Department of Defense networks and the personnel who maintain them are being tested to the very limits of their ability to deflect assault.
Attackers all over the world are utilizing every conceivable method to gain access to our critical systems and introduce malicious code to exploit or destroy our assets.
One of the provisions of the 2011 Defense Authorization Act was that a collaborative Intelligence and Cyber Agency report on cyber attacks be drafted and submitted to Congress for review.
In this 12-page report, the Defense Department presented its position thusly: "When warranted, we will respond to hostile attacks in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country."
The report went on to say, "We reserve the right to use all necessary means - diplomatic, informational, military, and economic - to defend our nation, our allies, our partners, and our interests."
The DoD operates approximately 15,000 networks. These networks are comprised of about seven million computers at bases and outposts around the globe; in submarines and research facilities that patrol and monitor the oceans; in manned and unmanned aircraft that control the skies; in satellites that relay vast quantities of data around the earth in seconds and coordinate our efforts.
According to National Counterintelligence Executive Robert Bryant, "The nations of China and Russia, through their intelligence services and through their corporations, are attacking our research and development."
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency director Regina Dugan has been quoted as saying: "Malicious cyber attacks are not merely an existential threat to our bits and bytes. They are a real threat to our physical systems, including our military systems."
In September 2011, the Host Based Security System detected a "keylogger" virus in Creech AFB's Predator and Reaper Drone cockpit systems. The virus was most likely introduced via removable media such as a USB thumb drive or compact disc. The full extent of the infection is still unknown.
In the end, it falls to you, the network user, to protect the integrity and confidentiality of our network. You are the last line of defense against an invisible army of hackers, terrorist cells, and foreign governments that have dedicated their most devious minds to the penetration of our information systems - the very systems that control our KC-135 Stratotankers; our B-52 Stratofortresses; our RQ-4 Global Hawks, and all the capabilities these aircraft provide to our decision-makers and warfighters.