US Cyber Command gets new teeth for online warfare

Jan 28, 2013
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The US Cyber Command division, the Pentagon's cybersecurity team established to tackle a new age of digital threats, will be considerably expanded with new specialists in both offensive and defensive technologies, the Defense Department has confirmed. A trio of task-forces will be established, populated with a fresh intake of experts, with the division "constantly looking to recruit, train, and retain world class cyberpersonnel" a spokesperson told the NYTimes. Recent attacks on US infrastructure left the Defense Department convinced that it needed to bolster its own forces.

The three new divisions will deal with more traditional issues of security, as well as toughening up defenses around US infrastructure. The "cyber protection forces" will be responsible for keeping the Pentagon's own systems secured, while the "national mission forces" will play a similar role for broader infrastructure, such as the US power grid and other essential components vital to keeping the country moving.

Finally, the "combat mission forces" team will take a more proactive role in warfare, planning and executing attacks. The three new divisions are the handiwork of Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who has previously made ominous public warnings suggesting that cyberterrorism will be the next significant war the US will face. Last year, he coined the term "cyber-Pearl Harbor" to describe an unexpected digital strike on US government and infrastructure.

China, Russia, Iran, and other militant groups have been singled out as potential aggressors, with security officials saying that web-based battles have already commenced; it's not always clear whether attacks are government-sanctioned or initiated by independent groups. Back in July 2011, the Pentagon confirmed it was treating cyberspace as an operational domain, just as it does land, air, and sea.


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