US needs to focus on superior technology: Pentagon

A top US defence official says America must confront cyber defence challenge.

Last Updated: Aug 26, 2010, 12:40 PM IST

Washington: With India and China poised to take over the US in the field of training more highly proficient computer scientist, a top US defence official has said that America must confront the cyber defence challenge with a focus on superior technology and productivity.

"Even as the US government strengthens its cadre of cyber security professionals, it must recognise that long-term trends in human capital do not bode well.”

"The US has only 4.5 percent of the world`s population, and over the next 20 years, many countries, including China and India, will train more highly proficient computer scientists than will the US," Deputy Secretary of Defence, William J Lynn, wrote in the latest issue of the Foreign Affairs.

"The United States will lose its advantage in cyberspace if that advantage is predicated on simply amassing trained cyber security professionals.”

The US government, therefore, must confront the cyber defence challenge as it confronts other military challenges: with a focus not on numbers but on superior technology and productivity," he wrote.

"High-speed sensors, advanced analytics, and automated systems will be needed to buttress the trained cyber security professionals in the US military.”

“And such tools will be available only if the US commercial information technology sector remains the world`s leader -- something that will require continuing investments in science, technology, and education at all levels," Lynn said.

The Obama administration has established a cyber command, which is all set to be fully operational in October.

The Pentagon, he said, has increased the number of its trained cyber security professionals and deepened their training.

This includes a formal certification programme that is graduating three times as many cyber security professionals annually as a few years ago.

Following industry practices, the Pentagon`s network administrators are now trained in "ethical hacking”, which involves employing adversarial techniques against the US` own systems in order to identify weaknesses before they are exploited by an enemy, he said.

"The US government has only just begun to broach the larger question of whether it is necessary and appropriate to use national resources, such as the defences that now guard military networks, to protect civilian infrastructure," Lynn said.

"Policymakers need to consider, among other things, applying the National Security Agency`s defence capabilities beyond the "gov" domain, such as to domains that undergird the commercial defence industry," he said.

"The Pentagon is therefore working with the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector to look for innovative ways to use the military`s cyber defence capabilities to protect the defence industry," Lynn said.

PTI