Defense Secretary: U.S. Is at Risk of Crippling Online Attacks


When it comes to cybersecurity, the U.S. is now in a “pre-9/11 moment,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.

In his first ever speech on cyberpolicy, given to the Business Executives for National Security Group at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, Panetta said the U.S. military can now trace the origins of cyberattacks on computer networks and launch pre-emptive responses when assaults are detected.

However, the country risks a devastating attack against public utilities, trains or chemical factories, which the Pentagon is actively working to thwart. To do so, the department of defense is prepping rules for response, should cyberweapons threaten the country.

“Potential aggressors should be aware that the United States has the capacity to locate them and to hold them accountable for actions that may try to harm America,” said Panetta, according to Stars and Stripes. “For these kinds of scenarios, the department has developed the capability to conduct effective operations to counter threats to our national interests in cyberspace.”

Stars and Stripes says China and Russia, followed by North Korea, Iran and terrorists, are considered the greatest threats to American cybersecurity. Until now, most intrusions have been harassment, theft and spying rather than actual destruction.

To prevent a cyberattack, Panetta says all facets of society need to cooperate together, pointing to Congress who have not done enough to pass legislation.

“The private sector, government, military, our allies all share the same global infrastructure, and we all share the responsibility to protect it,” he said. “There is no substitute for comprehensive legislation, [but] we need to move as far as we can in the meantime.”

One question Panetta did not address was whether a cyberattack would be responded to with a traditional military or a reciprocal cyber assault. How do you think the U.S. should respond to cyberattacks: with conventional arms or digital tools?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adventtr

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Veterans Speak Out About Questions They’re Tired Of Hearing (Photos)



In a country with a growing gap between civilians and the military, it can be difficult to connect with those who have served.

With that in mind, veteran-support organization Got Your 6 and HuffPost Impact teamed up to ask former soldiers, sailors and service members the single question they hope never to be asked again.

While the questions are often well-intentioned, they sound insensitive. Asking a complete stranger about their “kills” or making assumptions based on gender roles doesn’t promote a better understanding of life for veterans.

Take today, Veteran’s Day, to thank those who served for all they’ve given up for you, no questions asked.

What’s the one question you wish people would stop asking you?

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Navy Mom Dresses As A Ninja Turtle, Surprises Her Son On His Birthday

Tiffany Monroe wasn’t expected home until Thanksgiving, but when the mother of four got the great news she would return stateside just in time for her youngest son’s birthday, she decided to make SJ’s party one of his most memorable ever.

Donning the costume of his favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character, Leonardo, Monroe strolled into the bowling alley where the party was taking place and sang happy birthday to SJ in disguise. When she revealed the truth behind the Ninja Turtle mask, she got incredibly emotional reactions from her kids — grab the tissues for this one.

I could watch his reaction over and over again. That little guy was so happy to see his mom!

Speaking of which, I think I need to go call mine now after seeing that.

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U.S. and Australian Troops Used Chat Rooms to Conduct Joint Exercise


Navy and Marine Corps units participating in the recent joint Talisman Saber exercise in Australia relied on Internet chat rooms and portable satellite radios for operational command and control.

The USS Blue Ridge, command ship of the 7th Fleet, controlled the exercise while the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship, launched helicopters and tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys off its flight deck and amphibious vehicles from its well deck. The operation, which ran from July 15 through Aug. 5, included 18,000 U.S. and 9,000 Australian military personnel.

The ships, along with the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, operated off the northeast coast of Australia with Marines conducting operations ashore in partnership with Australian Army units near Townsville.

The Blue Ridge packs six powerful satellite communications systems connected to seven onboard networks, which in normal operations feed information to 600 unclassified, 450 secret and 50 top secret terminals. The satellite systems provide a combined uplink throughput of 20 megabytes per second and 116 megabytes per second downlinks.

During Talisman Saber, the ship took on another 300 personnel, including 92 Australians. Capt. Susan Bruce Joyner, 7th Fleet assistant chief of staff for communications, said in a telephone interview from the Blue Ridge that she beefed up the network with 22 unclassifed, 37 secret and seven top secret workstations along with 50 thin clients running the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System, known as CENTRIX, for use by Australian personnel.

Plain vanilla Internet chat stands out as the “favorite tool” for communications on the Blue Ridge and among ships and forces under its control, Joyner said, noting “it’s quick and easy” with battle watch standers communicating through chat rooms dedicated to their area of interest.

The Blue Ridge also features five secret and two top secret video teleconferencing (VTC) suites. Joyner said Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift, 7th Fleet commander, used VTC on a twice daily basis to discuss face-to-face the battle rhythm of the exercise with his subordinate commanders and Australian counterparts.

Joyner said that the Blue Ridge also used a technology for secure voice communications just approved for use aboard ships, Voice Over Secret Internet Protocol, developed by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Australian Brig. Gen. David Coghlan said “We’ve brought together members of the army, navy and air force from around Australia and in some cases from places from around the world to join the Blue Ridge.”

Coghlan, the exercise deputy commander, said, “The intricacies of coming aboard a U.S. Navy command and control ship have been challenging, but really useful and worthwhile.” He added, “The level of integration with the U.S. is unprecedented and we appreciate it.”

On the Bonhomme Richard, Maj. Todd O’Brien, communications officer for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, said the 2,000 Marines participating in the exercise primarily relied on satellite voice communications provided by Harris Corp.’s AN-PRC 117F backpack radios, which weigh just under 10 pounds. Maj. Todd O’Brien, the unit’s communications officer, said in a phone interview from the ship that the Marines deployed roughly 60 of these backpack radios during the exercise, which used the Navy UHF satellite fleet for communications with Marine and Australian units.

O’Brien said the exercise proved a real test of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s communications capabilities as it involved amphibious landings and then a push far inland “with multiple scenarios going on at once.”

The main infantry unit in the exercise, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines relied on VHF-FM Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System for communications between its headquarters and individual companies, O’Brien said.

During the exercise, the Marines also used HF terrestrial radios, but O’Brien said today’s Marines are rusty on the skills needed to use such gear compared to their predecessors.

The Marines started stationing troops in Darwin, Australia, in April 2012 as part of a renewed Defense Department focus on the Asia-Pacific region. O’Brien said the Talisman Saber exercise “strengthened our ties with the Australian forces.”

Image: Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr

This article originally published at Nextgov

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Marine Asks Betty White To Ball

Marine Sgt. Ray Lewis follows the lead of his fellow marines and decides to ask a celebrity out to the Marine Corp Dance. But he’s not interested in the young and beautiful. No, he wants Betty White. Let’s just hope this doesn’t become a full fad.  


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I Wish I Could See The Look On The Taliban's Faces When Malala Revealed What Scares Her

This is what it sounds like to be the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner.

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First The Military Helped Invent Video Games. Then Video Games Pushed The Military To New Places.

When military drone operators start telling news outlets that their job is just like playing video games, we should take notice.

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