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The Cyber Defense Review


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Better Anticipating and Managing Today’s Growing Cyber Risks

November 14, 2022 — We live in an increasing cyber enabled world where more of our lives are monitored, assessed, and controlled by forces and decisions that function largely in the background and with little appreciation for the risks that we assume as a result. Absent fundamental rethinking as to how we incorporate Information Age technologies into the fabric of our daily lives, we will increasingly find ourselves reaching a point of no return as more complex technologies such as AI and greater ubiquity of cyber technologies inherent in the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to proliferate in cyberspace. To manage these technologies, we still rely on organizations and processes rooted in the 18th century to confront threats that move across the globe in milliseconds. It is no wonder that we find ourselves in a defensive battle and in a position of great disadvantage. MORE

Russian Cyber Operations in the Invasion of Ukraine

November 14, 2022 — In March 2021, Russia began to deploy large numbers of troops and armaments near the Russia-Ukraine border in what Western observers believed posed an invasion threat to Ukraine, which Russia strongly denied. An intense debate in the West ensued over whether the troops were being deployed to pressure Ukraine into making political concessions or to conduct an actual invasion. Noting previous Russian offensive cyber operations against Ukraine starting as early as 2014, many cyber analysts and scholars predicted that an invasion would be accompanied by significant cyberattacks on Ukraine and possibly on Western nations supporting Ukraine, including particularly the US. For example, Maggie Miller wrote in Politico that “in a full-scale cyber assault [on Ukraine], Russia could take down the power grid, turn the heat off in the middle of winter and shut down Ukraine’s military command centers and cellular communications systems.”1 Samuel Charap of the RAND Corporation thought the most likely Russian response to Western economic sanctions would be a cyber operation that temporarily shut down some major Western banks. MORE

Tactics and Technicalities Undermining Strategy: Cyber Security is Distracting National Security Communities

November 14, 2022 — National security communities cannot protect all their information. Yet the exigencies of cyber security and identified network vulnerabilities are trumping more strategic consideration of information protection, and national security communities have found it difficult to adhere to clear and defensible information protection principles. A more strategic approach would focus on identifying and prioritizing the most important organizational information; a defense that aligns information security resources to the most important information, with a clear view of the actions needed to protect against the intelligence capabilities of strategic competitors; and, established mechanisms for situations when preventive security measures will so often fall short, which include standing deception plans and well-coordinated reparative measures. Without defensible principles, the immense cyber security investments being made will not have the desired information security effect. MORE

Cyber-Physical Coordinated Attacks: The Emerging Complexity of Crisis Management

November 14, 2022 — It is conceivable and probable that today’s adversaries have contemplated and recruited for event scenarios in which a physical crisis is pre-ignited by a series of more carefully orchestrated cyber incidents. As extremist groups grow bolder and attract younger more technology-astute prospects, there will be a convergence where both logical and physical attacks methods are used in concert towards a singular goal. These will be much more complex and targeted than the typical diversionary tactics we are prepared for today. This new breed of threat is multi-modal; it takes advantage of the operational silos between organizations, whether those are departments within a corporation, supply chains or competitors across an industry, regional government agencies across a nation, or multiple governing nations across a global coalition. Planning such complex executions requires extremely intimate knowledge of the disparate targets and their relationships. MORE

The Impending Data Literacy Crisis Among Military Leaders

November 14, 2022 — You would be hard pressed to find a room full of office typists in any present-day corporate setting. Office typists (who reached an apex in the mid-20th century) employed fast typing skills, a mastery of language and grammar, and the ability to take real-time dictation through shorthand.1 However, with the advent of personal computers and email, the speed of business required leaders to improve their own typing and communication skills. Those that embraced these skills quickly outperformed those that failed to adapt. Today, office typists are obsolete; their skills are now integral to everyone in an organization. Similarly, today’s business leaders rely on teams of data scientists to manage, analyze, and model large amounts of data to inform decisions. Will data scientists one day sustain a fate similar to office typists? It may be too early to make such a prediction. Nonetheless, to compete in the near-future global market, leaders–military and civilian alike–will need to adapt these skills and become data literate with deep knowledge of data capabilities. MORE

Contract AI Risk Engine (CARE) to Reduce Cyber Contracting Risk

November 14, 2022 — The Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) established the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) to consider the methods and means necessary to advance development of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and other associated technologies to address America’s national security concerns. NSCAI’s final report to the President and Congress identified areas of weakness that the federal government must address to elevate data security as a national security priority. NSCAI recommended the federal government implement a security development lifecycle approach for AI systems, prioritize data privacy and security considerations as part of larger efforts to strengthen foreign investment screening and supply chain intelligence and risk management, and integrate national security considerations into efforts to legislate and regulate data protection and privacy. MORE

Leveraging the Ontology of the Operational Cyber Mission Stack (OCMS)

November 14, 2022 — This article aims to identify and clarify a hierarchical construct used by defensive cyberspace planners and operators to aid in mission decomposition, assurance, and terrain mapping. The model enables the visualization of complex relationships and equities between cyberspace assets, resources, and warfighting missions. At a time when so many Department of Defense mission-essential tasks and functions are cyber enabled, it is more critical now than ever that we strive to model the highly complex cyberspace operational environment in an understandable and useful way. Modeling is a practical means to take logical components of cyberspace, tether them to physical assets, and illuminate how they ultimately support missions. We can then prioritize mission-critical systems and capabilities, organize the defense of those cyberspace elements, and gain confidence we are defending the right things at the right time. While this model is conceptual, it represents a first step toward automating cyberspace terrain mapping that will enable defensive cyber planners and DODIN Cyberspace Forces to respond to the dynamic, man-made terrain that makes up the cyber operational environment. MORE

The UN Cyber Norms: How Do They Guide the Responsible Development and Use of Offensive Cyber Capabilities?

November 14, 2022 — In this article, I review how the international cybersecurity norms, agreed to in 2015 and reaffirmed in 2021 by the member countries of the United Nations (UN), provide guidance to states on their possession and use of offensive cyber capabilities. This is an important exploration given that UN negotiations have reached a provisional climax, and that more states, ranging from major cyber powers to developing cyber nations, are getting involved with offensive cyber activities. I consider the 11 UN norms and extract the specific guidance they offer both to states that conduct offensive cyber operations and to states who have been attacked by offensive cyber activities. Then, I consider the various types of cyber operations that could affect international peace and security before looking at ways through which governments, international bodies and communities of non-governmental organizations can support observance of the UN norms. Finally, I assert that responsible forms of offensive cyber will not be for all states, and that raising the bar – including through the UN norms – benefits all major cyber powers. MORE

Why the United States Must Win the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Race

November 14, 2022 — An increasingly urgent debate rages in many circles about the “Artificial Intelligence (AI) Arms Race” rapidly progressing on a global scale. Among many unanswered questions, one is of particular interest to the United States (US) government: Where does the US stand in this race relative to China? This question is critical because the AI Arms Race “winner” will dominate how AI impacts myriad aspects of human society worldwide. For the US to lead the AI race, it will require a conscious partnership among public, private, and academic sectors, and a strategic alignment with our allies. Our relative position as a world leader, our relative position as an economic leader, and our standing as a moral force for all people’s good and ethical treatment are at risk. MORE

How China’s Cyber Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic Worsened the United States Biodefense and National Security

November 14, 2022 — Until 2020, biological warfare seemed like a remote threat to military operations and national security. Then, in March 2020, the novel SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) emerged and forced the world, including the Department of Defense (DoD), to acknowledge the calamitous potential of deadly virus pandemics. The United States 2018 National Biodefense Strategy (NBS) warns of the need to enhance biological threat responses to prevent such detrimental effects.1 It highlights the natural, isolated outbreaks of Systemic Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Ebola, and Zika viruses as potential agents on which clandestine bioweapon programs or terrorist groups seeking such programs could capitalize. The NBS outlines a plan to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats, providing defense and deterrence strategies to avert bioweapon use on American civilians or military personnel. A nation with a strong biological defense decreases its population’s vulnerability to pathogens with aggressive exposure mitigation and effective treatment measures, which thereby increase the nation’s resiliency to public health crises. Such defense capabilities change an adversary’s cost-benefit balance so that it avoids initiating a biological attack, providing deterrence from future threats. The success of these response strategies requires cooperation among government, medical, public health personnel, and the general population. MORE

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