This article was published on March 7, 2016

Silicon Valley is planning to test how well the US stands up to cyber attacks

Silicon Valley is planning to test how well the US stands up to cyber attacks Image by: Ken Wolter /
Kirsty Styles
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Kirsty Styles


Kirsty Styles is a journalist who lives in Hackney. She was previously editor at Tech City News and is now a reporter at The Next Web. She l Kirsty Styles is a journalist who lives in Hackney. She was previously editor at Tech City News and is now a reporter at The Next Web. She loves tech for good, cleantech, edtech, assistive tech, politech (?), diversity in tech.

US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is cozying up to Silicon Valley innovators who he believes can help beat terrors groups like ISIS – including hosting a cyber “war game” to help plan the response to future cyber attacks.

Speaking to Kara Swisher for the Re/code Decode podcast, Carter explained:

I’m going to be doing a war game while I’m out here with some innovators to ask ourselves exactly that question: how do we respond to a hypothetical future situation? In this case a cyber attack. We need to be thinking, we need to be investing along those lines…. Obviously people will try to attack our systems because that’s one of our strengths, that’s why cyber security, including encryption, are so important to us.

He called ISIL the “first social media terrorist group,” because they are recruiting, organizing and spreading terror through channels like Twitter and explained:

We’re equipping, we’re training but we’re also using cyber tools in Iraq and Syria to blackout the command and control networks of ISIL, to make them wonder and doubt their ability to coordinate their activities and so we will, I’m confident of this, take back the territory that ISIL now occupies.

Carter also used his interview to detail what he says is the US government line on encryption, which goes against that of the FBI:

We, the Department of Defense, have and share with many companies and individuals a serious concern about data security because nothing works without our networks. That’s how we make ships, tanks, planes, soldiers all talk to one and other so we need good data security. Therefore we are on the side, as the whole government is, for strong encryption.

He’s been taking a tour of Silicon Valley as another opportunity to win over techies to help his department innovate.

As well as explaining more about Eric Schmidt’s recently announced role as the new head of the Defense Department Innovation Board and giving more detail on the bug bounty program, Carter tugged on the heartstrings to appeal for new blood:

We’re trying to work on problems that matter to human beings. People in the innovative community are difference makers so they’re looking to do things of consequence and if you talk to them about a problem like combating terrorism, or freedom of the seas, or data security, they like to work on things that really matter.

If you show them a way that they can do that, in partnership with the government, help be part of something bigger than themselves, which is protecting our people and making a better world for our children, I find that it excites them. The right approach to this general question of data security will be found in partnership between government and industry. That’s the right way.

The organization’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental already resides in Silicon Valley and currently gives seed funding for new defense projects. “I’m not necessarily asking you to join the military – just come in, help us solve a problem,” he said.

Plus, the new Defense Digital Service is being led by former Microsoft and White House Digital Service man Chris Lynch. “What he does is help me bring in people, just to give it a try, just to give it a year working on a project,” Carter explained.

He likes to emphasize the historically high levels of cooperation between government and corporations as reason for the Pentagon and the Valley to unite once more.

But, given the current battle taking place between the FBI and Apple, which is just one in a series of massive government infringements on our digital freedoms, this all feels a little creepy.

Re/code Decode – Ash Carter, United States Secretary of Defense [Product Hunt]

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