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The development of warfare cyberspace in the United States, part 3 – Modern Diplomacy

The US Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center, in collaboration with Texas-based Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), has developed a new Intrusion Detection System (IDS) to protect military ground vehicles from cyberattacks for more connected and automated self-propelled vehicle networks so as to achieve cyber resilience. The new IDS technology uses algorithms and fingerprints to detect anomalies in the communication systems embedded in ground combat vehicles. System algorithms will transmit information via the Controller Area Network (CAN) protocol to identify unknown or invalid nodes connected to the vehicle’s network.
The US Air Force has developed the anti-malware scanner software known as Whiddler. It is a multi-threaded, multi-process, cluster-capable software scanning application tool that performs static analysis on files. Its being multi-threated means that a process is divided into two or more strands (instances) or subprocesses that are concurrently executed by a single-processor (monothreading) or by a multiprocessor (multithreading). After completing the file observations, the software calculates the probability that the file is malicious or not malicious. The threshold level can be adjusted by the user.
Whiddler transfers the software to the private sector through a patent license agreement. Its major advantages are the following: no risk of infection with static analysis; no reliance on signature updates to maintain accuracy; 95% malware detection rate. Its major features include flexible and scalable deployment; file analysis and scoring using proprietary patented algorithms; strict detection or training mode; remote network-based monitoring and reporting; easy incorporation of new file types.
In February 2022 the U.S. Marine Corps sought to support a pilot program through user monitoring and corporate network control capabilities aimed at increasing the understanding of unauthorized disclosures and breaches of sensitive data on DOD networks. According to the release, the Marine Corps needs large capabilities to find and assess anomalous activity on classified and unclassified networks. The document released states that at least five technical requirements must be met: 1. keystroke monitoring; 2. full application content (such as email and chat); 3. screen capture; 4. file tracking; and 5. user data tracking. The functionality must also focus on seven methods of intrusion: 1. connecting to the network; 2. privilege escalation; 3. connecting to the target system; 4. creating a file share; 5. accessing sensitive information; 6. copying to a file share; 7. copying to an external entity.
In August 2021 the U.K. Defence and Security Accelerator Agency (DASA) launched an Innovation Focus Area (IFA) project called Reducing the Cyber Attack Surface to develop technologies designed to prevent cyberattacks on military platforms, with the aim of helping to eliminate cyber vulnerabilities and reduce cyberattacks with the possibility of a devastating attack. DASA is also working on another cybersecurity IFA project called Autonomous Cyber Defence of Military Systems, which seeks to develop autonomous agents to protect military networks and systems.
Last October it also created a new IFA called Military Systems Information Assurance (MSIA) to focus on identifying, developing, and promoting information assurance technology solutions.
MSIA is an important part of measures taken to strengthen the UK’s cybersecurity capabilities and ensure the security of the country’s critical infrastructure and defence. It is part of the Lifetime Cyber Defence Enhancement Project and is funded as part of the UK government’s Comprehensive Review Document. This IFA will work on developing alternatives to encryption. Examples of the proposals it will consider include: new authentication methods; methods of protecting information in cloud environments; key management systems; providing reliable information under low bandwidth and intermittent communication conditions; flow methods, etc.
Creating a network environment on the battlefield lays the foundations for moving first to cyberwarfare and then to military operations.
The United States of America and European countries enhance research and improve the development of battlefield communication network technology and equipment by innovating infrastructure and improving application programs, as well as introducing emerging technologies and expanding network channels, with the aim of creating a seamless, secure, reliable and efficient system as a communication network that uses sound data integration to achieve advantages in situational awareness, command, control and decision making.
In May 2021 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced the launch of the Mission Integrated Network Control (MINC) program. The project is an essential part of mosaic warfare, which aims to ensure that critical data finds its way to the right user at the right time in a competitive environment, by safely and securely controlling any communication or network resources available. MINC will change the paradigm of static manual configuration of the closed rigid architecture, moving toward autonomous methods of adapting applications and networks to changing military conditions. The MINC project does not intend to develop any new communication hardware and network resources, but rather network and communication system algorithms and software to opportunistically configure and control the resources available. The project aims to develop network connectivity from sensor to “on-demand shooter” by focusing on three key functions: 1. developing an always-on network overlay (a technique that allows a large program to be divided into parts which are small enough to be fully contained in central storage) to access available network and communication resources, as well as control parameters; 2. using the cross-network method to manage network configuration; 3. creating methods to determine the optimal flow of information for kill-net services (i.e. a group of hackers interested in participating in unspecified counter-terrorism actions).
In April 2021 the US Cyber Command released a request for services to support Wolfdoor interdomain solutions. Wolfdoor is a perimeter solution created in 2018 to safely and securely move data from the US Cyber Command to the intelligence community, the Department of Defense (DOD), and commercial networks. The solutions solicited by the US Cyber Command will be used to expand the Wolfdoor infrastructure so as to meet growing mission and data flow requirements. According to the call for proposals, the contractor will help maintain, replicate and expand the data sharing infrastructure to support mission systems. The US Cyber Command wants the contractor to improve system security to eliminate redundancy of support staff at multiple sites, while providing scalability and advanced security support for individual sites.
The US Navy continues to advance the Overmatch Project, which is an attempt to build a maritime network of ships, sensors, weapons and platforms that will enable the Navy to connect its operations and provide commanders with broader real-time situational awareness. Key to the project is the development of the networks, infrastructure, data architecture, tools and analytics that support the operational and development environment to achieve a sustained and lasting maritime advantage by using manned and unmanned systems. The Strong Victory project will also leverage the latest digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, information and networking technologies, to improve the combat readiness of the global fleet. The US Navy also plans to award full implementation contracts for the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES). CANES is the backbone of the Navy’s modernization of C4I-Leonardo and cybersecurity systems on its ships and maritime network. It is integrated, consolidated, updated and upgraded, and will play a key role in the Navy’s efforts to define and implement its own vision for distributed maritime operations in global seas. According to the Navy’s 2022 fiscal budget, CANES will replace and modernize existing maritime networks with the enterprise-grade hardware, software and service infrastructure needed to enable cyberwarfare within and beyond the tactical domain. The underwater and maritime operations centres provide full infrastructure, including hardware, software, processing and storage equipment, as well as end users, for unclassified, coalition, confidential and sensitive information clusters (SCI).
Innovations in Intelligence: The U.S. Intelligence Community Before the Cold War
Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “
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The Intelligence Community (IC) is among the most important aspects of the national security and defense sectors of the United States. They allow for credible and comprehensive intelligence gathering and analysis for various national and human security threats while keeping the United States well defended from all threats. While the Intelligence Community has succeeded multiple times, including during the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, at providing solid intelligence which aided in the conduct of combat or foreign policy. This was not always the case however.
The field of intelligence was haphazardly and very poorly constructed as well as being dominated by power-hungry and rather devious figures prior to the 1947 National Security Act.
As Phyllis Provost McNeil, a federal prosecutor and Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, notes, “prior to the 1880s, intelligence activities were devoted almost exclusively to support of military operations, either to support deployed forces or to obtain information on the views or participation of other countries in a particular conflict”. 
This was predominantly controlled by members of the U.S. Army or Navy Intelligence with the Bureau of Investigation (BOI – the precursor to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)) only coming about in 1908 and predominantly taking part in domestic intelligence. As Provost further notes, “At the time the United States entered the [First World] war, it lacked a coordinated intelligence effort. As a champion of open diplomacy, President Woodrow Wilson had disdained the use of spies and was generally suspicious of intelligence,” however, this view changed drastically when war began and the U.S. became closer to their British allies. Many of these units created for wartime were disbanded following victory in Europe, with the only similar agency remaining behind the BOI. It seems to me the creation of a permanent intelligence service, either a law enforcement or civilian version, was not in the minds of many government officials or executive administrations.
The reasoning for this, as veteran Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst and former Asst. Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research Mark Lowenthal notes, was because, “… the United States did not have strong foreign policy interests beyond its immediate borders… The need for better intelligence became apparent only after the United States achieved the status of a world power and became involved in wide-ranging international issues at the end of the nineteenth century”.
To me, intelligence collection, analysis, and the effective combating of foreign penetration or protection of U.S. interests abroad was incredibly minimal prior to the 1947 National Security Act (and really prior to the beginning of the Second World War). Because the U.S. was a much more isolated nation and, because the country was not involved in developing military relationships or becoming engaged in conflicts with other foreign allies, an intelligence service like what has been seen with the CIA or DIA was not necessary. When intelligence was starting to be made a priority though, I feel that the field was predominantly dominated by a power-hungry and Machiavellian figure who made intelligence collaboration or the ability for more intelligence agencies and capabilities to be created near impossible. J. Edgar Hoover was the first and longest-serving director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and, at his death, had turned the agency into his own private police force and dominated the intelligence collection field. When Hoover was appointed director in 1924, he opposed any measure that seemed to be about taking away power from the FBI or limiting the power that the Bureau held over intelligence and counterintelligence matters. His long feud with Wild Bill Donovan (the creator of the Office of Strategic Services and a founding father of the CIA) most likely shaped his later interactions with the CIA and the long-standing policy of not sharing information with fellow agencies was born out of this relationship. This type of attitude still has ramifications today, with intelligence still going unshared between the FBI and the CIA in spite of past massive failures such as the September 11th attacks. 
The picture that emerges of intelligence services in the United States prior to the Second World War is one built upon historical precedents and the desire to not become widely involved in foreign affairs or military conflicts, which resulted in only a select few military intelligence agencies that were not considered much when military action was deemed necessary. To further complicate matters, when intelligence became a necessity and was seen as being an important factor in the Cold War and in helping America become an influential power, most of the pre-existing intelligence capabilities was dominated by a single man who sought to gain further power by consolidating his abilities, trying to block further intelligence agencies from sprouting up in the United States, and refused to work with fellow agencies on operations.
The original, initial members of the U.S. Intelligence Community immediately following the National Security Act of 1947 were the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), the Department of Energy’s Atomic Energy Commission (DOE AEC – a precursor to the DOE’s entire intelligence apparatus), Army Intelligence, U.S. Navy Intelligence, and U.S. Air Force Intelligence. As more units and agencies were developed over time, each one addressed an area or specialty that was deemed important or lacking in the IC.
The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was created in 1961 to, “obtain unity of effort among all DoD components in developing military intelligence, and to strengthen DoD’s overall capacity for collecting, producing, and disseminating intelligence information” while the National Security Agency (NSA) was created in 1952, “out of the belief that the importance and distinct character of communications intelligence warranted an organization distinct from both the armed forces and the other intelligence agencies”. 
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) also was created in 1961, but to serve as a “permanent reconnaissance organization [meant to foster] permanent and institutionalized collaboration between the CIA and Air Force”. These agencies, along with various other entities, divisions, and sections from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence with the Department of Treasury, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis of the Department of Homeland Security, and new agencies within the Department of Defense, form the core of what the Intelligence Community is today.
The term Intelligence Community is an interesting one too as it has clearly been a work in process for many years. There was no mention of an Intelligence Community in the original National Security Act of 1947 and the first steps towards a legitimate community body began in 1976 when, “[President Ford] created for the first time the position of Deputy to the Director of Central Intelligence [DDCI] for the Intelligence Community and instructed the DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] to delegate day-to-day operation of the CIA to the [DDCI and] directed the DCI to establish requirements and priorities for intelligence collection, and to combine all “national” intelligence activities into a single budget” while Presidents Carter and Reagan both clarified, “the DCI’s authorities and responsibilities in relation to other elements of the Intelligence Community”. In 1992, the Intelligence Community was defined and given responsibilities by Congress which mirror many of the executive orders given by previous presidencies. 
Overall, the Intelligence Community, since 1947, has been an evolving and innovating body, with new agencies being created that address certain oversights within intelligence or new technologies that come about. It should be anticipated that, in the future, specific agencies will be created to combat other new and emerging technologies or to purely focus on intelligence in a more specialized format. Given how threatening misinformation is, it may be a suitable idea for the Intelligence Community to focus on developing a task force or agency that purely focuses on combating such misinformation and disinformation campaigns that come from foreign nations. Something modeled off of the Active Measures Working Group of the U.S. State Department in the 1980s would be an incredible achievement and development that could work to combat all kinds of misinformation, from Russia to China to Iran.
Ahead of the International Fact Checking Day on 2 April, we met with the European Digital Media Observatory which is an EU-wide platform to combat disinformation while protecting the core value of freedom of expression
The modern era of disinformation can be said to have begun in the 1980s. Operatives from the then Soviet Union concocted the lie that the AIDS epidemic sweeping the world at that time was created in a government laboratory in the US.
In a vast, worldwide operation involving field offices, agents and huge investments in newspapers, radio and even publishing a book, for years the KGB pushed the fake narrative to undermine the US and its allies. Known as Operation Infektion, the disinformation campaign was used to sow doubt and create social and political tensions all around the world.
Eventually, the story was repeated in 80 countries and translated into 30 languages until the Soviets admitted to making the whole thing up in 1987. Despite detailed admissions by senior Soviets, the rumour persists to this day, nearly 40 years later.
Spreads like wildfire
Nowadays, modern social networks provide immediate access to information from anywhere, wherever you are in the world.
While disinformation is nothing new, it spreads much faster now. Often it rides on a wave of emotion through personal social networks. Disinformation comes from a variety of sources, foreign and domestic. It is a complex phenomenon with impacts in the real world.
‘It’s only by understanding disinformation that you can tackle it,’ says Paula Gori, Secretary-General and Coordinator of the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO).
EDMO is an independent EU-funded project whose aim is to bring together a wide range of factcheckers, researchers and stakeholders to combat disinformation.
EDMO is focused on the resilience of societies and looks at disinformation regardless of where it originates. It brings together a wide range of researchers and stakeholders in a consortium to understand disinformation and counter it.
‘We bring together people, weaving together facts and evidence,’ she said. ‘EDMO acts as a community builder that brings together the stakeholders ensuring a multidisciplinary approach.’
Not all disinformation narratives are fabricated and promoted by malicious actors. Sometimes, they start as a normal reaction to try to grasp complex situations. We know from research that emotions play a key role in the spread of disinformation, and this was confirmed again during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gori recalls the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, people were scrolling through social network feeds with a sense of foreboding. ‘They were scared and were looking for information. The fact that the virus was new to the scientific community made it even easier to spread disinformation,’ she said.
‘Whatever you were seeing on screen, you were sharing it, because you actually were fearing for your life and you were not taking time to think before sharing.’
It is when online misinformation and false information is created and disseminated with the intent to intentionally deceive the public or to cause public harm that it becomes dangerous disinformation. That is the moment that we must react at all levels of society, together, to tackle the issue.
There are elements of sociology, anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, media literacy and more in that one impulse to share information with your friends and family, which is why ‘the multidisciplinary approach is fundamental,’ she said.
EDMO is set up to support the creation of a cross-border and multidisciplinary community of independent fact-checkers and academic researchers on disinformation in the EU.
EDMO has been enlarged to include national and regional research hubs, which are in a position to use their specific knowledge of local information environments. This will improve detection and analysis of disinformation threats and trends across Europe.
Freedom of expression
Even though EDMO is building resilience against disinformation, an individual’s opinions about any particular topic is never in question. ‘You have to guarantee freedom of expression,’ says Lauri Tierala, Programme Director, EDMO.
‘You cannot regulate disinformation away,’ he said. ‘You cannot have a Ministry of Truth.’ 
‘There are, obviously, legitimate reasons in every society for political differences,’ he said. ‘But creating artificial dividing lines via disinformation leading to polarisation only weakens the whole society.’ In the Information Age, bad information can be highly damaging.
The war in Ukraine has made things even more complicated. In a recent post on the EDMO website, they investigated how social media channels that were usually centres of COVID-19 scepticism have suddenly pivoted to pushing disinformation about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
There are many incentives to publish fake news and disinformation. It could be a power play by a nation state actor or an advertising play by a monetising/financial interest. Some people then just share with their networks, believing they’re doing some good when they’re not, but without malicious intent. Disinformation has different origins and dynamics in how it spreads.
Unfortunately, disinformation is here to stay. At times, it sinks to the level of being an existential threat by having a negative impact on public health and global issues like respondsing to Covid-19 or climate-change. In some contexts, it has been used to motivate violence and it has a negative influence in the public debate, especially when it’s part of a complex web of interactions.
Fact-checking is an essential skill to bring to the table but EDMO has a broader mission to tackle disinformation and a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary way.
Informed decisions
There is an onus on each of us to make informed decisions. We choose to go our own way with the information that’s available to us – red, green or blue, but we should have good quality information, argues Gori.
EDMO is there to assist that process, she explains. It helps to increase awareness of disinformation for better informed decisions. 
‘I would be happy to know that there is someone who actually makes sure I can do this,’ said Gori.
Don’t be an April Fool, Follow the Fact Checking Rules
Tommaso Canetta is deputy director of Pagella Politica, an Italian fact-checking outlet and co-ordinator of the fact-checking activities inside EDMO. To commemorate International Fact Checking Day on 2 April 2022, he shares his five top tips anyone can use for fact checking a piece of content they receive.
The research in this article was funded by the EU. If you liked this article, please consider sharing it on social media.
Cybersecurity defence is the foundation of cyberspace combat capability and an important guarantee for military operations. Guided by the idea of military and industry-led collaboration, the United States of America and the United Kingdom make full use of industry technologies and capabilities to strengthen research and development of cybersecurity technologies and equipment, as well as improve performance in its defence capabilities.
In August 2021 the US Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) awarded to the cybersecurity firm Forescout-Active Defense for the Enterprise of Things a 115 million US dollar contract to promote a zero-trust security model. Also known as zero-trust architecture (ZTA), zero-trust network architecture (ZTNA) or perimeter-less security, it describes an approach to designing and deploying IT systems. The main concept behind the zero-trust security model is “never trust, always verify,” which means that devices should not be trusted by default, even if they are connected to an authorized network such as a corporate LAN and even if they were checked and verified before.
DISA selected the Forescout platform as part of the Compliant Connectivity (C2C) project. The Department of Defense expects C2C to provide a suite of computing and IT capabilities to manage all resources in the Department’s network. One of the C2C-enabled capabilities of the Forescout platform is end-to-end visibility into the Department’s connected networks and will also enable DISA to upgrade security processes, including the automation of essential security functions and improved information sharing.
DISA also plans to develop a prototype of the Thunderdome zero-trust architecture, the production of which will begin in early 2023. The new architecture promises to improve security, reduce complexity and save costs, while replacing current defence-in-depth approaches to cybersecurity.
At the same time, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) developed a new drone cybersecurity software, namely the High Assurance Cyber Military System (HACMS), and invited hackers to attend the DEFense readiness CONdition (DEFCON) cybersecurity Conference in the United States of America in August. The results show that even professionals are not able to crack such software – although I believe that those who could do it would stay hidden, preferring to declare themselves “beaten” rather than exposing themselves in the open.
HACMS uses “formal method” techniques to mathematically ensure that there are no software flaws that would allow hackers to enter and take a computer system over. The software architecture strictly separates the various functions of the task-specific control system, and even if hackers were able to break into the drone’s camera software, they would not be able to hijack its command and control system. Furthermore, in September DARPA launched the Hardening Development Toolchain Defense Against Burst Execution Engine (HARDEN) project, which aims to help developers understand contingency and emergency behaviour in computers to prevent cyber attackers from using the built-in capabilities of critical systems to generate malicious and accidental computations.
In January 2022 the Defense Innovation Agency (DIU) announced it had awarded to the cybersecurity firm CounterCraft an additional settlement agreement for new technology to capture and block insider threats on compromised networks. The technique, known as a “cyber deception platform,” creates a trap for adversaries to leave behind the techniques, tools and command architecture they use after compromising a network. CounterCraft says the technology is essentially “honeypots” and “honeynets”, i.e. cybersecurity techniques that create tempting traps (honeypots) and link these traps together (honeynets). The attackers’ behaviour in a honeypot environment can be classified, thus enabling institutions to visualize their vulnerabilities in infiltration chains.
DIU addressed the industry in July 2021 for advanced endpoint detection and response capabilities (a communication endpoint is a type of node in the communication network; it is an interface that consists of a communicating part or communication channel).  
DIU has stated that the US Cyber Command and the service’s various cyber components want to be ever more the “crown jewel” on the defensive network and defensive weapon system to oppose malicious cyber activity around which DIU is deploying deceptive elements to essentially create pre-filtering sensors and capabilities, as well as pre-filtered data collection devices. This is essentially a method for deploying fake artifacts, decoys, erroneous algorithms and honeypots, and deploying highly customized and targeted recalls and endpoints in very specific traffic data and pre-filtering indicators in an environment that enables us to understand the details of threats by visualizing interactions with fake artifacts. If the methods and techniques described above are proven over time, these tools will change the rules of the game as to how the Department of Defense, and any Agency, protect their networks and data.
This means that cyberspace defenders can develop tailored protection plans and responses that are more specific to any part of the Department of Defense or any other Ministry, rather than trying to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to cyber protection.
The US Army is leveraging new technologies to advance the development and deployment of cyber weapons, incorporating enhancements into existing systems to ensure the continued effectiveness of cyber defenses. Among them, the Network Analysis and Detection (CAD) project is based on the Army’s Big Data Platform – called Gabriel Nimbus – which can run on various classified networks, thus increasing storage space; adding new data sources; and integrating special applications and tools..
Moreover, the User Activity Monitoring (UAM) program enables analysts to identify high-risk user activity in the Army’s networks in near real-time to address insider threats. This helps leverage all the tools, applications, as well as data streams and flows in the Gabriel Nimbus. Threat emulation is the project that enables users to simulate hostile capabilities on their networks with the aim of finding vulnerabilities before actual attacks. This is expected to be implemented in the coming months.
The Deployable Defensive Cyberspace Operations. Systems-Modular (DDS-M) projects are configurable with the hardware kit for use by Cyber Protection Teams (CPTs). The Garrison Defensive Cyberspace Operations Platform (GDP) project is a system capable of high-speed data capture and is moving to the cloud as a software-based military weapon.
Three GDP versions are being developed, with the fourth and fifth ones expected to be launched in 2022 and 2023.
The US Army Cyber Command issued an announcement last August asking for information about the Endpoint Security Solutions as a Service resources: a potential resource for the Army to find endpoint security solutions and hosting services, with the aim of improving overall security and reducing risk. Cyber Command seeks to increase visibility on endpoint security across all Army’s operational domains and track compliance metrics that provide robust protection of assets and systems to detect and respond to cyber threats appropriately in all locations and environments.
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