The Commander of U.S. Cyber Command (Cybercom), General Keith Alexander, said the “biggest portion” of the Cyber Command budget request would go toward hiring a highly technical workforce. “People are the big thing” at Cybercom, Alexander told legislators. “Investing in people is key.”
The next biggest portion of Cybercom’s budget will go toward facilities and IT infrastructure, which “accounts for another 25 percent of the budget, and operations are the last part,” Alexander said.
In order to attract candidates with the necessary skills to work in Cybercom the DoD should provide outreach and pilot programs, said James N. Miller, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, who also testified. One such way is the recent launch of a technical master’s degree either in computer science or a degree in cyber and cybersecurity-related disciplines at the Naval Postgraduate School. “That’s a step in the right direction,” Alexander said.
Alexander outlined Cybercom’s five priorities:
- Treating cyberspace as a domain within DOD.
- Employing active cyber defenses and other new defense approaches.
- Teaming with other federal agencies and the private sector on a national cybersecurity strategy.
- Strengthening relationships with international partners.
- Recruiting a cybersecurity workforce.
Alexander also outlined ways to develop a “defensible IT architecture” that moves data from desktop computers to remote, secure computing sites through cloud computing and thin-client networks.
Last year, the general said the Department of Defense networks were constantly under attack by an average of 250,000 probes every hour. In his recent testimony, he again reiterated the importance of protecting defense networks, including the need to prevent a “cyber 9/11” type of attack on critical infrastructure.
When asked what grade Alexander would give the Defense Department’s ability to defend its networks, on a scale of “A” to “F,” he said he would give the DOD a “C”.