I received a call yesterday about cyber militias, associated with the US government. The person who called had served with me on one of those exploratory efforts regarding cyber militias previously and it was almost humorous to hear my words come out of his mouth. Apparently my fear of the perception by the media struck a loud tone, not easily ignored.
Recently, on a LinkedIn forum, I referred to the Swiss model for a cyber militia. As many of you are aware the Swiss have a ‘home guard’, where all citizens are trained, armed and sent home packing their own individual weapon. Each has the responsibility to secure their weapon, practice periodically and are subject to recall to defend their country. Basically they go home, stay in shape and wait. The Swiss trust their people and according to propaganda from the US gun lobby, the crime rate in Switzerland is extremely low. Now the Swiss are standing up a cyber command and they say their cyber warriors will be armed in a similar fashion.
Why wouldn’t this work in the US and other countries?
First, we don’t trust our people as much as the Swiss. That is the nature of our culture, especially in the US. We are more paranoid, cynical and negative. We tend to micromanage; unless we can physically check to see someone’s weapon is in a safe or in a holster, we tend to disbelieve they have adequate security on a weapon.
Second, our military culture works in a hierarchical fashion. The idea of sending someone home with a weapon supplied by the government just reeks of a lack of control. It is centralized planning and decentralized execution, which we teach in special forces training but the vast majority of people are weaned on conventional military tactics – keep your weapon in an armsroom, complete with guards, alarms and checklists. God forgive us if we carry a weapon like a police officer, at all times.
Third, playing towards our feelings of paranoia, we believe if someone takes a weapon home they will experiment with it, play with it and probably do something illegal. At least that is what the media will probably say. The media tends to have a liberal bias in the US, basically anti-gun, so the idea will be politically unpalatable (distasteful). Given the opportunity the media will most likely blame hacking incidents on a cyber militia member.
So what’s a guy or gal gotta do to get past these obstacles? First, we need a leader who has the backbone to declare “We need to do this, we trust our people, we trust their training and it’s good for our nation”. State this up front, put on a media blitz, don’t hide, advertise the truth. Advertise to other nations that what you seek to attack is no longer centralized but widely distributed. We, the US, can’t be easily beaten down. If any of us are not wiped out in the initial cyber attacks, we can continue to attack and defend. It will be almost impossible to launch a deadly cyber attack against the US and cause significant damage.
I think we can do it. Count me in as one of the first volunteers.
- AUDIO: Are we all at risk of cyber-attack? (bbc.co.uk)
- London 2012 authorities got cyber-attack warning on eve of Games (guardian.co.uk)
- Cyber Command chief flunks US in readiness to deal with cyber attacks (security.blogs.cnn.com)
- Iran threatens to counter cyber warfare with legal action (conservativeread.com)
- Former FBI agent urges hackers to help US fend off cyber-threats (slashgear.com)
- Marching off to cyberwar (ca.news.yahoo.com)
- Cybercom Chief: U.S. Unprepared for Serious Cyber Attacks (defense.gov)
- Fighting the next cyber war (makaseh.wordpress.com)