Senate kills info warfare funds in DOD spending bill

“The funding is critical to
DOD’s information assurance,” Wells said.





The Senate’s Defense Department oversight committees have thrown DOD’s
Information Assurance Program into budget limbo by slashing proposed fiscal 1999 funds
that the department requested to protect its systems from cyberattack.


The House last month approved the full $69.9 million request as part of the fiscal 1999
Defense appropriations bill. But the Senate Appropriations and Armed Services committees
axed the funding from both the Defense authorization and appropriations bills. The Senate
expects to vote on the fiscal 1999 Defense appropriations bill within a few weeks.


“We didn’t do it, the Senate did,” said Kevin Roper, staff director of
the House Appropriations Subcommittee on National Security. “The Senate authorization
and the Defense appropriations committees took that money in its entirety, but we did
not.”


Roper said that his subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young
(R-Fla.), called the money hacker protection and something the House should not mess with.


DOD requested the $69.9 million as seed money to kick-start its critical infrastructure
protection program.


“The department sends up appeals to the committees on each issue that we have
concerns about when they start to go to conference,” DOD spokeswoman Susan Hansen
said. “Since the Senate has not yet acted on the appropriations legislation, the
appeals have not been sent up to the Hill.”


DOD in January established the Information Assurance Program to give Defense users a
common management framework for protecting the department’s global systems.


“The funding is critical to DOD’s information assurance and must be
restored,” said Linton Wells, principal deputy for the assistant secretary of Defense
for command, control, communications and intelligence.


Wells spoke last month at a joint hearing of the House National Security subcommittees
on Military Procurement and Military R&D.


The General Accounting Office last month released an interim report, DOD’s
Information Assurance Efforts, that raised questions about the department’s ability
to defend its networks.


“Despite the many efforts by the various organizations, DOD’s information
assurance needs are not being met in certain key areas,” GAO said, referring to a
November 1997 report from the ASD(C3I) that concluded decentralized management could not
deal with cyberthreats.


Defense officials said the cuts come as DOD faces increased cyberthreats from both
foreign and domestic enemies.


CIA Director George Tenet spoke publicly about information warfare for the first time
last month when he told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that the CIA had
confirmed that several countries had information warfare programs.


“Just like the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international
terrorism and drug trafficking, information warfare has the potential to deal a crippling
blow to our national security if we do not take strong measures to counter it,” Tenet
said.


“Foreign nations have begun to include information warfare in their military
doctrine as well as their war college curricula, with respect to both offensive and
defensive applications,” he said.


Tenet would not name the countries. But Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), the
committee’s chairman, said China, Russia, Libya, Iran, Iraq and at least seven other
countries are developing information warfare programs.


Air Force Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minihan, director of the National Security Agency, warned of
a crippling electronic raid on systems that run the nation’s infrastructure.


“We cannot wait for an electronic Pearl Harbor or Oklahoma City to recognize there
is a problem,” Thompson said.


Tenet cited a DOD study that said DOD systems had been attacked 250,000 times in 1995.
Minihan said the Joint Chiefs of Staff in June 1997 sponsored a cyberwarfare game
code-named Eligible Receiver in which NSA hackers broke into military and civilian
computers using software from the Internet.

inside gcn

  • digital model of city (Shutterstock.com)

    Why you need a digital twin

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above