The Defend Forward concept emerged from the US Department of Defense 2018 National Cyber Strategy. Senior Defense Department leaders had grown increasingly concerned about the sophisticated ways in which certain nation-states were bringing together economic coercion, political influence, information operations, cyber operations, and conventional and unconventional military operations to advance their national interests.
The evidence of those persistent nation-states efforts to project power globally and compete with the US in cyberspace showed up in a staggering series of cyber incidents.
These include interference in the 2016 election, the crippling 2017 WannaCry and NotPetya attacks, the 2017 theft of cyber tools from the US National Security Agency (NSA), corporate intellectual property theft, as well as the massive US Office of Personnel Management and Equifax data breaches.
Because the outcomes from those cyberattacks did not meet the threshold to elicit a traditional kinetic military response, there was little the US government and military could do to intervene proactively. The United States’ diplomatic and military posture in the years leading up to 2018 had been to focus on deterrents to cyber aggression and only respond in the event deterrence failed.
Defense Department leaders realized that the kind of adversarial competition in which certain nation-states were engaging demanded new, more proactive and innovative ways of integrating the elements of national power. Defend Forward became the cyber component of a new strategic approach to this competition. As such, there is tremendous value in applying many of the concepts of Defend Forward beyond the government and military sectors.
The Cyber Defenders Council, sponsored by Cybereason, is an independent group of preeminent cybersecurity leaders from public and private sector organizations around the world with the mission to adapt the Defend Forward deterrence concepts for the private sector to better protect enterprises and other organizations.
The Council will be producing a series of reports with prescriptive guidance designed to help organizations implement key Defend Forward strategies that will increase the costs for attackers and improve the overall efficacy of Defenders.
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