Posts Tagged ‘Information Warfare’

US Military Cyber Defense

January 19, 2011

The US military is preparing for 21st Century electronic warfare and cyber terrorism. A joint US Cyber Command and four service cyber commands have been set up.

Their mission is to defend American military networks and civilian American infrastructure from cyber terrorism and from foreign government hackers.

More info at http://www.teamultimedia.com/cyber-defense.html

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Is US Facing a Cyber-Disaster?

January 4, 2009

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One expert has compared the failure of the information infrastructure to the simultaneous arrival of 50 major hurricanes in terms of how disruptive it would be to the national economy.

Against this backdrop, the rapid proliferation of cyber threats and the apparent adoption by some countries of information warfare as a national strategy is very troubling. Most of the nation’s economic infrastructure, including the information grids, is privately owned, and there are legal barriers to determining precisely how vulnerable parts of it may be.

Experiments conducted by the Department of Homeland Security have demonstrated how Internet predators might penetrate utilities and shut them down Read the full upi report.

“Former” Russian Spies Attack DoD Computer Networks

December 12, 2008
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The recent cyber attack on the U.S. military’s classified computer network has been traced to a front company run by several former Russian KGB or Federal Security Service spies, FOX News has learned. 

The attack led the Pentagon to ban the use of external hardware devices, such as flash drives, because that’s how the “worm” got into the classified military network. 

FOX News has learned the intrusion was discovered by the U.S. military in Afghanistan — and that the attack came through the local Internet service provider that the Afghans (under U.S. supervision) contracted out to a front company run by former Russian spies. 

Read the complete article

Russian Hackers Attack US central Command Networks

December 5, 2008
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Senior military leaders took the exceptional step of briefing President Bush this week on a severe and widespread electronic attack on Defense Department computers that may have originated in Russia — an incursion that posed unusual concern among commanders and raised potential implications for national security.

Defense officials would not describe the extent of damage inflicted on military networks. But they said that the attack struck hard at networks within U.S. Central Command, the headquarters that oversees U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and affected computers in combat zones. The attack also penetrated at least one highly protected classified network.

Military computers are regularly beset by outside hackers, computer viruses and worms. But defense officials said the most recent attack involved an intrusive piece of malicious software, or “malware,” apparently designed specifically to target military networks.

“This one was significant; this one got our attention,” said one defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing internal assessments.

Read more at the LA Times

Major Command vs. Numbered Air Force: Which is Better?

November 13, 2008
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The Air Force Cyber Command (AFCYBER) will “only” be a Numbered Air Force (NAF), not a Major Command (MAJCOM) as previously expected. Maj. Gen. William Lord, commander of 24th Air Force a.k.a. Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional), says this is a good thing. In a Shreveport Times report, Lord explained, “The numbered air force gives you something that the major command doesn’t and quite frankly that’s the direct connectivity to the combatant commander.” Lord also discussed the size and organization of AFCYBER, which will be subordinate to Air Force Space Command.

Air Force pursues Cyber Command again

October 9, 2008
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Top Air Force leadership has decided to pursue forming Cyber Command to defend Defense Department networks and to launch cyberattacks against foes after putting the project on hold in August.

The service’s leadership, including Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, made the decision last week at the Corona senior leadership conference in Colorado Springs, Colo., to continue its effort to stand up the command, said Capt. Michael Andrews, an Air Force spokesman.

Read the full article at NextGov

Recent Cyber Attacks Serve as Lesson, General Says

August 27, 2008

Recent cyber attacks against government information systems overseas should serve as a lesson that the United States needs to continue to strengthen its defenses against those who would target the country’s financial, business and military systems, the commander of U.S. Northern Command said today.

Appearing on C-Span’s “Newsmakers,” Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., who leads both NorthCom and North American Aerospace Defense Command, cited recent cyber attacks against the former Soviet republic of Georgia in which government Web sites were intermittently knocked offline, as well as last year’s cyber attacks against government computer systems in the Baltic nation of Estonia.

“We need to ensure that we learn the lessons of those two events, and that we continue to strengthen an integrated process to defend ourselves against these kinds of intrusion,” Renuart said.

Since early this month, hackers have attacked Georgian servers and Web sites, forcing the government to relocate the sites to other servers. Some sites were defaced, while others were simply rendered unavailable.

The general said NorthCom relies on space- and land-based sensors to identify threats, and that intrusions into its computer networks could disrupt the command’s ability to provide warning of an attack.

“It’s critical to our mission that we are comfortable that we have a secure network, that it’s resilient to probes and attacks, and that it will be able to sustain good decision-making … for the nation’s leaders,” Renuart said.

Renuart said that though there is ample funding to combat the threat, efforts to do so have been somewhat “segmented.”

The Department of Homeland Security has the mission for the cyber-defense of the nation, and its role is to integrate the other elements of government into that effort, the general said. But cyber threats are not just a government problem, he said. Private industries — finance, health care, business and others – have a stake, Renuart noted.

“All of those have to come together in a unified effort if we are to maintain adequate defense against those who might intrude to our networks and try to disrupt them. It’s a big challenge,” Renuart said. He said better integration among the agencies is critical to success.

“If you are going to be successful at defending it, you have to have strong and close integration among the various agencies,” Renuart said.

The general stopped short of saying additional legislation is needed from Congress to better integrate the agencies, calling that a discussion for top U.S. leaders.

“Because this is such a broad area and it touches so many different elements of our society – business, medical care, information, certainly military and economic – many of those same organizations are struggling with ‘How do you pull them together in a more coherent fashion?’” Renuart said.

Renuart said that the departments of Homeland Security and Defense are working “aggressively” together alongside many private partner corporations. He also said that many in the private sector are “further advanced” than the Defense Department in some areas. He cited the banking and investing industries, which have advanced protections built into their systems, and said the government should partner with the private sector so that defense systems are compatible.

During the question-and-answer session with journalists on the program, the general was asked if he considers Russia a threat to the United States. Renuart called Russia a growing power. The country emerged from the Cold War struggling politically and economically, but now is stable economically and is expanding its sphere of influence, he said.

Russia also is becoming more active militarily, the general noted, sending its nuclear submarines and long-range bombers further from its shores. The country has also held recent tests of its intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Still, Renuart said, he is not yet concerned that the United States and Russia will face off within the international community any time soon.

“I’m not as worried that a Cold War relationship is returning so much,” Renuart said. “Those are things we have to pay attention to, but I think it is important not to swing the pendulum too much in an alarmist fashion.”

He said that the Russian military movements involving the U.S. military have been conducted “professionally” and in compliance with U.S. requests.

Renuart was also asked about the Arctic region and its increasing significance in national security. An increase in navigable water in the region has resulted in increased traffic by military, research and tourist vessels.

Renuart said his concerns are how to ensure adequate search and rescue capability, maintain a presence that can monitor movement of other military forces in the region, and ensure that the United States is involved in discussions and negotiations about military movement in the region.

NORAD monitors the air space over the Arctic.

“I don’t see a threat to the nation coming from the Arctic,” Renuart said. “But I do see security concerns that will arise as you have nations compete for resources, as you have nations compete for passage, as you have commercial interests competing for passage through the area. All of those have a security element, and I think we just have to have a good discussion about it.”

Tunnel systems along the U.S.-Mexican border also came up in the questioning. The tunnels are used by criminals for drug and weapons smuggling, and U.S. officials have long feared they also could be used by terrorists. Renuart said his command is “increasingly successful” at finding the tunnels and passing the information on to law enforcement officials, who investigate and monitor them.

Technology used first in Afghanistan now is helping to pinpoint border tunnels, or potential tunnel locations. But Renuart called the tunnels a “reality and a challenge” and said the narcotics traffickers are “learning adversaries.”

“As you close one route, they’ll open another,” Renuart said.

Renuart said that as officials are successful interdicting by the air, traffickers move to the sea. As U.S. officials stop more by sea, traffickers go underground.

“If we believed we have solved the problem, we are almost guaranteeing it will come back. You can’t take your eye off the ball in this kind of a situation,” Renuart said.

The general said his command works closely with other agencies in its efforts on the border and across the United States. He called NorthCom’s relationship with its 60 federal partners extremely “close and solid.”

“We are seeing a team now that is closer-knit than maybe ever before,” Renuart said.

Forty-five of the agencies have assigned senior officials to NorthCom’s headquarters. They are integrated in the planning and operations and interagency coordination process. Renuart said the days of frictions among governmental agencies are over.

“Those days are gone. We are working hand in hand,” he said. “We are seeing now a synergy that is really strong.”

This type of interagency cooperation is critical as NorthCom tries to focus efforts across an array of potential threats to the United States, Renuart said. Every day his command monitors threats overseas, develops roles of missile defense, looks for air threats inside U.S. borders and provides military support relief efforts after natural and man-made disasters and threats.

“On any given day, one of them will be our highest priority,” Renuart said.

“What keeps me awake is making sure that our team is focused on the many threats out there, and not taking any one for granted, not leaving any one unobserved,” he said.

Fred W. Baker III (AFPS)

Cyber Attacks From China Show Computers Insecure, Pentagon Says

August 9, 2008

Cyber attacks originating within China have exposed vulnerabilities in U.S. military computer systems that “increase the urgency” for improvements, according to a top Pentagon official.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, in a 70-page request sent to Congress July 11, asked to shift $1.8 billion in approved spending to other programs, including computer security, reports Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg.com.

“Recent attacks from China on Department of Defense networks and systems increase the urgency to construct cyber systems” that can’t be penetrated, England said.

England said the Pentagon must develop its own technology. Building effective, secure systems for military command-and- control and sharing sensitive information between the military services and allies are requirements that “cannot be met with current commercial products,” he said.

Analysts said England’s statement is the Pentagon’s clearest public admission that its computers have been penetrated by China.

Read the entire article at Bloomberg.com

Army to Relax Information Controls to Keep Pace with Cyberspace

August 9, 2008

Cumbersome controls over information flow in the Army soon may be a thing of the past, as the service works to deliver its messages proactively in the fast-paced cyber world.

Instead of worrying about controlling what soldiers are saying, the Army needs to focus on rapidly getting their messages out into cyberspace, Army Col. Wayne Parks, director of computer network operations and electronic warfare at the Combined Arms Center in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., said in a teleconference with online journalists and “bloggers” in April.

In today’s electronic-warfare environment, Parks said, the Army needs to be able “to get the message out either before the enemy gets the message out, or be able to respond to the enemy as they’re putting the message out.”

The Army has a tendency to be reactive, he said, but the service now is looking at how it engages people with information differently from in the past.

Parks explained that, rather than trying to control what soldiers say, the Army is focusing on keeping the force informed with the facts. “We’re just looking to inform our folks well enough that when they say something, … they’re going to state the facts,” he said.

He estimated that 80 percent of the time the information soldiers provide directly is correct. So, the 20 percent risk of inaccuracies is worthwhile to maintain a proactive approach to online messaging, he said.

“As long as you’re aware of what’s being said, you can always correct the record,” Parks said, “or you can always inform people adequately to ensure that we … don’t stay on this reactive mode and don’t look at our soldiers and our leaders out there and mistrust them.”

Parks also said defending against cyber attacks on computer networks and systems is another key element of electronic warfare.

“There are attacks being made on our networks and our computer systems — whether it be hardware or software — from across the globe,” he said.

The Combined Arms Center is studying lessons learned from past attacks and is building new capabilities to defend against future attacks, Parks said.

Kristen Noel (AFPS)

Collaborative Process Guides Military’s Cyber-electronic Future

August 9, 2008
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Faced with a rapidly evolving and borderless technological landscape, the U.S. military is reaching out to government, academia and industry for help in developing capabilities for protecting the nation’s cyber infrastructure, an Army electronic warfare expert said Monday.Col. Wayne A. Parks outlined for military bloggers the broad effort under way to keep up with technological change and the resultant emerging threats to the United States’ defense.

Parks is Electronic Warfare Proponent director of computer network operations and Training and Doctrine Command capabilities manager for at the Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

The challenge is immense, Parks said, and research partnerships have been critical in framing the mission.

“Our understanding of the science of cyber-electronics is relatively immature at this point,” Parks said. “It includes the study of both the physical and the virtual.”

Part of the task is to ensure that the Army works through these concepts carefully and defines them in a way that doesn’t limit intellectual exploration of potential and emerging concepts or capabilities, he said.

In that exploration, the Army must balance evolving how the military thinks about cyber-electronics with continuing to develop capabilities for the operational front, he added.

“There’s been some tremendous things going on, especially in [Iraq and Afghanistan], where electronic warfare has helped in the operations and in limiting and reducing … the deaths in theater,” he said.

Operational requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially the need to defeat roadside bombs, spurred the Army to speed development of near-term solutions, Parks explained.

Simultaneous research and development has continued on mid- to long-term electronic warfare capabilities, he said, with the goal of keeping pace on both the tactical and strategic levels.

“Cyber-electronics could include or have distinct relationships between things that we call network operations, network warfare, computer network operations, space superiority, electronic warfare and the electromagnetic spectrum operations,” Parks said. “Each represents a different slice of the cyber-electronic continuum within which different capabilities must exist.”

At the strategic level, the Army’s two main responsibilities are maintaining its internal capabilities and networks to be able to deploy around the world and defending the United States’ borders and inside its borders, Parks explained.

But cyberspace has no distinct, physical borders, Parks said.

“There is no nation-state border where we’re talking now,” he explained. “There are nation-state sponsors, and we have to look at it in terms of nation-state sponsors, as well as those who are not nation-state sponsors — I might call them cyber-state sponsors — who are really developing on their own out there.”

The military is working with interagency partners to officially define its way ahead with regard to defending areas of the financial, travel and related industries that operate across nation-state and cyber-state boundaries, Parks said. The same collaborative approach applies to fielding technologies, he said, and the Army has developed the mind set of “go work with your sister services as they get things approved.”

One potential technology is what Parks described as “self-healing networks,” virtual worlds wherein the system can isolate a weak point and regenerate or repair itself without human intervention. These types of networks could stand up to cyber attacks, he said.