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Military is ready to fend off Chinese and Russian hackers, Cyber Command nominee says

Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, United States Army, testifies before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services on his nomination to be General and Director, National Security Agency, on March 1, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Ron Sachs/CNP/TNS)
April 13, 2018

The U.S. is fully prepared to wage war in the cyberspace, according to recently disclosed written testimony from Army Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the Washington Fee Beacon reported.

Nakasone, who is widely expected to be confirmed a commander of Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency (NSA), said last month that the U.S. is capable of shutting down critical infrastructures in China and Russia, and is heavily invested in ensuring the safety and security of the nation’s own infrastructure systems.

During his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Nakasone stressed the importance of defending against U.S. infrastructure attacks and how such attacks would be a “critical vulnerability in the nation’s armor” that pose a significant danger to the country.

“We face a challenging and volatile threat environment, and cyber threats to our national security interests and critical infrastructure rank at the top of the list,” he said.

As part of a deterrence strategy, Nakason revealed that the U.S. military is “actively developing capabilities to threaten the critical infrastructure of peer adversaries.”

“The ability to respond appropriately and effectively is an essential element of any deterrence strategy,” he added.

He also revealed that the military has taken the necessary steps to prepare for any sort of cyberattack. Nakason’s comments were the first time U.S. cyberattack capabilities against foreign infrastructure were discussed in public.

However, the Defense Science Board confirmed in a report that key components like the electric grid will still remain vulnerable to attacks for at least an additional 10 years, the Free Beacon reported.

“A large-scale cyberattack on civilian critical infrastructure could cause chaos by disrupting the flow of electricity, money, communications, fuel and water,” the report stated. “Thus far, we have only seen the virtual tip of the cyberattack iceberg.”

“Russia and China have both been part of the problem to date, and could take this threat to the next level by using cyber in sustained campaigns to undermine U.S. economic growth, financial services and systems, political institutions (e.g., elections) and social cohesion,” the report added.

Nakasone expressed his concerns on possible cyberattacks, and said they tend to challenge public trust and confidence in governments while imposing significant costs on American and international economies.

“Cyber threats also pose an increasing risk to public health, safety and prosperity, as cyber technologies are integrated with critical infrastructure in key sectors,” Nakasone said during his testimony. “Adding to the problem, some adversaries remain unconstrained from conducting reconnaissance, espionage, influence and even attacks in cyberspace.”

“The current level and tempo of cyberattacks is not tolerable,” he added. “Our adversaries see opportunity for strategic advantage through continuous activity in the domain. We must act purposefully to frustrate their intentions, increase their costs, and decrease their likelihood of success.”