Is DoD fighting an asymetric cyber war?

Thursday - 8/5/2010, 4:30pm EDT

Paul Strassmann, distinguished professor, George Mason University

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Why is the Defense Department spending billions of dollars every year on IT to secure networks against incoming malware, but next to nothing to protect against the release of data?

Paul Strassmann is a distinguished professor at George Mason University and says allowing DoD workers to get on Facebook, Twitter and other Web 2.0 websites is causing a great imbalance between inbound and outbound traffic -- and is creating asymmetry, which could be really dangerous.

"The term 'asymetric' comes from information warfare and guerilla warfare. You have a major force, a big army with tanks, airplanes and what have you, and then you have a bunch of guerillas behind bushes. . . . [Facebook and Twitter] and all of those services -- all of those media -- are giant leaks."

The hazards posed to DoD as the result of Web 2.0 technologies does not mean they should not be used by Defense officials, though. Strassmann says there should be policies in place that ensure certain precautions and measures are taken.

He is currently working with an agency in DoD to write that agency's Web 2.0 policy.

"Specifically, there are provisions available in the policy which require that outgoing traffic be recorded and kept for forensic purposes. I'm recommending that -- sure, you should allow people to go out, but you should put safeguards so that, in the event you have exfiltration of information, you can prosecute the people."

Of the two risks -- incoming and outgoing -- Strassman stresses the need for balance because of the way attackers think.

"From the standpoint of an attacker, the ability to extricate intelligence through data mining through outbound traffic is more rewarding than what they can get by trying to pierce through increasingly onerus defenses and protection devices like virus protection and firewalls."

Read more about this at Strassman's blog.

Email the author of this post at dramienski@federalnewsradio.com

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