The Defense Departments warns in a new organizational document that the United States cannot win the global battle over cyber security due the overwhelming complexity of the issue and the rapidly changing landscape in cyberspace, according to the document.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a new organizational guidance issued earlier this month, assessed the United States will never be able to fully achieve dominance in the cyberspace realm, but that officials are working on a series of plans to boost the country’s offensive and defensive capabilities in this realm.
“Permanent global cyberspace superiority is not possible due to the complexity of cyberspace,” the report states. “Even local superiority may be impractical due to the way IT is implemented; the fact U.S. and other national governments do not directly control large, privately owned portions of cyberspace; the broad array of state and non-state actors; the low cost of entry; and the rapid and unpredictable proliferation of technology.”
The assessment provides a realistic grounding for the United States’ limited ability to dominate the cyber realm as private hacker groups and rogue nations seek to exploit critical U.S. government systems and those of private industry.
Military “commanders should be prepared to conduct operations under degraded conditions in cyberspace,” the report warns, emphasizing limitations on the military’s cyber capabilities.
Difficulty in combatting cyber attacks on the United States are attributed to the ability of hacker groups and nations to obfuscate the precise location and nature of attacks, preventing the United States from striking back.
“The ability to hide the sponsor and/or the threat behind a particular malicious effect in cyberspace makes it difficult to determine how, when, and where to respond,” according to the report. “The design of the internet lends itself to anonymity and, combined with applications intended to hide the identity of users, attribution will continue to be a challenge for the foreseeable future.”