Report: Pentagon unprepared for major cyberwar

Ellen Nakashima / The Washington Post /

Published Mar 6, 2013 at 04:00AM

WASHINGTON — A new report for the Pentagon concludes that the nation’s military is unprepared for a full-scale cyberconflict with a top-tier adversary and must ramp up its offensive prowess.

The unclassified version of the study by the Defense Science Board also urges the intelligence community to boost its collection on leading nations’ cybercapabilities and maintain the threat of a nuclear strike as a deterrent to a major cyberattack.

The 138-page report by the panel of civilian and government experts bluntly states that, despite numerous Pentagon actions to parry sophisticated attacks by other countries, the Defense Department “is not prepared to defend against this threat.”

The report lays out a scenario in which cyberattacks in conjunction with conventional warfare damaged the ability of U.S. forces to respond, creating confusion on the battlefield and weakening traditional defenses. In one of the more critical comments, the report notes that Pentagon “red” teams established to test the military’s cyberdefense abilities have “relative ease ... in disrupting, or completely beating, our forces in exercises using software available on the Internet.”

The 33-member task force recommends a strategy combining deterrence, refocused intelligence priorities, and a stronger offense and defense.