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2014: A Cybersecurity Call to Arms

By Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso USAF (Ret.) •  January 27, 2014

Innovation birthed this great nation, and is key to the future of our national security and economic interests.

It is not hard to predict, but 2014 will be yet another year of increased malicious cyber activity.   Today, the internet is protected by a multifaceted defense-in-depth system that perpetually works against invasions by cyber foes.  Despite basic improvements over the years, our cyber defensive framework is relatively the same. Largely innate and stagnant, the system waits for the cyber foe to launch attacks against it. With the increasing complexity of the internet and the ever changing threat, the service life of current cyber protection capabilities dwindles daily.

The future of cybersecurity systems will rely on a proactive capability that can sense, learn, protect, adapt, and heal itself against cyber vulnerabilities.  Similar to the human body protecting itself against infectious microbes and the learning genius of the human mind, a futuristic cyber-immune system will create a gestalt of capabilities.  It will be able to:

  • Sense and guard against known and unknown threats;
  • Identify, assess, and learn from threat signatures, vulnerabilities and damaged data;
  • Quarantine, heal, reconstitute or destroy impaired data; and
  • Develop immune capabilities against future attacks.

Being able to perceive, learn, reason, communicate, and act on a threat within the cyber domain is no small task.  Innovation in artificial intelligence, data CybersecurityInnovation_midmining, machine learning, and computational intelligence have come a long way since science fiction aficionados were introduced to HAL 9000, the first artificially intelligent Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. These advancements notwithstanding, the cybersecurity quest continues to move at a snail’s pace.

As a nation, especially during this time of fiscal uncertainty, we should start the New Year by insisting on a cybersecurity innovation call to arms.  Innovation birthed this great nation and is key to the future of our national security and economic interests.  A conversation should begin with a dialog on:

  • Reinvigorating cybersecurity as a national security priority;
  • Stimulating public earnestness to the cyber threat;
  • Strengthening cybersecurity standards;
  • Revitalizing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) education at all levels;
  • Eventuating public policies and incentives to affect change and promote public, government, private, and industry engagement, information sharing, and collaboration;
  • Protecting  resources and investments within the cybersecurity domain;
  • Institutionalizing research and development programs for cybersecurity innovation and incubator programs; and
  • Instilling acquisition flexibility and agility to respond to cybersecurity requirements.

Innovation must be woven into the very fabric and culture of our nation.  We should take note of the timeless wisdom of the past and follow the words of the ancient proverb, “There is no time like the present.”

Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso USAF (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso (Ret.) is the vice president of strategic programs at Telos Corporation. See full bio...

The Empower and Protect Blog brings you cybersecurity and information technology insights from top industry experts at Telos.

One Comment

  • Darrel Lowery says:

    Paul, could not agree more on the recommendation to improve acquisition (and procurement) policies and processes for security solution flexibility, especially for information sharing across government and private sector. You might find some of the recommendations within a report I helped support last summer for IJIS – http://ijis.org/docs/procurement_report.pdf interesting.

    In addition, on policy development for information sharing, the United States is way behind in implementing a balance approach for ‘need-to-know’ and need-to-share’. I believe that pushing this agenda forward is necessary to promote citizen-centric value and help mend to lost trust with DoJ and NSA.

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