The worldwide cyber conflict is only going to increase and the risks and devastating economic impacts will continue to mount. The United States and other "like-minded" countries must spring into action, increase their cyber warfare capabilities, put in place national cyber policies and promulgate stronger international cyber laws to fend off aggressive cyber actors, warned experts at the CyConUS 2017 conference in Washington, D.C., on November 7. The event was co-hosted by the Army Cyber Institute, West Point and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), Tallinn, Estonia.
The Department of Defense (DOD) Operational Test and Evaluation Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report indicates that while there has been significant cybersecurity progress over the past few years, network defense as a warfighting function continues to be undervalued.
Despite the department’s concerted and progressive network modernization efforts, many networks are built on outdated legacy architectures that were never designed to address the challenges posed by continually evolving threat vectors. Neither agile nor flexible enough to be able to adjust, they are vulnerable to the security risks posed by increasingly intelligent, nimble and enterprising hackers.
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’) Office of Inspector General (OIG) says the department needs to improve how it facilitates cyberthreat information sharing between federal government agencies and the private sector. Although the OIG acknowledges DHS’ progress in enabling sharing among government entities, the department’s system still focuses on volume, velocity and timeliness of information but does not provide the quality, contextual data needed for the private sector to effectively defend against ever-evolving threats.
The government’s effort to balance cybersecurity with continued innovation was underscored last year with the publication of the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity’s Report on Securing and Growing the Digital Economy. The report included key recommendations for cybersecurity enhancements, while also serving as a sobering reminder that “many organizations and individuals still fail to do the basics” when it comes to security.
The United States should not underestimate the ability of terrorist organizations such as ISIS to mount cyber attacks against the homeland, says John Mulligan, former deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center. As the nation works to shrink territorial control of the caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the battlefront extends virtually to the cyber domain, and America must be prepared.
It is essential to learn from cyber attacks conducted by state and nonstate actors to define resilience for cybersecurity or cyber terrorism. "We need to develop a threat model for cyber resilience. We have to be prudent to distinguish between cyber warfare and cyber terrorism," said Anita T. Abbott, Ph.D., director, adjunct professor, Global Partnership and Development Ltd., during the TechNet Asia-Pacific conference.
Data, in the world of Terry Halvorsen, is more like milk than wine. It does not get better with age, and if you leave it out too long, it will spoil. Halvorsen is chief information officer and executive vice president IT and Mobile Communication B2B Business, Samsung Electronics. “We are keeping and storing vast amounts of data that does not do anything for us," he explained during his keynote address at AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific.
You often hear that storage is cheap, but all that stored data has an impact on the speed of the data you want. It makes it harder to find the data you want or to aggregate it in a meaningful way.
The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has awarded a $163 million task order to SRA International, a subsidiary of CSRA Inc. The award directs CSRA to support DISA’s endpoint security solution integrator support effort under the General Services Administration’s Alliant Government-wide Acquisition Contract, the company announced.
Electronic warfare (EW) is one of the most complex, least understood and difficult operating environments we face. U.S. forces in Southwest Asia did not encounter a consistently serious EW challenge, and in some ways, EW has become a forgotten capability. Since the end of the Cold War, when we concentrated on defending and waging EW against the Soviets, attention has turned elsewhere. Now the Soviet heirs in Russia, as well as other adversaries, have refined and sharpened their EW skills. If we engage in a higher level of conflict than we have faced in the recent past, then we will likely confront a foe wielding a vastly improved EW capability that could threaten the success of our operations.
Cyber defense and mission assurance require technology solutions, but it is equally important to go beyond the access point and look at user behavior. Ward Heinke, vice president, strategic alliances, Government Markets, ForcePoint, started off the industry panel at TechNet Asia-Pacific with that point. He admitted it is not news about the human threat, or that the threat ranges from innocent mistakes to strategic attacks,but we are seeing the real life effects at an increasing rate he warned.
Experimentation is moving to the fore in cyberspace as the U.S. Army seeks to strengthen offensive and defensive cyber forces. This effort is complicated by the inclusion of electronic warfare in a realm that used to belong to signal professionals. With cyberspace maturing as a battle domain, Army experts are exploring cyber modeling and simulation as a key element of their new experimentation approach.
A number of emerging technologies, including integrated photonics, microdrones and automation tools, will drive an improved perception of available electromagnetic spectrum by U.S. warfighters and enhanced effectiveness in electronic warfare, says William Conley, deputy director, electronic warfare, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
William Conley has a long to-do list.
He serves on the U.S. Defense Department’s Electronic Warfare (EW) Executive Committee, which helped draft the department’s EW strategy, signed earlier this year. Now, the deputy director of electronic warfare in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics is helping to put together an implementation plan for that strategy, which he expects to be signed in the spring.
U.S. Defense Department researchers are testing cognitive electronic warfare technologies that within the next decade could autonomously counter adversary systems without preprogramming. The capability may allow the military to eclipse its adversaries in the electronic warfare domain.
Three closely related Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) programs apply artificial intelligence to the electromagnetic spectrum and will likely result in electronic warfare (EW) systems with unprecedented autonomy. The first two—Adaptive Radar Countermeasures (ARC) and Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic Warfare (BLADE) are considered sister programs. Both apply artificial intelligence, or AI, to EW systems.
Today, government agency leaders have been tasked to identify and follow multiple modernization initiatives with the possibility of driving private-sector customizations and delivery practices and the associated business efficiencies into the public sector.
Spanning from the policies circulating through Congress to initiatives set forth by the Trump administration, it’s clear that the federal government has big changes in store when it comes to integrating new forms of innovative technology.
The threat of cyberwarfare from adversaries is only expected to increase, and the U.S. must boost its cyber defenses, including its training and certification. The military is still considering how best to conduct defensive cyberspace operations education.
Cyberspace is an operational domain, and cybersecurity is essential to the operational readiness of military units to achieve the mission, defeat the adversary and win wars. Our increasing reliance on cyberspace for command and control and operations in all domains, the explosion of networked digital technologies within combat and support systems, and the growing capabilities of adversaries to threaten the United States and its allies in cyberspace mean greater risks to our mission and to national security.
To say that the Army’s network needs an update is an understatement. The 1.1 million user-network has, among other things, 17 mission command systems—all “stovepiped,” designed never to interact together. Some of the systems were used in the early 2000s to fight a static war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The lines between nation-state and criminal cyber attacks are blurring, and the pace of their onslaughts is increasing geometrically as everyone from private citizens to secure government organizations is targeted. Most importantly, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to either cybersecurity or threat intelligence. Each aspect must be tailored to the threat and the threatened.
Many of these points were brought forward in an AFCEA classified cyber forum earlier this year. Addressing the theme of “Evolving Cyber Threat Intelligence, Means, Methods and Motives,” the forum generated some valuable unclassified observations and conclusions relevant to dealing with today’s cyberthreat.