Colin Kahl, the Biden administration’s nominee to serve as the Department of Defense’s (DoD) undersecretary for policy, said that he would drive network resiliency to combat the increase in cyberattacks during his confirmation hearing, FedScoop reported on Friday.
Kahl added that DoD has to be able to quickly repair and harden vulnerabilities in its networks. He used the SolarWinds Orion attack as an example for increasing the speed of response to ensure stronger deterrence and defense against cyberattacks.
“Our networks have to be more resilient so they bounce back further,” Kahl told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Kahl has endorsed the department’s existing cyber strategy of “defend forward,” where cyber-operators penetrate adversary networks to gain insight on and disrupt potential attacks. He also supports sanctions and imposing costs for cyberattacks.
“I tend to align myself with the views of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission,” Kahl said. He added that there needs to be “deterrence by punishment” to mitigate future attacks.
Kahl also noted that he would address IT vulnerabilities and target weaknesses in DoD networks. “As we craft our National Defense Strategy … we have to be prioritizing investments in these areas,” he said.
He added that technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing and biotechnology will “define life” for the next century, and should have support from the DoD through more science and technology education, and research and development spending.
Kahl has studied the impacts of emerging technologies in defense and international security. That research, he said, would inform his leadership in the Pentagon if confirmed, stressing that emerging technologies must be prioritized in the budget as the DOD faces Great Power Competition with China and others.