Defense, Intel Leaders: Cybersecurity Priorities are Defense, Deterrence

September 29, 2015

Cheryl Pellerin

Defense and deterrence are two of the highest priorities for bolstering the nation’s cybersecurity capabilities, top officials from the Defense Department and the intelligence community told a Senate panel here today.

Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work testified on cybersecurity policy and threats before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Joining him were Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper and Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency.

In his remarks to the panel, Clapper said that for the third year in a row, cyberthreats headed the list of threats reported in the annual National Intelligence Worldwide Threat Assessment.

“Although we must be prepared for a large Armageddon-scale strike that would debilitate the entire U.S. infrastructure, that is not … the most likely scenario,” Clapper added.

Integrating Intelligence

The primary concern is low- to moderate-level cyberattacks from a growing range of sources that will continue and probably expand, he said, adding that in the future he expects to see more cyber operations that manipulate electronic information to compromise its integrity, as opposed to deleting or disrupting access to it.

Clapper said President Barack Obama has directed him to form a small center that will integrate cyberthreat intelligence from across federal agencies, as do centers established over the years for counterterrorism, counterproliferation and counterintelligence.

In his remarks to the panel, Work said recent cyber intrusions involving the Office of Personnel Management, the Joint Staff and Sony by three separate state actors are “not just espionage of convenience, but a threat to our national security.”

Earlier this year, the department released a new strategy to guide the development of its cyber forces and strengthen its cybersecurity and cyber deterrence postures. The previous cyber strategy was released in 2011.

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