By Ben Bain

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National Security Strategy: Digital infrastructure protection a 'national security priority'

Protecting the United States’ digital infrastructure is a national security priority, according to the Obama administration’s new National Security Strategy released today.

That statement came in the “Secure Cyberspace” section of the 52-page strategy document that also reiterates President Barack Obama’s May 2009 assessment that the country's digital infrastructure is a “strategic national asset.”

The overall strategy describes the administration’s thinking on a range of topics from counterterrorism to use of military force and diplomacy to bolstering education and science. It includes several references specifically on securing cyberspace:

“Cybersecurity threats represent one of the most serious national security, public safety and economic challenges we face as a nation. The very technologies that empower us to lead and create also empower those who would disrupt and destroy. They enable our military superiority, but our unclassified government networks are constantly probed by intruders. Our daily lives and public safety depend on power and electric grids, but potential adversaries could use cyber vulnerabilities to disrupt them on a massive scale. The Internet and e-commerce are keys to our economic competitiveness, but cyber criminals have cost companies and consumers hundreds of millions of dollars and valuable intellectual property.

"The threats we face range from individual criminal hackers to organized criminal groups, from terrorist networks to advanced nation states. Defending against these threats to our security, prosperity, and personal privacy requires networks that are secure, trustworthy, and resilient. Our digital infrastructure, therefore, is a strategic national asset, and protecting it—while safeguarding privacy and civil liberties—is a national security priority. We will deter, prevent, detect, defend against, and quickly recover from cyber intrusions and attacks by:

"Investing in People and Technology: To advance that goal, we are working across the government and with the private sector to design more secure technology that gives us the ability to better protect and to improve the resilience of critical government and industry systems and networks. We will continue to invest in the cutting-edge research and development necessary for the innovation and discovery we need to meet these challenges. We have begun a comprehensive national campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy from our boardrooms to our classrooms and to build a digital workforce for the 21st century.

"Strengthening Partnerships: Neither government nor the private sector nor individual citizens can meet this challenge alone—we will expand the ways we work together. We will also strengthen our international partnerships on a range of issues, including the development of norms for acceptable conduct in cyberspace; laws concerning cybercrime; data preservation, protection, and privacy; and approaches for network defense and response to cyberattacks. We will work with all the key players—including all levels of government and the private sector, nationally and internationally—to investigate cyber intrusion and to ensure an organized and unified response to future cyber incidents. Just as we do for natural disasters, we have to have plans and resources in place beforehand.”

Posted by Ben Bain on May 27, 2010 at 10:03 AM

Reader Comments

Fri, May 28, 2010 DHS Alumnus Washington, DC

Unless changes are made very soon in the DHS office responsible for protecting our critical national infrastructure, the President will have little chance of protecting the power grid and other exposed infrastructure from cyber attack. The previous administration's political appointee in that office had zero competence with cyber technology, so he narrowly restricted attention to fences, flower pot barriers and similar Maginot-line "protection" approaches. Staff members who tried to address cyber threats were treated as personally "disloyal" and either coerced into silence or illegally forced from government service. People who were favored and promoted by that technically-incompetent regime are quite comfortable giving only lip service to critical infrastructure cyber threats.

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