The US military needs the help of the IT security industry to secure the national critical infrastructure, according to the head of US Cyber Command.
General Keith Alexander, who is also the director of the National Security Agency, explained that traditional security models are not sufficient, and that US Cyber Command is reconfiguring its networks to be active rather than reactive to beat new online threats.
"You can't have a static defence if the adversary is running all over you," he said in his keynote presentation at the 2011 RSA Conference.
"We cannot build a static defence and say: 'I'm done.' Systems are not secure if we just put a patch on. You have to make defence dynamic and tailor specific security plans for each network."
This would mean much greater co-operation within the IT industry. Alexander admitted that the US is still trying to build computer response units but has a long job ahead. The security industry will be needed to support these efforts.
US Cyber Command manages 15,000 computer networks, scanning 90TB of data a day and passing 150 billion data packets. This knowledge of attacks and profiles will be shared with the industry, he said.
"Securing our nation's network is a team sport. We need your help. We all have to work together to make it happen," he said.
In the longer term the US will have to invest in education in schools to improve mathematics, science, technology and engineering teaching. There is a window of opportunity to get this done, Alexander said, but it is closing rapidly.
Finally, Alexander claimed that people concerned about trade-offs between privacy and security need not be concerned.
"With the talent we have here, how do we ensure the protection of our networks and protection of civil liberties? We can and must do both," he said.
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