Amid a Cyber Cold War, is the Cyber Mission Force prepared?

By Stoney Trent

In recent years, cyber intrusions have compromised both personal privacy and national security in the United States. Recent hacks of financial, government personnel, and political party systems—as well as Russian influence operations through US social media—illustrate grave threats to the nation’s values and institutions. But oddly, news of compromised defense systems and critical infrastructure has failed to raise widespread alarm. Between 2009 and 2013, intruders stole design information for the F-35 fighter aircraft and a variety of other military systems. Between May and July of this year, intrusions were detected into at least a dozen nuclear power plants. (A UK-based company has been offering a course in infrastructure hacking for at least three years.) Hackers, by compromising defense systems, have gained information about military designs that cost US taxpayers trillions of dollars to develop—and meanwhile, hacking of industrial control systems could result in calamity for civilian populations. It is clear that the United States is now in a Cyber Cold War against multiple capable adversaries. As during the original Cold War, the Defense Department is organizing, posturing, and maneuvering to gain and retain the initiative.