US and Cyber Proactivity

September 15, 2020

Kinetic assaults on the United States still pose a great risk, but even greater threats exist in digital spaces. Hacking, malware, viruses, and more could potentially damage the American way of life more than a physical attack. The Star Tribune reports that, “Military’s Top Cyber Official Defends More Aggressive Stance” on attacks taking place in the Internet. General Paul Nakasone defends the more aggressive stance, because the military has become more proactive in order to defeat sophisticated threats.

Nakasone stated that instead of having a “reactive, defensive posture” that military is meeting foreign adversaries online. Instead of waiting to be attacked, the military investigates potential threats and takes necessary action to stop them. Two examples of taking offensive action are:

“As an example, Nakasone cited a mission from last October in which Cyber Command dispatched an elite team of experts to Montenegro to join forces with the tiny Balkan state, which was targeted by Russia-linked hackers. The “hunt forward” mission not only helped defend an ally but was also an opportunity for the U.S. to improve its own cyber defenses before the 2020 election, Nakasone wrote. Cyber Command and NSA worked before the 2018 U.S. midterm election to protect against Russian meddling, he said, creating a task force that shared information about potential compromises and other threats, including how to counter trolls on social media.”

Arguably this prevented interferences in the US midterm elections and the plans are to prevent more possible threats for the 2020 presidential election.

Cyber Command was established in 2010 to defend against cyber attacks on the Department of Defense’s classified and unclassified networks. Cyber Command’s offensive strategy has changed from its original purpose to “proactively hunt for adversary malware on our own networks rather than simply waiting for an intrusion to be identified.” Cyber Command also shares information on malware as its discovered so its less of a threat.

Inaction often leads to attacks that could be avoided. If Cyber Command does nothing, then when an attack occurs people are upset. However, if Cyber Command is on the offensive it is seen as unnecessary aggression by certain parties. It is a catch-22, but also not.

Whitney Grace, September 15, 2020


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