Russia may have popularized the manipulation of social media to further its own agenda, but it was not the first country to do so, nor will it be the last. A number of other countries are engaging in similar tactics, but so far have flown largely under the radar. The Oxford Internet Institute found that at least 28 countries worldwide are exploiting social media to influence the public opinion of their own or foreign populations.
The Cyber Edge
The growing interconnection among the elements of the critical infrastructure may hold the key to safeguarding it against an increasingly sophisticated threat picture. Many elements of the critical infrastructure depend on each other, and securing them in a coordinated endeavor holds promise for combatting adversaries who are targeting it on a daily basis.
Trident Juncture 2018, a large-scale NATO military exercise, wrapped up late last year. But in the weeks since, the alliance has been doing something it has never done before by using big data science to help inform lessons learned from the exercise.
Many people have written marketing off as frivolous, but it is a field of constant data-driven experimentation, and in the past decade social media sites such as Facebook have become state-of-the-art laboratories for honing influence messaging. In the information revolution marketplace, the organization with the most data and the ability to utilize it wins.
In today’s environment, the network no longer can be considered a safe zone. Every asset an organization possesses and every transaction it conducts must be secured as if it were a standalone item continually exposed to the full range of cyber threats. The realization that perimeter protection alone is not sufficient has led to the security concept of Zero Trust. In this never-trust/always-verify approach, all entities and transactions rely on multiple solutions to work together and secure digital assets.
A 2018 exercise developed by the Army Cyber Institute at West Point and hosted by the city of Houston provided participants with a full view of potential critical infrastructure crises while also offering a path to security and resiliency. Known as the Jack Voltaic 2.0 Cyber Research Project, the exercise exposed critical infrastructure issues to 200 participants from 44 organizations.
NATO’s longtime motto says that an attack on one NATO member is considered an attack on all the alliance. Today, this creed also applies to cyberspace, alliance leaders indicate. NATO’s new Cyberspace Operations Center, formed in August 2018, takes up the mantle of defending the alliance in the digital realm.
The vulnerabilities of machine learning models open the door for deceit, giving malicious operators the opportunity to interfere with the calculations or decision making of machine learning systems. Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory, specializing in adversarial machine learning, are working to strengthen defenses and advance this aspect of artificial intelligence.
As the U.S. Army continues to evolve its newest warfighting domain, the cyber domain, information plays a key role. The service is working to incorporate information capabilities along with intelligence, electronic warfare, cyber and space, as well as with traditional fire capabilities.
In December, the Army released a doctrine guiding multidomain operations through 2028. The policy acknowledges that U.S. adversaries are contesting all domains, and that in the information environment American dominance is not guaranteed.
The newly created Cyber and Non-Kinetic Operations Division within the Air Combat Command is expected to reach full strength this summer. The new organization integrates multiple missions, including cyber, electronic warfare, intelligence and information warfare.
Some people worry that artificial intelligence will steal their jobs, but machine learning algorithms now generate images of fake fingerprints that match the prints of one in five people on the planet. Other biometric identification systems, such as face and iris recognition, may also be vulnerable. The capability puts the mobile device industry on notice that current biometric authentication systems may not be adequate for securing cell phones and other devices.
The maritime services continue to maintain a balance between cyber and kinetic weapons even while engaged in a daily cyber conflict.
Leaders for all three maritime services—the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard—participated in a town hall forum during the AFCEA-USNI West 2019 Conference in San Diego, and they agreed that cyber conflict rages on.
“If you’re asking me if I think we’re at war, I think I’d say yes,” Gen. Robert Neller, USMC, Marine Corps commandant, told one audience member. “We’re at war right now in cyberspace. We’ve been at war for maybe a decade. They’re pouring oil over the castle walls every day.”
The United States is fully engaged in combat operations in the cyber realm, according to a panel of military officials at the AFCEA-USNI West conference in San Diego.
Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), president and CEO of AFCEA International, who served as moderator on the panel, kicked off the discussion saying the nation is in “Phase III” in the information domain. Phase III refers to the multiple stages of war. According to GlobalSecurity.org, the phases include: halting an invasion, force buildup and deployment, counteroffensive or counterattack, and ensuring postwar stability.
Last year the U.S. Defense Department released a cyber strategy and followed that with posture review that identified more than 90 gaps in cybersecurity capabilities, many of which were determined to be critical shortcomings. This year, officials expect to begin implementing the strategy, beginning with several priority areas involving endpoint management, network visibility, user authentication and cyber force development, according to Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall, USMC, deputy principal cyber advisor, Office of the Secretary of Defense.
The cloud strategy document released this week by the U.S. Defense Department is drawing mixed reactions from industry and military officials. Experts welcome the strategy as an important step toward modernizing the department’s infrastructure but also express some concerns and note that many questions remain.
The U.S. Navy is consolidating its information warfare efforts to ensure effective operations across the breadth of the fleet and its ashore assets. This endeavor ties together training, doctrine and equipping as new threats and technologies rapidly change the nature of the information operations realm.
The U.S. Coast Guard is pursuing digital solutions to support its unique set of military, law enforcement, humanitarian, regulatory and diplomatic responsibilities. It is no small feat to provide information technology to its workforce of 87,570, as well as to its cutters, boats, and aircraft that move along the coastline and inland waterways protecting the United States.
Months after initiating a project to research and rapidly field information warfare-related technologies, the U.S. Navy has expanded the effort servicewide and expects to field the first system by the end of fiscal year 2019.
The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Systems Center Atlantic announced last summer the formation of an industry consortium for the Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP). The intent is to leverage the flexible contracting platform known as other transaction authority (OTA) to rapidly develop and deploy technologies.
A broad misconception is that the U.S. Army Signal Corps is a single-function organization, but its responsibilities have grown over time, and it is now a vital element of communications support that applies technology to ensure mission success. As much as the Army performs maneuver operations on land, it also performs signal offensive, defensive and stability operations in the cyber domain.
The Army’s Signal officers are expected to perform duties well beyond communications support. Signal organizations are the nexus of cyber and electronic warfare activities.
Two years’ experience at the U.S. Cyber Command has shaped U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Dermanelian’s perspective as he implements, as commander, the Coast Guard Cyber Command’s three main missions: (1) defending the Coast Guard’s portion of the Department of Defense Information Network, or DODIN; (2) protecting the maritime transportation sector; and (3) enabling cyber operations. The admiral is dual hatted as the assistant commandant for command, control, communications, computers and information technology/CG-6 as well as being the commander of the Coast Guard Cyber Command.