A story from Wired Magazine’s Danger Room blog that is getting a lot of attention. Â It calls into question the claims made this week by Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III about a 2008 cyber attack against the Department of Defense.
The worm, dubbed agent.btz, caused the militaryâ€™s network administrators major headaches. It took the Pentagon nearly 14 months of stop and go effort to clean out the worm â€” a process the military called â€œOperation Buckshot Yankee.â€ The endeavor was so tortuous that it helped lead to a major reorganization of the armed forcesâ€™ information defenses, including the creation of the militaryâ€™s new Cyber Command.
The havoc caused by agent.btz has little to do with the wormâ€™s complexity or maliciousness â€” and everything to do with the militaryâ€™s inability to cope with even a minor threat.
But what spy service would launch such a lame attack?
â€œIt isnâ€™t the most capable threat, I agree with that,â€ Lynn replies. â€œBut that kind of makes the point. If you had something of the kind of capability you described and we suffered a compromise as the result of it, it clearly means that we need to have a new strategic approach and thatâ€™s what started a couple years ago. Iâ€™ve tried to lay out where weâ€™re going going forward.â€
So let’s get this straight. Â DoD found itself vulnerable to a “Level 1: Low Risk” threat, the kind of threat that could have been taken care of by one of Symantec’s antivirus applications, because it was completely ignorant of its own systems. Â And instead of bringing its defense up to date, the response has been to create the U.S. Cyber Command with a mission that includes offensive cyber attack against adversaries, as well as calls from prominent individuals in the defense community to “re-engineer the Internet” to eliminate anonymity online. Â Inappropriate, dangerous overkill anyone?