Risk

Auditors Find DoD Hasn't Defined Cyber Warfare

Defense Department says it does not plan to provide doctrine for hybrid warfare -- which includes cyber attacks -- because of the diversity of the category.




Slideshow: Next Generation Defense Technologies
(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)
The Department of Defense (DoD) does not have clear principles for defending against cyber attacks because it has not defined the type of warfare they constitute, according to the government's watchdog agency.

Senior military officials have repeatedly testified before Congress that the United States is likely to have adversaries practicing "hybrid warfare" tactics, which will include attacks on computer networks and other forms of technology, more commonly known as cyber attacks or cyber warfare.

However, the DoD has not clearly defined what it means by hybrid warfare and "has no plans to do so because DoD does not consider it a new form of warfare," according to a recent report by the General Accountability Office (GAO).

The audit, conducted between January and September 2010, found that from 2008 to 2010, senior military officials used "hybrid warfare" to characterize methods of war used by U.S. adversaries in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The term is used to describe not just cyber attacks, but also attacks by biological, nuclear, radiological, and chemical weapons; improvised explosive devices; and information and media manipulation, among other forms of attacks.

Because of the diversity and range of attacks included in its reference to hybrid attacks, however, the DoD said that to define the meaning of the term "risks omitting key and unforeseen elements."

The military plans to use the term merely to describe the "increasing complexity of conflict that will require a highly adaptable and resilient response from U.S. forces, and not to articulate a new form of warfare," according to the GAO.

Even if the DoD has not clearly defined the category of warfare it puts cyber attacks in, the U.S. military is preparing to defend critical infrastructure against these attacks.

The Pentagon has recognized cyberspace as a new domain in warfare, and three out of the five branches of the U.S. military -- Navy, Air Force, and Marines -- have set up command centers specifically to defend against cyber attacks. The Army's cyber command is expected to be operational in the next several weeks.

The military branch's specific cyber commands will coordinate efforts and report to the U.S. Cyber Command, led by National Security Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander.

The United States set up the cyber command last year to coordinate computer network defenses and to direct U.S. cyber-attack operations after repeated attacks on DoD networks.

Speaking recently at the Gov 2.0 Summit, produced by O'Reilly Media and UBM TechWeb in Washington, Alexander said that there are 250,000 probes trying to find their way into DoD networks every hour, and cyber attacks on federal agencies have increased 150% since 2008.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Crowdsourced vs. Traditional Pen Testing
Alex Haynes, Chief Information Security Officer, CDL,  3/19/2019
New Mirai Version Targets Business IoT Devices
Dark Reading Staff 3/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Reading Schneier's Friday Squid Blog again?
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
The State of Cyber Security Incident Response
The State of Cyber Security Incident Response
Organizations are responding to new threats with new processes for detecting and mitigating them. Here's a look at how the discipline of incident response is evolving.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-6149
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-18
An unquoted search path vulnerability was identified in Lenovo Dynamic Power Reduction Utility prior to version 2.2.2.0 that could allow a malicious user with local access to execute code with administrative privileges.
CVE-2018-15509
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-18
Five9 Agent Desktop Plus 10.0.70 has Incorrect Access Control (issue 2 of 2).
CVE-2018-20806
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-17
Phamm (aka PHP LDAP Virtual Hosting Manager) 0.6.8 allows XSS via the login page (the /public/main.php action parameter).
CVE-2019-5616
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-15
CircuitWerkes Sicon-8, a hardware device used for managing electrical devices, ships with a web-based front-end controller and implements an authentication mechanism in JavaScript that is run in the context of a user's web browser.
CVE-2018-17882
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-15
An Integer overflow vulnerability exists in the batchTransfer function of a smart contract implementation for CryptoBotsBattle (CBTB), an Ethereum token. This vulnerability could be used by an attacker to create an arbitrary amount of tokens for any user.