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 Cyber Edge
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Despite the department’s concerted and progressive network modernization efforts, many networks are built on outdated legacy architectures that were never designed to address the challenges posed by continually evolving threat vectors.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.
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.
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 White House announced on October 26 the intent to appoint John Zangardi, acting chief information officer (CIO) at the Department of Defense, to be the CIO for the Department of Homeland Security.
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.
Having confronted a need to modernize and fight against aggression during the last four years, Ukraine is positioning itself for strength in the long term in its weaponry and cyberwarfare. The country is developing its domestic defense industry base, which includes cyber capabilities.
“Ukraine clearly understands what needs to be done to keep the world’s democracy safe,” said Director General Roman Romanov of the Ukrainian Defense Industry, known as UkrOboronProm. “Ukraine has gained practical experience in resistance to a new type of aggression, which the whole world has never faced before. We believe we are to share this experience with all the democratic world.”
With the Internet of Things promising—or perhaps threatening—to connect many more millions of devices, experts from industry, government and the military are urging action.
The critical infrastructure covers a lot of territory, including banking and finance, gas and oil, health care, agriculture, water distribution, transportation, communication, law enforcement and emergency services. Many outdated and poorly secured computers, experts say, operate a great deal of that infrastructure. Additionally, commercial or private entities own the vast majority of the infrastructure, meaning that government has little authority to protect it.
Apps are one of the main channels consumers use to interact with your business, and nearly every business has one. Because of this, apps are an evident touch point of vulnerability. Cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated over the past few years, making app hacks difficult to spot. In fact, most organizations find out too late they’ve been hacked and are left to deal with damage control.
But how can you tell if your company’s app has been compromised? Keep an eye out for these three clues in your everyday operation:
The app isn’t acting by design.
A group of U.S. government researchers focused on fortifying homeland security has cybersecurity technology development down to a science.
Those researchers work for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), within the Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T’s) Cyber Security Division. The division, like the entire department, supports a wide range of missions, including science and technology research along with protecting critical infrastructure, securing government systems, assisting law enforcement and developing, training and educating the cyber work force.