Reform

Cyber Strategy Protects Critical U.S. Infrastructure

Sept. 6, 2019 | BY David Vergun

Last spring, the Defense Department embarked on a new cyber strategy that will play an increasingly important, yet nontraditional supporting role: protecting critical infrastructure in the homeland.

Burke E. "Ed" Wilson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Cyber Policy, spoke about the "Pathfinder" strategy during a panel discussion yesterday at the 10th Annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington.

Seated man speaks during a panel discussion.
Burke E. “Ed” Wilson
Burke E. “Ed” Wilson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Cyber Policy, speaks at the 10th annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, Sept. 4, 2019.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 190904-D-UB488-004C

"[It is] new territory for the department, so we're not trying to overarchitect or overthink the problem," Wilson said. "We're trying to ... begin collaboration with industry and interagency partners to understand roles and responsibilities and the unique attributes, scale, scope and perspectives that the department can bring in defense of critical infrastructure."

DOD has already begun partnering with other government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, as well as with critical infrastructure representatives, he said.

U.S. Cyber Command and some intelligence agency representatives also are sharing information in Pathfinder, such as indicators of compromise and systemic risk, he said.

Wires plugged into a circuit board.
Circuit Board
Illustrative photograph depicting technology.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 190904-D-UB488-006C

The Defense Department is focused on two key infrastructure assets, Wilson said: financial institutions and the energy sector. Regarding the electrical grid, that partnership also includes the Energy Department.

Pathfinder is making headway, Wilson said. "There's a lot of wind in that sail," he added. "We're making good progress."

Man on panel speaks.
Cybersecurity Summit
Burke E. “Ed” Wilson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Cyber Policy, speaks at the 10th annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, Sept. 5, 2019. From left are: Jennifer Walsmith, sector vice president and general manager, Cyber and Intelligence Mission Solutions Division, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems; Tonya Ugoretz, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Readiness, Outreach and Intelligence Branch; Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, commander of Army Cyber Command; Clair Koroma, a “bureaucracy hacker” at the Defense Digital Service; Wilson; and moderator Will Ash, senior director, U.S. Public Sector Cybersecurity, Cisco System.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 190904-D-UB488-005C

Tonya Ugoretz, deputy assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Readiness, Outreach and Intelligence Branch, said the FBI is also collaborating with government agencies, including DOD, and with private sector companies and infrastructure to prevent malicious criminal activities.

The FBI, industry, academia and other government agencies also participate in the National Cyber-Forensics Training Alliance, a nonprofit organization established for information sharing about criminal activity, she said, noting that, as a result of that collaboration, a malicious bot recently was taken down and arrests were made.