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Army aware, wary of IT challenges

Army Cyber Command

Published: 03:41PM July 3rd, 2014

Army senior leaders contend that communications technology is being developed and put into use inside the Army before its vulnerability to cyberattacks has been fully evaluated.

The Association of the United States Army Institute of Land Warfare hosted a recent forum titled “The Future of Cyber in Support of Strategic Landpower.” Throughout panel discussions at the event, experts emphasized the current vulnerability to cyberattacks.

“Systems were built with no cyber security in mind at all,” said Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, commander, United States Army Cyber Command at the June 12 event. “Yet, we’ve got millions of these devices embedded throughout the Army.”

Randy Garrett, program manager of the Information Innovation Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency clarified the immediacy of the problem by contrasting the frequency of cyber threats with more conventional threats.

“When was the last major air battle? Vietnam?” he asked. “When was the last major cyberattack? Well, what time is it right now?”

As the U.S. military increases its dependence on information technology, threat of cyberattacks also increases.

“Every vehicle, every ship, every drone, every aircraft and, increasingly, every Soldier and Marine is a walking (target) covered with radios, covered with cameras, (and) interactive maps,” said Nathaniel Fick, Chief Executive Officer of Endgame, Inc.

Each panel member agreed, to a certain extent, that more focused research and development is necessary to maintain footing in the field of cyber warfare.

“We tend to think, I believe, of cyberattack in a much narrower way than we ought to,” said Garrett.

Multiple panel members discussed the importance of developing “cyber natives” — personnel who have been provided STEM-training in fields regarding cyber warfare.

“Amateur students in military tactics are finding the seams (in cyber defense) and exploiting them,” Garrett said, adding that such students have the potential to develop innovative cyber defense concepts if provided certain advanced training.

“If you look at the landscape right now, there are a lot of cyber security initiatives. But we don’t have a good model on which we say ‘we invest this’ and ‘we get this’ level of security out of it,” Cardon said.

Individuals working with cyber systems must be allowed the resources necessary to develop such technologies, Fick said. “Innovation tends not to happen on a timeline.”

While the panel recognized the prevalence of cyberattacks, they also stressed the complexity of cyber warfare and the extensive hours needed to research and develop technologies which are also constantly developing.