Defending the cyber homeland requires a comprehensive picture of both commercial and government networks, according to Rear Adm. Hank Bond, director of cyberspace operations at U.S. Northern Command. ()
The Joint Information Environment aims to streamline Defense Department technology and networks, aligning the services under a centralized strategy for the future of Pentagon IT. But what will the initiative do for military operations in cyberspace?
If it’s done right, JIE could provide increased situational awareness for cyber operations, helping to inform decision-making as warfare takes on the cyber domain, according to one DoD official. But for that to happen, the policies, governance and network architecture will need to play an essential role.
“I think there’s a lot of challenges going forward with respect to how that architecture is developed and governed into being effective and efficient,” Rear Adm. Hank Bond, director of cyberspace operations at U.S. Northern Command, said May 13 at the Defense Information Systems Agency JIE conference in Baltimore. “I need to understand from a homeland perspective what’s going on in the contested battlespace. [I need to operate] from a defensible architecture like the JIE can be if we can execute this and get all the services to adopt, and if we can govern ourselves into a place of goodness from that perspective ... I think we can develop a sense of cyberspace beyond our foxhole, beyond the borders of our operating space.”
Increasingly, that operating space is not within the military and government networks over which government entities have traditional authority – it’s within the commercial networks where most of the malicious activity is being carried out. That creates a need for cyber teams to maintain close contact with the legal side of organizations, and with the agencies and groups that can help carry out commercial network measures.
“Part of that is getting law enforcement guys on your team. It’s connecting ourselves properly with the National Guard Bureau,” Bond said. “I think our way forward in proper homeland defense in cyber is properly developing force structure around the National Guard, because they have the organic authorities to operate. Commercial space is the contested space in the homeland and in defense we don’t have that direct connection” with industry.
Adequately defending the homeland hinges on a comprehensive picture that involves both commercial and government networks, as well as all the physical domains and the cyber domain combined, Bond noted.
“In the cyber domain activities or actions by an adversary in cyberspace will not be decisive in that domain exclusively; it’ll be shaped or supported in one of the physical domains, or maybe it’ll influence operations,” Bond said. “It’s not going to be the main game.”