Nominee to head NSA, Cyber Command: ‘Attacks must come with a consequence’

Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the nominee to be the next commander of Cyber Command and director of the NSA, told the Senate Armed Services Committee 1 March in prepared remarks that the U.S. must be prepared to “impose costs” on any power that launches cyberattacks.

The U.S. has bolstered its ability to integrate cyber into traditional military operations but, Nakasone said, so have potential adversaries.

In order to combat and deter future cyber threats, Nakasone told the Senate panel that the U.S. needs to impose costs on adversaries to “ensure mission success by persistent delivery of cyberspace effects in defense of our Nation and in support of our combat forces.”

In testimony before the Senate panel earlier this week outgoing NSA and Cyber Command chief Adm. Mike Rogers said Russian President Vladimir Putin has “come to the conclusion that there’s little price to pay and that therefore, ‘I can continue this activity.'”

Nakasone said currently U.S. adversaries do not fear a response for cyber activity. However, it listed ways to change that calculus:

– a strategy and doctrine for how the U.S. operates, which will also send a message to adversaries;

– establishing norms so adversaries and bad actors can’t fill the international void and lastly; and

– not to think of cyber as only a cyber response. [source]

Analysis: The previous administration was criticized often for failing to take substantive action against those who launched cyberattacks against the U.S. and U.S. companies — including Russia and North Korea. Nakasone has identified that shortcoming; Rogers confirmed it. Will the Trump administration’s strategy change? You have to think that is likely given that Nakasone — an obvious advocate for cyber response — was nominated by the president to head Cyber Command.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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