Air Force to defend cyberspace

John Dimsdale Nov 2, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: We’ve got miles to go before the Fed starts talking interest rates again. Their next meeting’s not till the 12th of December. We mentioned earlier this week the Air Force is asking for more money to fight the war on terror. Today Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne announced the service is getting ready for the war of the future, too. Wynne’s setting up a major command center to keep the Internet safe from attack. Marketplace’s John Dimsdale reports from Washington.

JOHN DIMSDALE: The Air Force Secretary says the new focus on Internet security reflects the military’s growing reliance on computers and data networks. Even though there are no airplanes involved, eventually, the cyberspace security command is expected to be on par with the Air Combat Command.

The techno-defenders will join the 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana and will be led by Lieutenant General Robert Elder.

ROBERT ELDER: The equivalent of what’s happening in the cyberspace domain right now is if we were allowing al Qaeda to fly fighters over the United States right now on a routine basis. No way would we allow that to happen. We would definitely challenge them.

There is already a long list of cyberspace defenders, from the Department of Homeland Security to academic organizations such as the Computer Emergency Readiness Team, to voluntary business groups such as the Internet Engineering Task Force.

David Farber is an award-winning expert on the Internet. He prefers a decentralized security effort and hopes the Air Force won’t try to take over as coordinator.

DAVID FARBER: I always worry about large organizations who see a future in the Internet. Especially government organizations. It’s very hard for U.S. government organizations to really do very much because it’s borderless. And there are some countries who don’t trust the U.S. government as far as they can throw it.

The Air Force will ask for federal funds to set up its cyberspace command center in 2008.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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