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Brave New World War
Is America Prepared for Digital Conflict?

As we wrote in our list of the biggest losers of 2014, the victory of hacking spells trouble for you. Of course, that threat comes not only from attacks targeted at individuals, but attacks targeted at the state. Some recent news highlights just how dangerous these cyber attacks are becoming for national security: virtual assaults on the U.S. military are getting more and more common. The Hill reports:

The head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s software innovation division said in an interview broadcast Sunday night that cyberattacks against the U.S. military are increasing in frequency and sophistication.

Dan Kaufman, the head of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office in Arlington, Va., said on “60 Minutes” that cyberattacks against the U.S. military are common, occurring “every day.”

“The number of attacks is dramatically increasing,” he said.

“The sophistication of the attacks is increasing. … My job is not to wait for something catastrophic to happen and then say, ‘Oh, goodness, we should do something.’ My job is to say, ‘Hmm. I see this trend line going. I want to be way ahead of this line,’ ” he added.

Yet according to a report in Defense One, we are far from getting out ahead of this issue. The military’s Cyber Command has just half the personnel it says it needs:

The Pentagon is at the midway point of staffing a projected 6,000-person Cyber Command, officials said, amid fears of a catastrophic threat to U.S. networks.

The military appears to be backing away from a long-held goal of establishing a full force by 2016. […]

As recently as August, Defense officials said the aim was to position 6,000 people in Cyber Command by 2016. The military has gained around 1,000 information security experts since January 2014, when officials said 2,000 professionals were in place. […]

A 2015 national security strategy the White House issued on Friday states that “the danger of disruptive and even destructive cyberattack is growing.”

George Orwell is often misquoted as having said, “We sleep soundly in our beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf.” In the modern world, perhaps we should update it to “We sleep soundly in our beds only because nerds sit ready to do coding on our behalf.” Yet with DARPA issuing dire warnings and the Pentagon unable to staff its online army, it isn’t entirely clear that we should be sleeping soundly at all.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    They’re not “nerds” when they are guarding our castle and countryside. There is really no limit to the needs in this area.

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