One of the architects of US foreign policy under George W. Bush, General Michael Hayden, suggested that the US Government should consider creating a "Digital Blackwater" during an open conversation with Bloomberg's Allan Holmes and several other cybersecurity specialists on stage, during an event called the Aspen Security Forum.
Blackwater refers to the US private military group founded in 1997 and which has been renamed as Xe Services LLC, a move possibly linked with a number of high controversies that arose after the company expanded its security-related operations into Iraq and Afghanistan.
Recruiting mercenaries, Hayden suggested “might be one of those big new ideas in terms of how we have to conduct ourselves in this new cyber domain,” referring to cyber warfare.
He continued by saying “You think back long enough in history and there are times when the private sector was responsible for its own defense,” before adding “we may come to a point where defense is more actively and aggressively defined even for the private sector and what is permitted there is something that we would never let the private sector do in physical space".
Hayden went on to suggest the creation of a digital Blackwater, something that Xe might already be considering before hinting at what will happen next; "private sector expands to fill the empty space" before ominously claiming, "these are the kinds of things that are going to be put into play here very, very soon.”
Hayden's comments should not be taken lightly because of his background as the Director of the CIA and also the National Security Agency under George W. Bush; both agencies have either been hacked or been heavily involved in cyber warfare. Under his leadership, both also significantly increased their partnerships with private military groups like Blackwater.
Recruiting whitehat hackers in the world of online security is nothing new, but Hayden suggests externalising the process of cyberwarfare away from the US government as it did with private military companies during the last decade. The complete discussion can be found below.