Cyberspace links traditional military domains

Tuesday - 11/1/2011, 11:00am EDT

Col. Steve Zotti, chief of staff, Marine Forces Cyber Command

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By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

The Defense Department has declared cyberspace to be a fifth domain — alongside the more traditional sectors of land, sea, air and space.

While the Pentagon has recognized cybersecurity in the same vein as those more traditional areas, the approach taken by the military in cyberspace will be anything but traditional.

Col. Steve Zotti, the chief of staff for Marine Forces Cyber Command, told the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris that cyberspace links together nearly all the other domains.

"With the advent of information technologies and computers and virtual communications, now you have something that bridges all those spaces ... Both from the physical space and then the virtual, intellectual, cognitive space," Zotti said.

While there's a "unique blending" with the other domains, Zotti said, the mission for DoD is to also capture the cyber realm's distinctions in terms of training, organizing and equipping.

Zotti said there are two facets to the cyber threat faced by the military and the government.

"The top threat for us — those of us in uniform, in the government and places that are critical to us in the commercial realm — is the insider threat," he said, which he defined as "the folks who through malicious intent or ignorance do things that make the system more vulnerable."

The problem, which spans everything from careless use of flash drives to deliberate leaking a la WikiLeaks, has been on DoD's "front-burner" since about 2008, he added.

The outside threat comes in the form of rapidly proliferating technologies, Zotti said.

"It doesn't take huge industrial-base support to leverage threats and weapons in cyberspace," he explained."The threats that come to us can come from very many places," and might not fit the standard nation-state form, he added.

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