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Gates Wants ‘Better Protections for both .Gov and .Com’

Image: dod.gov, Chris Harvey, Szymon Apanowicz

Speaking at a meeting of The Wall Street Journal CEO Council, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the recent partnership between the Department of Homeland Security, a civilian agency, and the Defense Department’s National Security Agency would lead to better Internet security.

Gates said his hope is that the partnership, which allows for sharing of information, resources and personnel “will lead to better protections for both ‘.gov’ and ‘.com.’”

According to a report on Reuters, he also said the Pentagon has already taken steps to secure its networks with the assistance of some of DoD main industry partners, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman.

U.S. Cyber Command, which is led by national security veteran Gen. Keith B. Alexander, became fully operational just a few weeks ago and is  responsible for protecting DoD networks.

However, Gates acknowledged his vision for increased security of commercial networks won’t be easy.

He noted NSA has taken the lead role in securing the Pentagon’s networks and intercepting foreign communications, tasks that would be difficult to recreate in the civilian realm for a number of reasons.

“You cannot replicate the National Security Agency for domestic affairs,” Gates said. “There isn’t enough money. There isn’t enough time. And there isn’t enough human talent.”

National security and cybersecurity experts have long speculated how private networks, ostensibly outside the purview of the Pentagon could be protected.

At congressional hearings in September, Cybercom head Alexander said he supported a secure zone for defense networks as well as those of critical industries such as financial institutions and defense contractors. But he also acknowledged the uncertain road ahead for a “dot-secure” goal.

In his speech, Gates also said the cyber threat was not likely going anywhere.

With more than 100 foreign intelligence organizations attempting to break in to the Defense Departments’ networks, Gates, also said the threats, both current and future, are “just the reality we face.”

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