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For Immediate Release:
July 24, 2003


Harald Stavenas
Angela Sowa
(202) 225-2539
Jeff Sagnip (Saxton)
(609) 261-5801

Statement of the Honorable Jim Saxton
"Cyber Terrorism:  The New Asymmetric Threat"

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. The Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities meets this morning to assess the new asymmetric threat of cyber terrorism. In particular, we would like to have a better understanding of this threat against the Department of Defense information technology (IT) systems and networks.

Information dominance is a cornerstone of the Department's Force Transformation in the 21st Century. We have witnessed these remarkable technological capabilities-from sensors gathering intelligence to sending that information to shooters in the air or on the ground in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. This incredible transmission of data was accomplished with greater accuracy, in a shorter amount of time with fewer casualties. Armed with these incredible capabilities, our military forces have gone into battle with more situational awareness than any other troops in history. While new technological advances bring information superiority, it also brings new responsibilities and challenges.

Technology evolves rapidly. While programmers and software developers build more advanced systems to run more tasks, criminals become more creative in their methods to break into these systems. Their purpose may be to steal information, wreak havoc, or send out false commands or information. Without a defense-wide information assurance policy and implemented practices, the Defense Department's networks may be vulnerable to anyone who has a computer, the knowledge, and willpower to launch cyber attacks.

Information assurance (IA) is a critical issue for the Department because it operates approximately 3 million computers, 100,000 local area networks (LANs), and 100 long-distance networks. These systems including military service-based, joint defense, and intelligence computers and networks are a part of the Global Information Grid (GIG), part of which is dependent on commercial civilian systems. All of these systems are susceptible to acts of cyber terrorists twenty-four hours a day.

I whole-heartedly agree with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that IT is the enabler behind defense transformation. What we need is the ability to leverage the technology and commercial best practices to ensure the security and integrity of the Departments' networks. This is a major undertaking with extraordinary consequences.

While the subcommittee recognizes the critical efforts and difficulty of implementing the Defense-wide Information Assurance Program (DIAP), concerns have been raised that there is not sufficient oversight and management at the Department to achieve the objectives contained in the program.

The Subcommittee is interested to learn more about the Department's information assurance (IA) policy and the immediate and potential cyber threats against the Department's IT systems and networks. Additionally, the Subcommittee is interested to learn about the procedures or defense mechanisms presently in place at the Department to counter cyber attacks. Finally, the Subcommittee would like to know more about the processes or best commercial practices that private industry has implemented to handle cyber security issues and whether these practices are applicable to the Department. This hearing will attempt to determine what progress the Defense Department has made in its implementation of the DIAP. We are also interested to learn what challenges lie ahead for the Department as it confronts cyber terrorists in cyberspace.


House Armed Services Committee
2120 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

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