by Suzanne Kelly
General Keith Alexander, who serves as both Director of the National Security Agency as well as Commander of Cyber Command had some interesting things to say before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. One of which offered insight into how the rules of engagement might look in the high-tech, but legislatively murky, cyber battlespace:
"If you are to go after a computer in foreign space or some other thing, that might be a response option that would now take, I think, the president and the secretary to step in and start making decisions, versus us taking that on." – General Keith Alexander
Because of advances in technology and the growing sophistication of cyberattacks believed to be launched by both state and non-state actors, the administration along with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security are working out just how to better position the resources of the NSA to help protect private businesses against attack. Some of those businesses maintain and operate critical infrastructure like nuclear facilities and water treatment facilities that experts argue need a more robust cyber defense strategy.
Hammering out just how to prevent and respond to attacks as a strategy is still very much a work in progress, but adding presidential authority to the mix makes it slightly more clear how the U.S. might clear a path to respond to a cyberattack.