THE BLOG

Its Official! Pentagon Cyber Command Gets Ready to "Stand Up"

07/25/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Washington Post (and just about everyone else) reported today that the Department of Defense's CyberCommand is logged on and ready to rumble. Actually, it is just officially unveiled and will stand up in October or so.

Information Week reports that the Command will be under Strategic Command (which is in charge of U.S. nuclear weapons) and will likely be housed at Ft Meade in Maryland.

The most interesting piece of info in their article was that the National Security Agency's Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who is the likely head of CyberCommand, will take on the new task on top of his current responsibilities. Yes: the cyberthreat is real and urgent but the guy in charge of "coordinat[ing] online military operations around the globe while also supporting civil authorities and international partners" is strictly part time. If he needs help managing this new responsibility, I suggest he contact the community college students now studying "cybersecurity" and looking for a steady paycheck.

The Pentagon wants you to know that emphasis in CyberCommand is on Defense, with a capital D. The new cybercommand "would not represent the militarization of cyberspace" said Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn to reassure the crowd at the Center for Strategic and International Studies last weekend (before the official announcement from Gates was handed down.)

But, a look at what the military contractors are gearing up for suggests that there will be a lot of offense in the mix as well....

Financial analyst Lisa Springer writes that all the big defense companies have laid out their cybernets for federal dollars. "Boeing created its Cyber Solutions division last August and Lockheed launched its cyber-defense unit last October."

Meanwhile, Springer writes, military contractor Raytheon "acquired three network security providers, plans to hire 300 certified security engineers this year, and is partnering with University of Texas researchers on new cyber solutions. Northrop Grumman is also expanding cyber security capacity and was recently awarded a DoD contract for the National Cyber Range."

And billions are at stake. Bloomberg reported in December that "U.S. government spending to secure military, intelligence and other agency computer networks is forecast to rise 44 percent to $10.7 billion in 2013 from $7.4 billion this year, according to a report by market forecaster Input."

Meanwhile, no final word on who will be the new jewel in President Obama's already crowded crown of czars--the Cyber Czar. Ryan Singel of Wired.com blogged that Tom Davis, former Republican Representative from Virginia and resolute cyberpeaker is on Obama's short list (cyberpeaker is my new word to describe someone who has a record of being on the wrong side of the respect for privacy) for the post.

So, there is a lot going beneath the surface of our placid computer screens, buzzing through the thick ropes of wires, humming in the pulses of satellites and sensors. I am trying to stay on top of the political, corporate and military machinations in the cybersecruity arena, but I am on a steep learning curve.

I am interested in any thoughts readers and bloggers have about the possibility/ feasibility of traditional arms control instruments (like international treaties) in the cyber realm.

It seems to me that the Pentagon, the administration and the military industrial complex are all treating cyberspace like any other battle domain-- land, air, sea and space--so maybe we need to bring treaties and other multilateral instruments into play before the cyber-arms race really gets out of control...