Cyber Command still struggling to define cyber war

Former CIA director says intell community thinking about it 'but not very clearly'

The Cyber Command is charged with conducting and defending the nation against war in cyberspace, but we don’t really understand what cyber war is, retired Air Force general and former CIA director Michael Hayden said recently.

“We are thinking a lot about it but not very clearly,” he said at the Black Hat Briefings in Las Vegas. “We are a bit sloppy with our language. We throw the phrase 'cyber war' at anything uncomfortable happening on the Web.”


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The problem is that cyberspace has been accepted as a domain of military operations, alongside the four traditional domains of land, sea, air and space in which the military operates. But cyberspace is not analogous to real space. It is not defined by location, boundaries and terrain, and traditional U.S. military doctrine that served the nation well through the Cold War does not translate into this new place.

Hayden placed the responsibility for this on the heads of the nerds, analysts, developers and hackers who attended the security conference. “God made the other four” domains, he told them. “You made the last one. God did a better job.”

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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