US Cyber Command chief warns of 'remote sabotage'

The top US cyberwarrior said Thursday that Pentagon networks are probed over six million times a day and expressed concern about a rise in "remote sabotage" attacks on computer systems.

General Keith Alexander, head of the newly created US Cyber Command, also said developing a real-time picture of threats to US military networks and the rules to fight back would be among his priorities.

Alexander, who also heads the National Security Agency, the super secret US surveillance agency, said Pentagon systems are "probed by unauthorized users approximately 250,000 times an hour, over six million times a day."

In his first public remarks since assuming command of Cyber Command two weeks ago, Alexander said the US military "depends on its networks for command and control, communications, intelligence, operations and logistics."

"We at the Department of Defense have more than seven million machines to protect linked-in 15,000 networks," he said in a speech to cybersecurity experts and reporters at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The role of US Cyber Command is to "deter, detect and defend against emerging threats against our nation in cyberspace," Alexander said.

"Our nation's interests are in jeopardy," he said citing "tremendous vulnerabilities" and threats from a "growing array of foreign actors, terrorists, criminal groups and individual hackers."

"Cyberspace has become a critical enabler for all elements of national and military power," Alexander said. "Our data must be protected."

The four-star general said distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks on Estonia and Georgia in 2007 and 2008 were aimed at temporarily shutting down computer networks but new threats have emerged.

"There are hints that some penetrations are targeting systems for remote sabotage," he said. "The potential for sabotage and destruction is now possible and something we must treat very seriously."

Alexander said the military and government needed to increase their ability it see what is happening on computer networks in real-time.

"We have no situational awareness, it's very limited. We do not have a common operating picture for our networks," he said.

"We need real-time situational awareness on our network to see where something bad is happening and take action there at that time," he said. "We must share indications and warning threat data at net speed."

Alexander said more "clear rules of engagement" needed to be established over how to respond to cyberattacks.

"We have to look at it in two different venues - what we're doing in peacetime and in wartime," he said. "Those things that you do in wartime, I think, are going to be different from what you do in peacetime."

A Russian proposal to create a cyberwarfare arms limitation treaty could be "a starting point for international debate" but "at levels above me," he said.

Alexander said effective cybersecurity would involve partnering with the private sector and others.

"All of us in government recognize that we cannot do this without the help of industry, academia and our allies," he said. "Securing cyberspace is a team sport.

"Securing our networks is not just a (military) issue it is a national security issue with implications for all instruments of national power," he said.

Alexander said the NSA, whose warrantless wiretapping program has been ruled illegal by a US judge, takes civil liberties and privacy "very seriously" and is subject to strict oversight by Congress and the courts.

"My responsibility as director of NSA is to ensure that what we do comports with the law," he said. "Every action that we take we have legal reviews of it all the way up or down.

"It doesn't mean we won't make a mistake," he said.

"The hard part is we can't go out and tell everybody exactly what we do because we give up capability that may be extremely useful in protecting our country and our allies," he said.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm that there was a 'minor disturbance'

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    IT Support Analyst - London - £22,000

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chel...

    Software Developer

    £35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

    Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

    Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album