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By Noah Shachtman
January 12, 2012
The Defense Department‚Äôs networks, as currently configured, are ‚Äúnot
defensible,‚ÄĚ according to the general in charge of protecting those
networks. And if there‚Äôs a major electronic attack on this country,
there may not be much he and his men can legally do to stop it in
Gen. Keith Alexander, head of both the secretive National Security
Agency and the military‚Äôs new U.S. Cyber Command, has tens of thousands
of hackers, cryptologists, and system administrators serving under him.
But at the moment, their ability to protect the Defense Department‚Äôs
information infrastructure ‚ÄĒ let alone the broader civilian internet ‚ÄĒ
is limited. The Pentagon‚Äôs patchwork quilt of 15,000 different networks
is too haphazard to safeguard.
Take last year‚Äôs infection of drone cockpits at Creech Air Force Base in
Nevada. Air Force network operators only learned about the virus weeks
afterward ‚ÄĒ by reading about it on this website.
‚Äú15,000 enclaves: You can‚Äôt see ‚Äėem all. You cannot defend them all,‚ÄĚ
Alexander told an FBI-sponsored gathering of law enforcement and
cybersecurity professionals at New York‚Äôs Fordham University. ‚ÄúYou‚Äôve
got to have an infrastructure that is defensible.‚ÄĚ
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