cyberdefenseheaderThe United States increasingly relies on the Internet to support our economic, health, and social services. However, the more we utilize network connections, the more cognizant we must be of potential cyberattacks from enemies seeking to access information and to destabilize our country. We’ve seen the results – everything from people’s personal emails to shopping habits can be stolen and laid out for the world to see. But there’s one arena where cybersecurity is perhaps more vital than any other: national defense.

The increasing connections modern networks provide offer unparalleled new opportunities for the Department of Defense to carry out its missions, but it simultaneously makes DoD networks more vulnerable by widening the attack surface for threat actors. Both citizens and nation states are using increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks to infiltrate DoD systems and agencies. For the military, cybersecurity is not only about protecting sensitive intelligence, it’s about protecting troops while they’re on the physical battlefield. And beyond just protecting its own networks, the DoD is charged with helping protect the broader homeland against cyberattacks.

To address the emerging and evolving threat of cyberattacks, the DoD released its second overarching cybersecurity strategy in 2015, designed to help the department develop cyber forces and strengthen its cyber defense and cyber deterrence posture. It focuses on building cyber capabilities and forces to support the DoD’s three primary cyber missions:

  1. Defend DoD networks, systems, and information
  2. Defend the U.S. homeland and U.S. national interests again cyberattacks of significant consequence
  3. Provide cyber support to military operational and contingency plans

To support this effort, DoD plans to create 133 cyber mission force teams by the year 2018. It also plans to build strong bridges to the private sector and research institutions. As Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and NSA Director, said: “The challenges [in cyberspace] are so broad…it is going to take a true partnership between the private sector, the government and academia to address [them].”

Here at Cisco, we’re working hard to provide cybersecurity solutions that align to DoD’s strategy and offer both reactive and proactive defensive cyber capabilities. Products that help address network segmentation, insider threats, and mobility can help defend both DoD networks and the U.S. homeland, as well as better enable warfighters to carry out military operations. Over the coming weeks, we’ll discuss some use cases and specific products that are helping the DoD implement its cyber strategy and strengthen the United States’ cyber defense posture.

Images courtesy of the Department of Defense.



Peter Romness

Cybersecurity Principal, US Public Sector CTO Office