Federal Times on how the new Department of Defense cyber strategy stresses more deterrence and offensive power than its primarily defensive-oriented predecessor (emphasis added):

While the idea of deterrence may hark back to the Cold War, it is a critical piece of the new strategy and one that Carter underscored in an April 23 address at Stanford University in which he unveiled the new plan.

“Adversaries should know that our preference for deterrence and our defensive posture don’t diminish our willingness to use cyber options if necessary,” Carter said. “And when we do take action — defensive or otherwise, conventionally or in cyberspace — we operate under rules of engagement that comply with international and domestic law.”

Those rules of engagement might not include a military retaliation to a high-profile hacking incident like the one that recently hit Sony. But when such events happen and all eyes are on cybersecurity, the cyber strategy signifies the U.S. military’s presence and capabilities if something similar were to happen to a .mil network or another network deemed to be a U.S. national interest meriting defense from DoD. It also outlines how the Pentagon may coordinate with other key agencies in such a situation.

“This fits into strengthening deterrence, which is important after Sony, and even more important to signal to the Russians and Chinese,” said Jim Lewis, director and senior fellow of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They also want to get the public more comfortable with what DoD can and can’t do in cyberspace. It reiterates the defensive mission outside borders, offensive and defensive capabilities, and also an objective to support the Homeland Security Department and the FBI.”

Details related to those offensive or defensive capabilities in DoD’s cyber arsenal may be new to the DoD cyber discussion, at least as far as the general public is concerned. But insiders say it’s no different than the ways weapons are discussed in relation to operations on land, in the air and at sea.

This is exactly where DoD needs to be headed. They need to get out in front of cyber rather than being left behind by the likes of Russia, China, Iran, and other highly sophisticated nation states.