Last week the Pentagon detailed the most serious cyber-attack on U.S. national security to date. Was WWIII just declared?
Intruders crossed the line in March by stealing over 24,000 classified design documents from a government contractor, according to Pentagon disclosures last week. This promoted the U.S. Cyber Command to go on the offensive.
Cyber-space began as a way for citizens to "connect, socialize and organize themselves," according to the "Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace." Now, however, over 2 billion global users share cyber-space with over 15,000 U.S. Department of Defense networks and 7 million computing devices at hundreds of installations in dozens of countries worldwide, resulting in millions of daily probes and the theft of thousands of classified documents yearly.
U.S. Cyber Command will coordinate U.S. security efforts within each branch of the military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.In March, one of these groups went over a red line, spurring the DOD to announce to the world that it will henceforth retaliate with active systems that detect intruders and relentlessly track them down in cyber-space.
"Foreign intelligence organizations have already acquired the capacity to disrupt elements of DOD’s information infrastructure," according to the DOD "Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace." Henceforth, DOD will "organize, train and equip for cyber-space as we do in air, land, maritime and space to support national security interests [in which] a cornerstone of this activity will be the inclusion of cyber red teams throughout war games and exercises [to develop an] active cyber-defense capability to prevent intrusions onto DOD networks and systems."
While WWIII was not officially declared, the DOD has put foreign governments and civilians on notice, warning DOD insiders in particular that henceforth they will suffer the "imposition of higher costs for malicious activity." The DOD "Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace" openly endorsed integrated offensive operations meant to disrupt the planning and execution of planned attacks, including the use of honeypot code to circumvent anonymity in order to track down attackers and stop their activities. During war-game scenarios cyber-attackers whose physical location has been identified can thus be dealt with by conventional forces.
"Active cyber-defense is DOD’s synchronized, real-time capability to discover, detect, analyze and mitigate threats and vulnerabilities...it operates at network speeds by using sensors, software, and intelligence to detect and stop malicious activity before it can affect DOD networks and systems...these efforts will include development and integration in the areas of mobile media and secure cloud computing," according to the DOD document.