The Cyber Cold War

The US military’s computer networks are vulnerable to attack and the Defense Department’s reliance on “inherently insecure” information technology architectures to support them acts as “a magnet to US opponents,” reported the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board. A DSB task force’s 18-month study found that “the cyber threat is serious and that the United States cannot be confident” that its critical IT systems would work “under attack from a sophisticated and well-resourced opponent.” Already, DOD and its contractor base have “sustained staggering losses of system design information incorporating decades of combat knowledge and experience,” states the report, which is dated January 2013, but the Pentagon only recently released publicly. The task force called for DOD to take the lead in increasing confidence in the IT systems utilized in the public and private sector in order to “decrease a would-be attacker’s confidence.” One recommendation to mitigate the threat of a debilitating cyber attack is to segment a portion of conventional forces at “the highest level of cyber resiliency at an affordable cost” to serve as a “cyber-critical survivable mission” force, such as “20 aircraft designated by tail number, out of a fleet of hundreds” of strike platforms. (DSB full report; caution, large-sized file.)