The United States have, for the first time, admitted to developing an offensive cyber strategy. General Keith Alexander, chief of the NSA and the military’s new cyber command, told Congress that 13 teams of programmers and computer experts are being trained by the military to carry out offensive duties (which, to my mind, means they’re probably set up and ready to go already).
Previously, defence had been the keyword for electronic warfare operations (assuming you discount the nukes) but Alexander was unequivocal in what he said to the Armed Services Committee on Tuesday –
“I would like to be clear that this team, this defend-the-nation team, is not a defensive team. This is an offensive team that the Defense Department would use to defend the nation if it were attacked in cyberspace. Thirteen of the teams that we’re creating are for that mission alone.”
The New York Times
In addition to the 13 offensive teams (I wonder if some will end up qualifying for the new medal?) there will also be another 27 which will focus upon surveillance and training. These more defensive teams will monitor incoming traffic to the US from private ‘internet service providers’ which is a vague enough statement that some will likely worry about the legalities of any surveillance they do actually engage in.
It will also be interesting to see how this ongoing US cyber strategy sits with calls from China to increase rules and cooperation in this arena.