(National Sentinel) Cyberwar: Many military strategists see the cyber realm as the next major area of conflict, given that modern states have become so dependent on computer networks for survival.
Given that, U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Rogers, head of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, told a congressional panel Tuesday that foreign nations are working diligently to improve their cyber war capabilities and would likely use them against the U.S. in any future conflict.
As reported by the Washington Free Beacon:
Foreign nations’ cyber intrusions into key infrastructure network are preparation for damaging attacks in a future conflict, the commander of Cyber Command told Congress Tuesday.
…Rogers…said one of his major concerns is cyber attacks on critical infrastructures used to run the electric grid, financial systems, communications networks, the transportation systems, and others.
“We assess that several countries, including Iran, have conducted disruptions or remote intrusions into critical infrastructure systems in the United States,” Rogers said in his prepared statement.
Iranian hackers were linked to cyber disruptions of U.S. financial institutions last year, and Russian-linked BlackEnergy malware was used in cyber attacks against Ukraine’s electrical power systems.
Homeland Security also has warned U.S. critical infrastructure administrators to be alert for the use of BlackEnergy cyber attacks here.
“Infiltrations in U.S. critical infrastructure—when viewed in the light of incidents like these—can look like preparations for future attacks that could be intended to harm Americans, or at least to deter the United States and other countries from protecting and defending our vital interests,” Rogers said.
Cyber Command officials are hopeful that the private sector will share telemetry data used by infrastructure monitors so that hack attacks can be quickly detected and defended.
Rogers said one critical area where infrastructure disruption would harm military operations is the island of Guam, which is a major military hub.
“The pace of international conflict and cyberspace threats has intensified over the past few years,” Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We face a growing variety of advanced threats from actors who are operating with ever more sophistication and precision.”
Rogers added that the Pentagon, at the direction of the Trump administration, is working on a new cyber strategy and policy, and that it is expected soon.
“Cyber war is not some future concept or cinematic spectacle, it is real and here to stay,” Rogers said.
“The fact that it is not killing people yet, or causing widespread destruction, should be no comfort to us as we survey the threat landscape. Conflict in the cyber domain is not simply a continuation of kinetic operations by digital means, nor is it some science fiction clash of robot armies. It is unfolding according to its own logic, which we are continuing to better understand.”
This said, the United States has one of the most potent – if not the most potent – offensive cyber warfare capability in the world. The difference is, the populations of many of our enemies are not as reliant on power grids as are Americans.