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The Cyber Defense Review

A Case for Action: Changing the Focus of National Cyber Defense

By Rob Schrier | November 15, 2019

The United States government has made major strides in the past year in improving our nation’s cyber defense with initiatives such as the creation of the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the new DoD Defend Forward policies. However, our nation’s emphasis re­mains focused on improving collaboration and synchronization primarily to improve reac­tion and response to a cyber incidents and attacks. We must change the goal to move our emphasis to the “left of boom,” to create processes and capabilities to prevent, deter and preempt cyber-attacks against our critical infrastructure, as well as interdict and counter those attacks as they are unfolding. We need to regard response as our last resort. We must create a transformative effort to focus speed, agility, unity of purpose, and early warning and to fully incorporate private industry and other partners. Equally important, we cannot revolutionize cyber defense without including an emphasis on defending our democracy, our society and the truth itself from cyber driven influence attacks. I propose the creation of a national level 24/7 cyber defense operational capability with an initial pilot operation focused on defending our democracy in the U.S 2020 elections.

So is our original goal possible? Can we move our cyber defense largely “left of boom”? Can we defend against influence attacks? Can all this be practically achieved? Yes, we can decide to dramatically improve the defense of our critical infrastructure and defend our de­mocracy within our existing laws and policies in a more preemptive and effective manner. We must feel a sense of urgency to accomplish this. This is not a philosophical discussion based on the assumption that the wolves could reach our gates. Because we have ceded our adversaries too much access, the wolves are already inside our gates. Our adversaries have been, are now, and will be conducting increasingly bold and sophisticated attacks against US critical infrastructure and our democracy. We have every reason to expect these cyber and influence attacks will grow more serious. The increasing risks to democracy and, more broadly, to our way of life are too worrisome to ignore.


Read More: A Case for Action: Changing the Focus of National Cyber Defense

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