The nation's critical infrastructure is vital to carrying out the nation's military strategy, a senior Defense Department official told technology vendors Tuesday. Just as the United States usually targets other nations' infrastructures when it is at war, so have potentially hostile nations planned to attack infrastructures in the United States, said Jeffrey Robert Gaynor, special assistant for homeland security in the Defense Department's Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Security and Information Operations. "No one attacks their opponent's strengths," he said at a breakfast meeting sponsored by FSI, a McLean, Va.-based IT market research and consulting firm. Whether it is electrical systems in Bosnia or generators in Afghanistan, infrastructure is fair game, Gaynor said. To prove his point, he referred to a 1999 Chinese army publication, Unrestricted Warfare
, which was translated by the Central Intelligence Agency's Foreign Broadcast Information Service. The book sets out a scenario in which the nation's financial, telecommunications, electrical and transportation systems are targeted--a strategy commonly termed "asymmetric warfare." It states:
"[If] the attacking side secretly musters large amounts of capital without the enemy nation being aware…and launches a sneak attack against its financial markets, then after causing a financial crisis, buries a computer virus…in the opponent's computer system…while at the same time carrying out a network attack against the enemy so that the civilian electricity network, traffic dispatch network, financial transaction network, telephone communications network and mass media network are completely paralyzed, this will cause the enemy nation to fall into a social panic, street riots and a political crisis."
Speaking before a room of technology vendors in northern Virginia, Gaynor said the nation's critical infrastructure needs to be protected, but more importantly, needs to be able to withstand attacks. "Things are going to get hit," he said. "And people are going to make mistakes. Infrastructures need to be able to take a lickin' and keep on tickin'." Gaynor asked the audience to return to their companies and identify ways to protect "critical nodes," physical locations where numerous services coincide and whose destruction would disrupt national and economic security. "Do it now," he implored. Gaynor said the Defense Department is represented on four of the newly formed Critical Infrastructure Protection Board's 11 subcommittees: physical, national security systems, incident response and emergency preparedness. The White House created the board by executive order in October. Defense also pays attention to the research and development and outreach subcommittees as well, he said, and there are more policy coordinating committees under Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. "A total of 33 groups are working on these issues," Gaynor said.