Lord: Cyberwarfare means new rules of engagement

The Defense Department needs new rules of engagement by which commanders can quickly determine the appropriate response to cyberattacks against U.S. military and civilian targets, said the incoming commander of the provisional Air Force Cyber Command, Air Force Maj. Gen. William Lord.

In an Oct. 9 interview, Lord said the speed at which cyberattacks typically unfold leaves little time for lengthy discussions about how — and if — the United States should retaliate when attacked. “In cyberwarfare, literally, within minutes you can see networks being crumbled.”

Particularly when cyberattacks target U.S. civilian networks, new processes are needed to quickly determine the nature and extent of the incident, Lord said. “It takes us a while to say, ‘Gee, are we at war? Is this just a mechanical failure? Is this an act of terrorism? Is this just a trial balloon by some brilliant 12-year-old in another nation?' " he said.

Meanwhile, the Air Force is still years away from considering a cyberattack weapon that would wreak the kind of havoc on an adversary’s networks that a nuclear bomb would on populations, Lord said. “I don’t think there is [such a weapon] yet.”

For now, Lord said, he is more concerned with beefing up the Air Force's network defenses for an era in which large-scale and potentially crippling cyberattacks might become commonplace. “While we have to be as good as we can get when we hand out this punch, we need to be able to absorb the punch,” he said.

Lord is slated to take the helm of the provisional Air Force Cyber Command at Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, La., later this month.

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.