DIB active defense cybersecurity pilot near start

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The Defense Department is close to starting a 90-day pilot with the defense industrial base that will test an active defense capability analogous to the Homeland Security Department's Einstein 3 effort, said a top Defense Department official during a House panel March 16.

While testifying before the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities, James Miller, the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said the Pentagon has already approached defense contractors and Internet service providers about participation the pilot. In all, 30 firms will likely participate in the pilot, said Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, who also testified at the hearing.

"By way of analogue, it's looking to, for a part of the .com, to bring what Einstein 3 is supposed to bring the .gov," Miller said.

The DoD has already started a pilot testing greater information sharing with the private sector, Miller said. "It's been a two-way street, it's been very effective, and we're looking to continue and grow that," he added.

The active defense capability pilot could grow in the future were the Defense Department to get additional legislative authority, something that the White House could propose, Alexander and Miller said.

The proposed legislation will address "what set of authorities may be necessary or changes may be necessary for the Department of Defense to assist [DHS] in providing that prevention as opposed to solely focusing on response," Miller said.

The Defense Department has requested $3.2 billion for the next fiscal year on cybersecurity efforts, $159 million of that specifically for Cyber Command, Miller said. The largest single item in the DoD cybersecurity request--slightly more than $2 billion--is for a public key infrastructure initiative, he added.

The DoD is also turning to what Alexander described as "a thin cloud, virtual cloud environment," for cybersecurity reasons, Alexander said. A cloud environment might not necessary be more efficient in terms of personnel or money required, Alexander said, but "it does give us a much more defensive way."

Alexander also acknowledged that offensive cyber capabilities done outside of an overseas area of hostility requires resolution of still unresolved problems created by cyberspace's unique properties. For example, it's easy for a hostile party to launch an attack from a neutral third country. Attackers could even attack the United States using U.S. infrastructure.

Miller said the Pentagon is studying what current law permits the military to do under such circumstances and whether Guard or Reserve units might be able to act more easily.

For more:
- go to the hearing webpage (prepared testimonies and webcast available)

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