DOD Releases the Unclassified 2023 Cyber Strategy Summary

POH – EN.675.641.81.FA23

The Department of Defense released their 2023 Cyber Strategy on September 12, 2023. The unclassified summary presents the overarching priorities but does not expand in depth how the DoD will pursue accomplishing their listed Cyber Strategy Lines of Effort (LOE).

  • Defend the Nation
  • Prepare to fight and win the nation’s wars
  • Protect the cyber domain with allies and partners
  • Build enduring advantage in cyberspace

The DoD last updated their Cyber Strategy in 2018. The unclassified summary states, “The classified 2023 Department of Defense Cyber Strategy establishes how the Department will operate in and through cyberspace to protect the American people and advance the defense priorities of the United States. It implements the priorities of the 2022 National Security Strategy, 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS), and 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy.”

In the released summary, there is an admission that malicious actors are targeting our critical infrastructure and it specifically calls out Russia and China as using cyber activities as a means to counter US military power, undermine its capabilities, and compromise critical infrastructure.

  • Excerpt from LOE 1, Defend the Nation: “We will defend forward, disrupting and degrading malicious cyber actors’ capabilities and supporting ecosystems. The Department will work with its interagency partners to leverage available authorities to enable the defense of U.S. critical infrastructure.”
  • Excerpt from LOE 1, Defend the Nation: “U.S. adversaries regularly use malicious cyber activity to target our critical infrastructure. In crisis, they will seek to hinder U.S. military mobilization, sow chaos, and harm the American people. The Department will support whole-of-Government efforts to raise U.S. cybersecurity standards in order to increase resilience and make it more difficult for adversaries to disrupt these essential services.”
  • Except from LOE 1, Defend the Nation: “Consistent with the 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy, the Department will leverage all legally available contractual mechanisms, resources, and operational arrangements to improve the cybersecurity of U.S. critical infrastructure systems. We will expand public-private partnerships to ensure that DoD resources, expertise, and intelligence are made available to support key private sector initiatives.”

In summary, there is no specific mention of the space domain or space infrastructure in the public release of the DoD Cyber Strategy. LOE 1, Defend the Nation, clearly prioritizes US critical infrastructure and addresses it as at risk. The question is, does the DoD consider space infrastructure and its ecosystem as critical? One hopes that the classified document expands upon what is considered critical infrastructure and how cybersecurity resilience will be achieved. No matter the answer, the language in the 2023 Cyber Strategy is promising and will be used as a guiding justification for many seeking an overhaul in space cybersecurity.