Cyber Talk Radio: Modernization of Cyber Defense in the Military

Bret Piatt, CTR Host, and Don Lewis, former deputy director of the NATO Cyberspace Ops Centre - Episode 149 of Cyber Talk Radio

This past Saturday, August 3, episode 149 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Don Lewis, the former deputy director of the NATO Cyberspace Ops Centre, to discuss the modernization of cyber defense, cybersecurity and IT in the military..

We start off this episode with a quick rundown of Don’s background and how he came to land in San Antonio. He was stationed here 10 years ago and decided to move here to continue his career after leaving Belgium, where he was stationed at the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) headquarters. In short, Don’s jobs consisted of making sure they were deterring cyberspace threats to the alliance, using the resources of 30 countries. There are traditionally three domains of defense: air, land and water. Recently, a fourth domain has officially been recognized: cyberspace. Cyberspace is unique because there are no physical boundaries, but it still needs to be defined somehow. It’s a place in which you can achieve effects and also support operations in other domains. When he went to work at NATO in Belgium for his last assignment, he thought it’d be low key and simple, but turned out they were going through a transition to recognize cyberspace as a domain of operations. One of the main challenges with cyberspace is that it moves quickly and is hard to control and see its origins. Before the break, we give some advice — question everything and try to verify info, because scams, identity theft and data breaches are becoming increasingly easier thanks to phishing and targeting individuals vulnerabilities, meaning that companies and governments need to make sure that everybody is trained to be aware and cybersecure.

After the break, Don breaks down for me how cyber defense is really a subset of cyber operations. It’s about bringing in information about networks and getting national level intelligence about the ‘bad guys.’ It’s also about prioritizing — both risk assessment and management are crucial. How does Don get from an idea to real operations? He identifies team structure and members’ skill sets, then uses the deliberate processes already in place, which can be tedious, but are there for a reason. Where does cyberspace security go from here? We need to focus on increasing the pool of talented and eager workers with cyber skills. Before I close out the episode, we discuss teams in NATO and how individuals’ strengths add up to make a diverse and fun work environment.

Listen to the full episode replay to learn more about what’s going on at NATO’s Cyberspace Ops Centre.

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