International Coverage of the Department of Defense's Cyber Strategy

Jul 18, 2011

General International Coverage:
Most news articles that mention the new Department of Defense’s (DOD) cyber strategy lead with the story of the Pentagon cyber intrusions. The first aspect of the strategy noted most frequently is the new classification of cyberspace as an operation domain. Articles then proceeded to list the major initiatives, international engagement efforts, and defensive focus of the strategy. The countries whose news outlets did not lead with stories of the Pentagon hack were China and India. Chinese and Russian news sources were skeptical of the defensive nature of the strategy. Al Jazeera and Australian news sources noted that this strategy did not define what constituted an act of war in cyberspace. Overall, the story was primarily covered in the US news outlets and wires agencies; an estimated 30 international articles were written.

The UK covered the story in the BBC, Guardian and the Telegraph. Each news outlet described the cyber strategy in the context of the March cyber attack on the Pentagon. Articles also focused on the operational domain of cyberspace and the aspect of the strategy that stated DOD would work to deny the benefit of a cyber attack. The BBC mentioned the Pentagon’s efforts to build a ‘scale model’ of the Internet.

Most European news outlets used wire articles to cover the event. Articles focused on the operational domain, as well as the international outreach aspect of the cyber strategy. Stories stressed that while the strategy was essentially defensive, it is no longer a passive defense and included the defense of key civilian networks. One article by EWeek Europe mentioned the Defense Industrial Base Cyber-Pilot as an example of inter-agency cooperation with defense contractors. 
    France: (AFP on France 24) -
    Germany ( Suddeutsche Zeitung)
    Radio Free Europe:
    EWeek Europe:

Unlike their international counterparts, Indian news sources were more likely to begin articles with the cyber strategy as opposed to the Pentagon attacks. Articles mentioned the five strategic initiatives designed to deny the benefit of the attack, followed by DOD’s cooperative efforts with government agencies, contractors, and international allies.
    Times of India:

Middle East:
The Middle East news outlet that covered the story in depth was Al Jazeera. They began the story with the Pentagon attack, and then described the strategy’s active defense and network protection initatives. Al Jazeera was critical of cyber strategy because it did not address the legal justification of an act of war in cyber space. Israeli papers covered the cyber strategy as a side note to the Pentagon hacking incident.
    Al Jazeera:

Chinese news outlets focused primarily on the cyber strategy and not the Pentagon attack. Articles noted of the shift from passive to active defense, and cited expert commentary that this could be an attempt by the US to “militarize cyberspace and gain dominance in the new warzone” (Xinuha). Chinese news outlets believe Lynn’s speech and the DOD cyber strategy are efforts to downplay these concerns.
    China Daily (from Xinuha):

The cyber strategy was not covered (independent of wire stories) in major Russian papers. Where it was covered, there was skepticism that the strategy was truly defensive in nature.
    Voice of Russia:

Australia / New Zealand:
Australian news outlets criticized the cyber strategy for not describing what constitutes an act of war or offensive plans for the use of force in cyberspace. Similar to other news outlets, they led with the story of the Pentagon hack and focused on the strategy’s emphasis on cyberspace as an operational domain. Articles also described DOD’s efforts to improve security, establish partnerships with other agencies, and improve the cyber workforce.
    CRN Australia:,us-defence-dept-releases-cyber-operati...
    Sydney Morning Herald: (from AFP)
    New Zealand: Computerworld:

Brazilian news outlets led with the Pentagon hack, and subsequently mentioned cyber strategy and the new designation of cyberspace as an ‘operational area’. Some articles interpreted this designation as a declaration that the Internet is a war zone.
    O Globo: