Pentagon Unveils Cybersecurity Strategy To Confront Adversaries
Pentagon Says 'Offense is the New Defense'
The Defense Department’s new approach calls for persistent engagement with adversaries such as China, Russia, terrorist organizations, and transnational criminal groups. The strategy also emphasizes the importance of collaboration with various partners, both within the government and private sector, to enhance the effectiveness of U.S. cyber efforts.
The unclassified version of the Pentagon’s 2023 Cyber Strategy was released this week, following the sharing of the classified version with U.S. lawmakers three months ago.
The strategy aims to reinforce deterrence and frustrate adversaries by deploying cyber forces below the level of armed conflict. This concept, known as “persistent engagement,” has been showcased by U.S. Cyber Command through operations in various countries.
The most recent operation took place in Lithuania, where a U.S. Cyber Command team collaborated with the NATO ally to search for and disrupt threats to the Ministry of the Interior's networks.
Similar deployments have occurred in Albania and Latvia, with a total of 50 such operations in 23 countries since 2018. These missions have not only assisted U.S. allies but have also provided valuable insights for the protection of U.S. networks, including during the 2020 presidential election.
Mieke Eoyang, the Pentagon’s deputy assistant secretary for cyber policy, emphasized the need to disrupt malicious cyber activity targeting the United States. She noted that the constantly evolving nature of the cyber domain necessitates ongoing engagement to deny adversaries advantageous positions.
Eoyang also highlighted the importance of integrating cyber capabilities with other war fighting abilities, drawing lessons from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The conflict in Ukraine has revealed that cyber capabilities alone may have limited utility. Prior to the invasion, there was an expectation that cyber would have a more decisive impact on warfare.
However, the integration of cyber capabilities alongside other war-fighting techniques has proven more effective. The new Pentagon cyber strategy reflects this understanding and aims to leverage cyber capabilities in conjunction with other instruments of national power.
As technology continues to evolve, the Pentagon recognizes the need to adapt its cyber strategy. By persistently engaging adversaries, working with partners, and integrating cyber capabilities with existing military capabilities, the United States aims to minimize threats in the cyber domain.
The lessons learned from recent operations and conflicts, experts believe, will shape future strategies and ensure the effective defense of U.S. networks and interests in cyberspace.