In a recent hearing, the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Cyber Command head said that ISIS is the most adaptive group to cyber he’s seen in 35 years. “ISIL remains the most adaptive target I’ve ever worked in 35 years as an intelligence professional,” Adm. Michael Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee. At a time when cyber attacks are nearly expected, not surprisingly, this is another alarm bell we should shift focus. Cyber should fast become a real priority in the military and Congress.

ISIS has become incredibly evasive. They use secure communications. They’ve learned and adapted how not to highlight themselves to the digital threat from the West. They probably train one another, bring in experts, and create guidelines for themselves. Who knows, they could use their cyber command and oversight of their foot soldiers. This is proof they’re evolving into something new for terror organizations. They have access around the world, are proficient at living and working in the shadows and control large portions of land. They’re reminiscent of both the Taliban and the global group Al-Qaeda that grew under their protection.

For the cyber aspect, this is a challenge of encryption. Hillary Clinton has said she wants to create a “Manhattan Project” to break all encryption. But there are grave consequences for privacy and secure messaging here at home. This is becoming a constant debate. Are we to sacrifice what we expect as our way of life to protect ourselves from the enemy. The answer is probably yes and no. We need counter measures to combat ISIL and to seek them out.  This is in part why it so concerns that we have such a divided Congress. There’s no clarity on such important issues.

If we grant the government the legal framework and ability to enter anyone’s device or become privy to their information, corruption becomes a huge concern. Every person has an agenda of some kind. Whether it’s not to be in trouble, to further their careers, religious beliefs. There are always certain forces at work. They aren’t necessarily negative in nature. There are even more for large bureaucratic institutions. Our idea of privacy is being stripped away, and we’re being desensitized as stolen emails emerge and private conversations come to light. This is the debate ongoing in Congress, right now.

From a more pragmatic perspective Adm. Rogers made the following argument:

“This encryption challenge has amplified the age-old security versus privacy debate. Rogers offered a different outlook on the problem noting that rather than focus on specific applications and users, applying a broad approach could expose vulnerabilities to generate intelligence.

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“The argument I’m trying to make from both the [National Security Administration] and the Cyber Command side is: ‘Guys, we’re dealing with a whole new ecosystem out there,’” said Rogers, who also directs the NSA. “Don’t focus on just one particular application as used by one particular target, think more broadly about the host of actors that are out there. … If we look at this more like an ecosystem — and we will find vulnerabilities — that we can access to generate the insights that the nation and our allies are counting on.”

We are world leaders and provide a safety net for an incredibly wide array of people and civilians. This argument shouldn’t be done behind closed doors but out in the open without specifics as to the “how, when, etc.” There is nationwide distrust of the government after 9/11 because of a perceived invasion of privacy. This could continue in the same manner, but might be a solid example of what good legislation looks like when it comes to civilian leadership and national security, if there’s a thorough and thoughtful debate.

Featured image courtesy of dailymail.co.uk