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INSA Report: Cyber Intelligence… Setting the landscape for an emerging disciple

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) is a group of professionals bound by a common desire to enhance the national security of the United States. Members include experts who have seen the brutal realities of international affairs and have also seen the impact of sound policy on our nation’s well being. INSA is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan, private sector organization which seeks to provide a forum for thought leadership.

One of the many significant areas INSA has been contributing ideas to is the issue of Cyber Operations.  Many of INSA’s contributions to this discipline have been via a very active Cyber Council led by one of our nation’s foremost national strategic planners, Ms. Terry Roberts. She leads a team of volunteers who seek to advance issues across a broad front in the cyber domain.

Terry and the INSA staff have just released a new document which, in my opinion, makes incredible contributions to national security discussion. The document, titled “Cyber Intelligence… Setting the landscape for an emerging discipline“, is one I believe belongs in every household in America. No kidding. We need more dialog on issues like this, and we need that dialog to be based on the well reasoned assessments of people who have truly seen both the threat and our own capabilities against it, and this document does that very well.

Let me give you a feel for why I think this is a revolutionary document. One is the documents articulation of cyber threat dynamics. It is true that you can pick up any book by any security expert or any pseudo security expert and read articulations of the threat. And for the most part the experts and pseudo experts are all just borrowing from each other anyway because there are just so many ways to say “hacker or hacker group or criminal organization or nation state.”  Articulations and definitions of the threat have a place, but we have had those taxonomies for decades now and copying them from book to book is not helping us find greater awareness or insights into what we should be doing about them.

Meanwhile, the US and other governments have direct experience and information on cyber threats that cannot be released due to classification rules or the threat to ongoing operations. So the really important stuff is not being brought out to be dissected and debated and learned from.

A group like INSA must still operate in classification guidelines and the professionals there would never even come close to violating their oaths to protect. But their deep national security expertise and awareness has allowed them to add color and context to the threat in ways no other organization could possibly do. The result is an articulation of cyber threat dynamics that is important, understandable, and compelling.

Another contribution this document makes is an insightful strategic view into the costs of defense and failure to defend. This is not a simple equation, and the context provided here contributes significantly to the dialog.

The document also offers a very elegant/advanced tutorial into the role and purpose of intelligence in the cyber arena. This section and its framework holds truths which should prove to be insightful to generations of cyber intelligence professionals.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of this document, however, is its articulation of areas for further discussion and review. The items and issues captured there are in definite need of informed dialog. Which brings us back to the importance of the overall document: we need a broader swath of our citizens engaged in an informed dialog on these important cyber issues. Getting this document into the hands of every citizen in the country would be a GREAT way to do that.

So, now it is your turn citizen. Please download the document, read it, think about it and enhance your contributions to the cyber dialog underway today.

Find it here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/62196647/Insa-Cyber-Intelligence-2011
Insa Cyber Intelligence 2011

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Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder and partner at Cognitio Corp and publsher of CTOvision.com

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