The Cyber Wild West

The US must figure out how to fight in the cyber domain, even if it is just a defensive fight, but it also needs regulation, said Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle Howard. “It is the wild west out there, it is Tombstone, and I don’t think we have a Wyatt Earp right now,” Howard said Sept. 25 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. “When I grew up, I thought I was going to have a conventional fight with the Soviets [and] it was going to be in the deep blue sea … It was a world with a single enemy,” Howard said. But cyber is an “urban fight domain,” incorporating civilians, business people, criminals, and vigilantes, she said. And everyone, military and civilian, who plugs into the network has a role in cybersecurity. “We all could be exploited … We’re all in it, and we’re all warfighters,” she added. In terms of deterrence, the US still needs to find or demonstrate its “hammer,” or threat. In the non-cyber world, that threat is nuclear weapons, or the counterstrike, she said. “No one has defined to me yet what is this critical power” in cyber.