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FW: *ICN - Cyber-Arsenal Needs Testing

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  • Robert W. Miller
    Cyber-Arsenal Needs Testing BY: DAVID A. FULGHUM and ROBERT WALL Air Intelligence Agency, now part of the Air Force s combat strike force, is deeply immersed
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 12, 2001
      Cyber-Arsenal Needs Testing
      BY: DAVID A. FULGHUM and ROBERT WALL

      Air Intelligence Agency, now part of the Air Force's combat strike force, is
      deeply immersed in the task of learning to fight with information as a
      weapon.

      Information warfare, along with dozens of other technologies, involves enemy
      computer network attacks. The exact methodology is among the nation's most
      closely guarded secrets. It assumes the premier place occupied by stealth 20
      years ago. However, Air Force officials can talk about the importance of the
      technology and how it might be applied.

      Surprisingly, little offensive importance is assigned to such well-known
      brute force applications as viruses, spamming or worms. The Pentagon's
      efforts seem focused on weapons capable of producing very well-defined
      effects that won't cascade into national computer systems to disrupt
      industries or banking systems. Mostly, they are designed to go undetected by
      an adversary.

      ''If you want a show of force to prove you can deny something of value, I
      can reach out and pick out some capability that hurts with no collateral
      damage and no loss of life,'' said Col. David Stinson, vice commander of the
      Air Force Information Warfare Center. ''That makes [information warfare] a
      big and valuable player in that period [before combat begins]. The goal is
      for things that deter a conflict or shape conditions that might produce an
      agreement. Information operations create that kind of leverage.''

      Clues from research projects indicate that Britain, Sweden, the U.S., Russia
      and other countries have been working on high-powered microwave pulse
      weapons that can be delivered by artillery shells or unmanned aerial
      vehicles. Computer algorithms are being developed to infiltrate and search
      computer databases in various languages for specific pieces of information.
      Systems that can be mounted in either manned or unmanned aircraft can tap
      into enemy computers through microwave links. U.S. operators have been able
      to read enemy e-mail and insert false messages and targets into foreign air
      defense systems for a number of years.

      Last year, U.S. Space Command was assigned the overarching responsibility
      for computer network defense and attack including the oversight of such
      technology development. One of its initial tasks was to collect and
      prioritize requirements for cyber-weapons. That has been done and the
      requirements are being validated.

      ''There are classified, laboratory-like organizations that do this kind of
      verification,'' said a defense official familiar with the Pentagon's
      information operations capability. ''There is some chaos in the environment
      right now with some organizations doing work that doesn't link directly to
      the Space Command [needs]. One of its challenges is to find out who's doing
      this work and bring order to it. As you can imagine, you spend months
      working each requirement to find out what the user really wants. There are
      more than 100 [ideas] for information warfare weapons out there, and I would
      say 98 of them don't have sufficient intelligence. They can't say that a
      particular country has 'X' computer code running on 'Y' computer. Often,
      they are indigenously built computers using locally written software. Since
      it is so difficult to classify and detail the computer environment, it's
      equally hard to define the weapon to use against it.''

      Aiding the development of such weaponry is the proliferation of
      off-the-shelf high-speed processors and computers with huge memories. On the
      upside, this rapid pace appears to be forcing the alignment of U.S.
      development efforts at classified research laboratories, intelligence
      agencies and the operational military.

      ''The kind of war we fight in the future will probably be of short duration
      and conducted with great precision and in a tight timeframe,'' said Maj.
      Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of the Air Force's Air Intelligence Agency.
      ''The Air Force [includes] information warfare, particularly as it applies
      to defensive and offensive counter-information operations. We're normalizing
      new kinds of warfare and establishing principles for both defense and
      attack.''

      Therefore, it's crucial to get the wraps off information warfare tools and
      get operational planners comfortable with the new technology.

      ''IO [information operations] is not just [highly classified] special access
      programs,'' Wright said. ''IO unleashed is actually IO better integrated. We
      can't keep everything behind the green door [of classification]. We have to
      pull out the right pieces, for example, the weapons effects that might go
      along with a special access program. You need that for planning. Or, a
      deception technique doesn't have to be so highly classified that no one
      knows about it. There will always be secrets, but we want to operationalize
      those capabilities more through exercises and training. We want to take IO
      off the [briefing] slides and make it real.''

      Several circumstances make this a difficult job. Technology is changing so
      quickly that traditional development cycles for new weapon systems don't
      work. Enemy command-and-control systems, for example, can quickly be adapted
      with advances in computer systems, cell phone networks, new encryption
      devices and the Internet. And, frequencies can be shifted quickly through
      the HF, UHF and VHF bands to further confuse attackers.

      ''THE OLD SA-2 [ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILE], as operated by the Soviet Union, had
      one primary operating frequency and one war reserve mode,'' Wright said. If
      the U.S. knew the two frequencies, they could jam and evade the system.
      ''Now those war reserve modes can be unlimited.''

      The problem ripples throughout IO for which the U.S. must produce tactics
      and procedures, deception techniques and operational security plans that
      counter rapidly developing computer technologies devised to protect enemy
      systems and attack the U.S. To forestall any technological missteps, AIA has
      adopted a building block approach.

      ''I haven't focused on [operational fielding of] computer network attack or
      cyberwar because I don't think there's a silver bullet there that would
      completely take down an integrated air defense network system, or attack the
      power and light structure for a whole country,'' Wright said. However, he
      added that this could change if some of the cyberwarfare tools under
      development start to mature. ''There are opportunities for [IW] to leverage
      traditional military operations to make them more decisive,'' he said.

      To sell the viability of information operations, AIA has assigned an
      information warfare flight of about 30 specialists to each major command and
      numbered Air Force.

      ''YOU HAVE TO PUSH THIS TECHNOLOGY and advertise it,'' Wright stressed. ''If
      they are in the battleroom, they're offering plans and options every day. It
      avoids the situation of having the air tasking order already put together
      before you hear [intelligence] plans for deception or special information
      projects. I don't care how great the technology or weapon is, if it's not
      there everyday [for training], it's not going to be used [in wartime].''

      Despite the legal and technical uncertainties, these pioneers in information
      warfare predict the vagaries of the new discipline would be resolved quickly
      if there were a national emergency. Senior officials have developed a
      ''special technical operations'' approval process.

      ''I think the entire community realizes if there were a crisis, somehow we
      would come up with a plan that would permit warfighters to go to the
      national command authority for permission to execute computer network
      [operations],'' said Army Col. David Kirk, deputy commander of the Joint
      Information Operations Center at Kelly AFB, Tex. ''And, they would feel
      comfortable with the rules of engagement that delegate authority to
      subordinate commanders.'' Even so, there are concerns. ''We haven't matured,
      weaponized or exercised the capability in sufficient fidelity or
      repetitiveness to have the whole system in place today,'' he said.
      URL: http://www.aviationnow.com

      GRAPHIC: Table, Photograph: Teams of Air Force specialists are trained to
      immediately locate and respond to computer network attacks by a range of
      intruders from high school hackers to state-sponsored electronic terrorists.
      However, they admit there could be attacks so sophisticated they go
      undetected.

      Aviation Week & Space Technology
      February 26, 2001

      Bob Miller
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