Pentagon must get better on cyber warfare, says official

The Pentagon does not yet move fast enough to deal with the speed at which cyber warfare moves, the department’s chief information officer said Thursday.

“I think the big difference in cyber that we’re having the react to is it moves faster than any other warfare,” chief information officer Terry Halvorsen said. “That’s a challenge. The things we do today in cyber probably won’t be the same things we do tomorrow.

“It’s accelerated change, and we’re generally not good at accelerated change,” he added.

Speaking to reporters at a roundtable hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, Halvorsen outlined ways his office is trying to fix that, doing everything from teaching employees basic security measures to partnering with the technology industry.

Some of the basics include identifying phishing websites, instituting two-step authentication and making sure servers are behind a firewall or other boundary.

Halvorsen created a “scorecard” to measure how well people do with these areas so the Pentagon can quantify cyber readiness in the same way it does other areas.

“Everybody gets to be measured,” he said. “We’re used to measuring readiness in areas; we frankly weren’t doing that in cyber. I don’t think that will surprise anybody. Cyber is a relatively new warfare.”

The commercial sector, Halvorsen said, is more innovative than the Pentagon on cyber. So he’s started a program where civilian Pentagon employees spend six months out at a technology company. He’s visited Silicon Valley and plans on visiting East Coast companies, as well.

He’s also bringing tech employees into the Pentagon, such as a specialist in computer server routing technology from Cisco Systems, Inc.

“We do not own the marketplace,” Halvorsen said of the need to turn to outward. “We’re a big influencer, but we don’t own it. If you’re buying a submarine, we kind of own the marketplace. If you buy an aircraft carrier, we kind of own the marketplace. If you’re buying software, technology, we don’t own it.”