'T under attack, solely to raise awareness on numbers and politics. So what. 1,449,239 VALIDATED attacks since the beginning of the month. These are only VoIP based attacks. I can have so much fun with numbers and prove anything I'd like statistically its all a matter of perception. Maybe I should use these stats to raise my department's budget.
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