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Intel Undersecretary Describes Cyber Threat, Steps to Combat It

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2016 — Cybersecurity is a political, economic, diplomatic and military challenge, and the undersecretary of defense for intelligence explained its complexities during a panel discussion today at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

Marcel Lettre said the cyber threat is evolving and growing more acute over time.

This is because the cyber threat is not just one thing, he said; there is an espionage threat, there is a hacking threat, there is “a continuum of activities potentially ranging up to the risk of significant attacks on national infrastructure that would warrant a national response.”

The range of involved actors spans the continuum also and goes from a lone hacker to terror groups to nations, he said. “Topping the list of countries we are particularly concerned about are China, Russia, North Korea and Iran,” he said. “Each has a unique set of actors and attributes.”

Lettre said he is particularly concerned about the use of the internet “to influence events or influence the environment. We’ve had some discussion about our attribution back to Russia of some attacks that we are familiar with in the U.S., the use of social media by (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) to recruit and inspire attacks.”

With these complex threats, what can be done? “The military and the Pentagon has a strategy and a set of operational constructs that are in place that address how we would respond,” Lettre said. “One of the big pieces of this is how do we innovate to do so?”

The need for innovation is particularly acute in the cyber domain. “The pursuit of artificial intelligence, of autonomy, of deep machine learning and human/machine teaming, automatic automation, speed and agility and scaling of technology constructs are all the features of innovation in cyber that we are beginning drive,” he said.