I've always been pretty skeptical about so-called "cyber-terrorism" -- the idea that an Al-Qaeda type is going to logic bomb a server, rather send a truck bomb into a building; for a group trying to sew fear, that electronic attack just doesn't seem visceral enough. Cyber-warfare, on the other hand, sounds plenty likely. Every day, American armed forces grow increasingly reliant on their communications networks -- to relay orders, transmit reconnaissance footage, and plan attacks. Which means those networks become juicier targets, all the time. Unfortunately, they're also the U.S. military's "weakest link," according to National Defense magazine.
The U.S. military is comfortable facing enemies on traditional battlefields, but facing them in the virtual world is a new challenge, said Army Brig. Gen. Susan Lawrence, Joint Staff chief information officer and director of command, control, communications and computers. Until the military figures out how to defeat its adversaries in this battle space, were not going to win the global war on terrorism, she said at a military communications conference.Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, director of command, control, communications and computer systems on the Joint Staff, said at the conference that the network is our center of gravity, and our ability to defend it is our Achilles heel.Army Col. Carl Hunt, director of technology for the joint task force for global network operations, said those who attack the Pentagons network are often a half step ahead of us.Weve gone to great lengths to build complementary capabilities in the kinetic battlefield, but not in the virtual battlefield, he told military writers at a briefing. We have a very thin, fragile communications capability basically in the global information grid and the Internet.