Cyber Command now fully operational

Extent of its boundaries still somewhat unclear

After a lengthy and sometimes contentious development phase, U.S. Cyber Command is now fully operational. The command, which is charged with defending Defense Department computer networks and conducting operations against cyber threats, also interacts with organizations such as the National Security Agency and the Homeland Security Department.

Although the Cyber Command is now operational from a bureaucratic standpoint, its overall operational boundaries still remain somewhat unclear. Although the command is mandated not to operate in commercial and civilian government networks unless requested to during an emergency, it has established a joint coordination effort with DHS.

The command was built on lessons learned from previous Defense Department experience in fighting cyber threats early in this decade. The head of the command, Army Gen. Keith Alexander, is also director of NSA. Alexander recently proposed the development of a secure network to protect critical civilian and government infrastructure. However critics have noted that the proposed network may be impractical to manage because it would require intensive inter-agency coordination on cyber defense activities, something that is currently very difficult to achieve now.

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