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Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace

Published July 14, 2011

This Department of Defense strategy report on cyberspace was released on July 14, 2011. The introduction states,

"Cyberspace is a defining feature of modern life. Individuals and communities worldwide connect, socialize, and organize themselves in and through cyberspace. From 2000 to 2010, global Internet usage increased from 360 million to over 2 billion people. As Internet usage continues to expand, cyberspace will become increasingly woven into the fabric of everyday life across the globe.

U.S. and international businesses trade goods and services in cyberspace, moving assets across the globe in seconds. In addition to facilitating trade in other sectors, cyberspace is itself a key sector of the global economy. Cyberspace has become an incubator for new forms of entrepreneurship, advances in technology, the spread of free speech, and new social networks that drive our economy and reflect our principles. The security and effective operation of U.S. critical infrastructure – including energy, banking and finance, transportation, communication, and the Defense Industrial Base – rely on cyberspace, industrial control systems, and information technology that may be vulnerable to disruption or exploitation.

Along with the rest of the U.S. government, the Department of Defense (DoD) depends on cyberspace to function. It is difficult to overstate this reliance; DoD operates over 15,000 networks and seven million computing devices across hundreds of installations in dozens of countries around the globe. DoD uses cyberspace to enable its military, intelligence, and business operations, including the movement of personnel and material and the command and control of the full spectrum of military operations.

The Department and the nation have vulnerabilities in cyberspace. Our reliance on cyberspace stands in stark contrast to the inadequacy of our cybersecurity – the security of the technologies that we use each day. Moreover, the continuing growth of networked systems, devices, and platforms means that cyberspace is embedded into an increasing number of capabilities upon which DoD relies to complete its mission. Today, many foreign nations are working to exploit DoD unclassified and classified networks, and some foreign intelligence organizations have already acquired the capacity to disrupt elements of DoD's information infrastructure.

Moreover, non-state actors increasingly threaten to penetrate and disrupt DoD networks and systems. We recognize that there may be malicious activities on DoD networks and systems that we have not yet detected.

DoD, working with its interagency and international partners, seeks to mitigate the risks posed to U.S. and allied cyberspace capabilities, while protecting and respecting the principles of privacy and civil liberties, free expression, and innovation that have made cyberspace an integral part of U.S. prosperity and security. How the Department leverages the opportunities of cyberspace, while managing inherent uncertainties and reducing vulnerabilities, will significantly impact U.S. defensive readiness and national security for years to come."