Feeds

US Military cyber forces on the defensive in network battle

Operation Screaming Whimpering Fist

Seven Steps to Software Security

The US 24th Air Force - the first dedicated American military cyber force to go operational - is "not yet a warfighting organisation" and needs to "create an awareness of the battlespace", according to its commander.

Major-General Richard Webber, a former nuclear-missile and satellite-jamming officer, took over the 24th in August. Speaking at a recent symposium in Los Angeles, the cyber general indicated that America's uniformed netwar forces have some way to go before they're ready to put digital boot to network ass.

“We need to know how to set up and defend the enterprise. It’s going to be a crawl/walk/run process,” said Webber, quoted by Aerospace Daily and Defense Report. “We’re under attack literally every day."

The 24th's main base at Lackland in Texas, which will cover 50,000 square feet, is still being built and equipped with its panoply of fearful cyber weaponry. It's set to be complete and manned up by some thousands of netwar specialists late next year.

Under Webber's command are two main units, the mainly defensive 688th Information Operations Wing (formerly known as the Air Force Information Operations Center) and the doing-unto-others outfit, the 67th Network Warfare Wing. The 67th has a subsidiary role in doing tiger-team mock attacks against US networks to test their defences, but its main purpose is "computer network exploitation and attack".

For now though, Webber's main focus seems to be on holding back the constant raids and meddling directed at US military networks, rather than taking the fight to the enemy - whoever that may prove to be.

Webber's boss, General Kevin Chilton, spoke of a "massive" cyber attack against the Pentagon nets last year, which was apparently a major reason for the formation of the 24th.

“One year ago this month we had a wake-up call in cyberspace," said the general. "We had a severe intrusion into the Defense networks. It changed the way people are thinking about cyberspace. This time it’s everybody’s problem — every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine."

It seems that at present, US military sysadmins are often forced to respond to cyberstrikes by simply disconnecting from the wider net - but this could have severe consequences on real-world operations if the timing were bad, and senior officers are keen to do better.

"We must learn to fight through an attack," says Webber.

The Aerospace Daily and Defense Report piece is here. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.