Cyber Defense Review

Recent Articles

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Economic Ethics: A Case for Applying the Ethics of Sanctions to Cyber Conflict

March 21, 2016 — Cyber conflict is a growing alternative and supplement to traditional armed conflict. Recent scholarship has sought to apply the traditional ethics of war, Michael Walzer’s just war theory of jus ad bellum and jus in bello, to this novel form of combat. Yet, this framework does not apply perfectly. Cyber conflict presents challenges to the jus in bello principle of distinction, among others, which makes utilizing any form of cyber attack as unethical; yet, naively cyber conflict can be far more humane, and thus more ethical, than traditional war. An extension of just war theory to more accurately guide economic sanctions, the humanitarian proviso, can replace the standard principle of distinction and create a more accurate moral framework for cyber conflict. MORE

Big Data is Dead, Long Live Big Data

March 10, 2016 — The Gartner Hype Cycle, which assigns emerging technologies into 5 regions: Innovation Trigger, Peak of Inflated Expectations, Trough of Disillusionment, Slope of Enlightenment and Plateau of Productivity. In 2014, Big Data was at the edge of the Peak of Inflated Expectations, where the hype has already generated an enormous amount of goodwill through amazing success stories, and on a descent towards the Trough of Disillusionment, where the rate of new successes relative to the Peak creates a depressed sense of its novelty. Big Data fell off the chart in 2015. MORE

Sticks and Stones – Training for Tomorrow’s War Today

March 1, 2016 — ‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.’ – Albert Einstein Technology is great, when it works the way we want it to. Over the last couple years it seems the ever-mounting stream of hacks could leave even the most stoic of technologists cringing. As researchers at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point, our task is to be forward thinking and anticipate the hill after next. We are one part of the Army’s robust effort to address cyberspace issues of today and tomorrow. Along with our cross-service and cross-agency partners we are making progress: we are working our way through a highly disruptive era in technology and politics to find solutions ensuring the security of the United States. At the same time, as we step forward into the complexity of a fully integrated future, we must not lose sight as a military of the fundamentals of fighting and defending the security and interests of the nation. The more the tools and gadgets of modern warfare are challenged by state and non-state actors, the more critical it becomes that our men and women in uniform maintain the fundamental skills of warriors from previous generations. MORE

Battlefield Asymmetric Robotic Threat

February 24, 2016 — Despite being unmatched technologically on the battlefield, low-cost, asymmetric threats have proven dangerous for US military forces. The proliferation of IEDs (of all types) in the Iraqi and Afghan theaters demonstrated that inexpensive, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology can impact US high tech operations. Robots have the potential to provide a similar destructive impact on our forces given their wide availability including powerful, open-source software, which has been illustrated recently with ISIS coupling IEDs with ‘driver-free’ vehicles.[1] MORE

The Inevitable Militarization of Artificial Intelligence

February 8, 2016 — 2015 proved a watershed year for artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Such advanced computing innovations can power autonomous weapons that can identify and strike hostile targets. AI researchers have expressed serious concerns about the catastrophic consequences of such military applications. DoD policy forbids the use of autonomous weapons for targeting human beings. At the same time, advances in remotely operated weapons like drones have geographically separated decision-makers from their weapons at distances measured in thousands of miles. This paper explores how advances in remotely piloted aircraft alongside evolving cyber threats converge to create considerable incentive to field autonomous weapons. To retain human executive control, military operators rely on communications links with semi-autonomous systems like RPA. As adversaries develop an anti-access/area denial operational approach, they will field new electronic/cyber capabilities to undermine the US military’s technological superiority. The data link between RPA and human beings is vulnerable to disruption. Cyber threats against RPA systems will entice militaries to develop autonomous weapon systems that can accomplish their mission without human supervision. MORE

Revolutions in Technology: A Consideration of the Role of Iterative Improvement in Warfare

February 1, 2016 — Part of the dialog and debate about cyber security and warfare concerns the question about whether cyber exploits become obsolete in the course of their first use. While the question centers on whether vulnerabilities can be patched immediately following their initial identification, the issue also carries implications regarding the iterative improvement of technologies. Actual battle experience, the presence of functional feedback loops, and dedication to improvement pave the way for iterative advances to keep pace ahead of changing challenges and environments. It is this iterative cycle that sometimes leads to rapid cumulative advances and effectively “revolutionary” effects, and this is actually part of a pattern that can be identified through historical study. In this case study, the revolutions of the chambers in Samuel Colt’s progressively improving firearms of the 1830s and 1840s provide a window on the connection between iteration and revolution, a question that deserves continued attention and consideration when turning to security and warfare in the digital realm. MORE

In Cyber, Time is of the Essence

January 28, 2016 — Cyber is becoming increasing driven by automated process while humans are still operating at human speed. In my view, one of the major weaknesses in larger-scale cyber defense planning is the perception there is time to lead a cyber defense during attack. It is likely that a major attack is automated and premeditated. If it is automated, the systems will execute the attacks at computational speed. In that case no political or military leadership would be able to lead an effective defense for one simple reason – it has already happened before they react. MORE

Cybercrime and State-sponsored Cyber Operations

January 28, 2016 — Adversarial countries’ cybercrime and state sponsored cyber operations could easily be the same coin – just different views. The reason is very simple. Cyber criminals are specialists in luring people to disclose their secrets and open doors to user accounts to allow the perpetrator to use the access for their purposes. If a country adversarial to the US house cyber-criminal activity that targets the US -meanwhile the country itself pursued innovative ways to gather intelligence about the US it is likely that someone sees an opportunity. MORE

Ambiguous Deterrence

January 23, 2016 — The ratification of a pledge for joint defense in case of a major cyber-attack at the 2014 NATO Summit is a major step forward.Under this pledge a significant cyberattack on any NATO nation would be constitutive of anattack on all of them. While it is hoped that the vague framing and uncertain capabilities of each NATO member will facilitate deterrence through ambiguity, it should be noted that deterrence only works when that ambiguity is backed up by a command structure capable of a timely and organized response. MORE

People, Preparation, Process: The Three P’s to Integrate Cyber at the Tactical Level

January 19, 2016 — Integration of cyber and electromagnetic activities (CEMA) at the tactical level requires strategic thinking and planning. Current efforts, like Army Cyber’s Cyber Support to Corps and Below, are moving in the right direction but do not necessarily create the critical mass required for lasting effects. This paper seeks to provide a framework based on the people, the preparation, and the process of CEMA to successfully incorporate for tactical operations. Beginning with the people, this paper applies talent management concepts to put the right people with expertise, experience, and networks in the right job to start the conversation. Second, preparing those people and the staffs with whom they work for the integration furthers integration. Leadership must make sure the correct education supplements the experience of cyber planners combined with increased discussion of CEMA in Command and General Staff College is vital to preparing the force for the new domain. Finally, the only way to ensure complete integration is to change staff planning processes. Introducing METT-C2, with the second “C” for cyber, and emphasizing cyber key terrain in Mission Analysis, ritualizes cyber variables at the start of planning and guarantees integration in tactical staffs. MORE

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