Executives advocate a military approach to cybersecurity
August 13th, 2012
01:11 PM ET

Executives advocate a military approach to cybersecurity

By Suzanne Kelly
CNN Intelligence Correspondent

A new study being released by a private Internet security company highlights cyberworld weaknesses when it comes to gathering intelligence on hackers and suggests that businesses take a more military-minded approach to defense.

The cybersecurity company CounterTack polled 100 information security executives at companies with revenues greater than $100 million. Nearly half of the respondents said their organization had been the victim of a targeted cyberattack within the past year.

Some 80% of those polled believe that taking a more military-minded approach to the cyberwar could benefit business, according to CounterTack CEO Neal Creighton, whose firm released the poll Monday. For Creighton, that means incorporating more military-style intelligence gathering into companies' cyberworld defenses.

"We're talking about that great intelligence real-time situational awareness," said Creighton, who added that hackers will get into systems, and when they do, companies need to know in real time not only that the intrusion has occurred, but also what the hacker's intentions are.

"Today's attacks are very targeted, so when they come after you, they probably have something that no one else has seen before, so what we're advocating is once they have penetrated the network, that you have technologies that look at behaviors based on what the attacker is going to do," Creighton said.

CounterTack is one of several companies in the private sector that focus on gathering information on the threat as it is happening as a key strategy for defense, in addition to building effective firewalls.

But the CounterTack survey, though not a scientific one, found that those capabilities are lacking.

Surveyed executives said their most pressing challenges when it comes to combating "advanced persistent threats are "disparate systems that don't talk to each other" (63%) and having trouble gathering relevant attack 'intelligence' in real time (61%).

Cybersecurity experts have often warned that by the time a company realizes it has been hacked, the damage has already been done.

When it comes specifically to the issue of training these new cyberwar soldiers, 44% of executives, according to the CounterTack study, said that their team members didn't have the necessary technical skills to combat the threat.

CounterTack has hired retired Admiral William Fallon, who has experience heading both U.S. Central Command and Pacific Command to help them in their push to get companies to focus on this military-minded approach.

Government is also making the case for better recruitment cyber warriors.

The head of U.S. Cyber Command, Gen. Keith Alexander, made a rare appearance at a hacker's conference in Las Vegas last month encouraging those with advanced cyber skill sets to put them to work for the U.S. government.

The Senate recently failed in its effort to pass basic cybersecurity legislation that would have allowed a closer public-private partnership when it comes to information sharing on cyberworld threats.

In light of that, the White House is mulling its options.

The President's homeland security adviser, John Brennan, suggested last week that the president may issue an executive order that would allow the government to use more of the tools it has on hand to combat the growing threat. Brennan added that such a measure would likely encompass a combination of resources from the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency and the FBI.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Congress • Cybersecurity • FBI • Homeland Security • Intelligence • Spying • White House
soundoff (34 Responses)
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  8. John tutlow tut

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    September 25, 2012 at 5:08 am | Reply
  9. Light Rail Tattler

    A military approach is not required; encryption is required.
    The reason large corpoations are being hacked is because they left their web sights unencrypted and open to SQL injection attacks.
    The NSA, CIA, and FBI are against hard drive encryption; that's because they want surveilance without probable cause or a court order. Problem is what the NSA, CIA and FBI wants and has with Flame and military like Brute Force Attacks, targets of their choosing without probable cause or merit, media foreign governments and criminals have as tools to use against targets of their choosing already.
    The F.C.C. really dropped the ball allowing Microsoft .Net 4.0 framework to be deployed with at least 10 Bluetooth radios, digitally signed that cannot defend against a Brute Force Attack.

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    August 15, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  10. Eugene

    U.S defence budget for 2011 was 739.3 bln dollars which is 4.8% of 15.29 bln GDP of USA for that year. This means that company needs to spend 4.8% of its entire gross revenue. How many of those executives that advocate military approach are willing to/have power to sign-off on that kind of budget for their company's cybersecurity activities?

    August 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Reply
    • Joe dirt

      How many of those executives are willing to be bankrupted, put out of business, and out of a job to not do it?

      They are protecting themselves from obviously, the Chinese. I'll say again. The Chinese are stealing our information. To hell with them, and yes we will do anything to thwart them. Anything.

      August 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Reply
      • Joseph McCarthy

        It's the other way around, Joe. We've been hacking into the Chinese cybersystem long before they started hacking into ours. By the way, thanks for not using that filthy Tea Party lingo this time. It has no place here.

        August 14, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
      • Joe dirt

        F–k China and all the ccp grandmother's that I've f–ked.

        August 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
      • china

        wait. you can still afford to do anything?

        September 10, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  11. west opera

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    August 14, 2012 at 1:42 am | Reply
  12. George Patton

    No wonder this country has gone broke with these right-wing thugs militarizing everything under the sun!!! We somehow need to rid this country of these goons and put it back into the hands of decent people. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be too likely anytime soon! This is another revolting developement!!!

    August 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Reply
    • Joe dirt

      Geoerge Patton, I reckon your name isn't really George. Because your grandma is Chinese. and i f–ked her while wearing an American flag as a cape. She loved every minute of it!

      Yes, I f–ked your chinese grandma. F–k you and your whole ancestors.

      August 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Reply
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Please Joe, will you kindly quit using that filthy Tea Party lingo above? Besides, George is quite right about militarizing cyberspace. At any rate, the English language already has a very extensive vocabulary so you can insult George without the use of that Tea Party garbage. Leave that for the ignorant Tea Partiers, please!

        August 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
      • Joe dirt

        You too.. I f–ked your Chinese grandma and she gushed when I told her I was American. She loves my falun gong ding dong.

        August 14, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  13. Steve

    This is pathetic

    August 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Reply
    • Joe dirt

      What was more pathetic, was when I f–ked your Chinese grandma and she begged for more.

      That was pathetic!

      August 14, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Reply
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Which of these broads inspired you to post the above, Joe? Was it Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman or Christine O'Donnell?

        August 14, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
      • Joe dirt

        I'm not from the tea party, I'm from the falun gong. And I have f–ked chinese CCP grandmothers because they love falun gong ding dong.

        August 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  14. lulz

    my america arent you looking despotic these days?

    August 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
    • Joe dirt

      Yes I also f–ked your chinese grandma. She said "USA is best" when she came.

      August 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Reply
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Maybe we should start calling you Tea Party Joe since you keep using those Tea Party words and Tea Party expression above. Only Tea Partiers talk that way!

        August 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
      • Joe dirt

        I don't know about you but she loved the USA, including the tea party.

        August 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
      • lulz

        with insults like that no wonder your country is ####ed.

        September 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm |

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