June 7, 2013
Protecting The Cyber Front Lines
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Facing constant attacks from Chinese hackers, the US military is gearing up for a high-tech battle to defend national secrets and American companies. According to Reuters, the cyber warfare arm of the military, Cyber Command, is packing its $358 million command center with another three to four thousand soldiers to ward off incoming assaults from China, Russia and elsewhere. Cyber Command is lead by Army General Keith Alexander, who told Reuters defending the nation against cyber attacks is only half of the battle.
"And not just on defense, but on both sides. You've got to have that."
As this is a new kind of warfare, the military doesn´t have many years of experience in training these soldiers. Many on the virtual frontline have picked up their specific set of skills while working as private citizens at IT companies, says General Alexander.
"Many are employed in technical fields like software development or systems engineering and have designed or engineered data systems — so they have a deep understanding of information networks and systems and their potential vulnerabilities,” said the General in an interview with dvidshub.net.
Though the Pentagon has more than once accused China´s military for launching cyber attacks against the US military and US companies, they´ve also been known to go on the offensive themselves. Stuxnet is the most obvious example of this kind of preemptive strike. The American military worked in collaboration with the Israeli military to develop a virus to infiltrate Iranian networks and destroy a nuclear enrichment plant. Even with this offensive move, American officials often discuss the vulnerabilities faced by the nation and have moved to protect the critical networks and infrastructures therein. Part of this includes the Cyber Command´s new Joint Operations Center, which will hold about 650 personal and plenty of computing power. This building is set to be completed in 2018 and will play host to citizens and soldiers alike – anyone the military feels would be useful in defending against cyber attacks.
"To be a good cyber warrior, you have to be thinking, ℠How is the attacker discovering what I'm doing? How are they working around it?' ... Cyber security really is a cat and mouse game," said Raphael Mudge in a statement to Reuters, explaining how Cyber Command will recruit these soldiers.
“That kind of thinking can't be taught. It has to be nurtured. There are too few who can do that."
In addition to building up a military force specifically designed to handle cyber threats and attacks, the US government is working to make peace with those who fight against us, namely China. US President Barack Obama and the president of the People´s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, are expected to discuss attacks against the US while at a summit in California. Officials from China have yet to claim any responsibility for attacks against the US government and American companies like the New York Times. Instead, China has turned the spotlight against the US, saying they receive more attacks from the US than from any other nation.
Following a report earlier this year that outlined which arm of China´s military was responsible for launching long-term attacks, activity all but ceased. Security company Mandiant released another report last month claiming that activity is once again on the rise, as these hackers have begun to rebuild their arsenal, use some new tactics, and go on the offensive once more.