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Nakashima reports: "Another goal is the creation of a robust operating system capable of launching attacks and surviving counterattacks. Officials say this would be the cyberspace equivalent of an armored tank."

The Pentagon is ramping its efforts to dominate Cyberspace. (photo: US Army)
The Pentagon is ramping its efforts to dominate Cyberspace. (photo: US Army)



Pentagon to Spread US Military Might to Cyberspace

By Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post

31 May 12

 

he Pentagon is turning to the private sector, universities and even computer-game companies as part of an ambitious effort to develop technologies to improve its cyberwarfare capabilities, launch effective attacks and withstand the likely retaliation.

The previously unreported effort, which its authors have dubbed Plan X, marks a new phase in the nation’s fledgling military operations in cyberspace, which have focused more on protecting the Defense Department’s computer systems than on disrupting or destroying those of enemies.

Plan X is a project of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a Pentagon division that focuses on experimental efforts and has a key role in harnessing computing power to help the military wage war more effectively.

“If they can do it, it’s a really big deal,” said Herbert S. Lin, a cybersecurity expert with the National Research Council of the National Academies. “If they achieve it, they’re talking about being able to dominate the digital battlefield just like they do the traditional battlefield.”

Cyberwarfare conjures images of smoking servers, downed electrical systems and exploding industrial plants, but military officials say cyberweapons are unlikely to be used on their own. Instead, they would support conventional attacks, by blinding an enemy to an impending airstrike, for example, or disabling a foe’s communications system during battle.

The five-year, $110 million research program will begin seeking proposals this summer. Among the goals will be the creation of an advanced map that details the entirety of cyberspace — a global domain that includestens of billions of computers and other devices — and updates itself continuously. Such a map would help commanders identify targets and disable them using computer code delivered through the Internet or other means.

Another goal is the creation of a robust operating system capable of launching attacks and surviving counterattacks. Officials say this would be the cyberspace equivalent of an armored tank; they compare existing computer operating systems to sport-utility vehicles — well suited to peaceful highways but too vulnerable to work on battlefields.

The architects of Plan X also hope to develop systems that could give commanders the ability to carry out speed-of-light attacks and counterattacks using preplanned scenarios that do not involve human operators manually typing in code — a process considered much too slow.

Officials compare this to flying an airplane on autopilot along predetermined routes.

It makes sense “to take this on right now,” said Richard M. George, a former National Security Agency cyberdefense official. “Other countries are preparing for a cyberwar. If we’re not pushing the envelope in cyber, somebody else will.”

Military Initiative

The shift in focus is significant, said officials from the Pentagon agency, known by the acronym DARPA. Cyber-operations are rooted in the shadowy world of intelligence-gathering and electronic-spying organizations such as the NSA.

Unlike espionage, military cyber­attacks would be aimed at achieving a physical effect — disrupting or shutting down a computer, for example — and probably would be carried out by the U.S. Cyber Command, the organization that was launched in 2010 next to the NSA at Fort Meade.

“Because the origins of cyberattack have been in the intelligence community, there’s a tendency to believe that simply doing more of what they’re doing will get us what we need,” said Kaigham J. Gabriel, acting director of DARPA. “That’s not the way we see it. There’s a different speed, scale and range of capabilities that you need. No matter how much red you buy, it’s not orange.”

Plan X is part of a larger DARPA effort begun several years ago to create breakthrough offensive and defensive cyber-­capabilities.

With a cyber budget of $1.54 billion from 2013 to 2017, the agency will focus increasingly on cyber-offense to meet military needs, officials say.

DARPA’s research is designed to foster long-shot successes. In addition to helping create the Internet, the agency’s work gave rise to stealth jet technology and portable global-positioning devices.

“Even if 90 percent of their ideas don’t pan out,” said Martin Libicki, a cyberwar expert at Rand Corp., “the 10 percent that are worthwhile more than pay back the difference.”

A digital battlefield map, as DARPA envisions it, would plot nodes on the Internet, drawing from a variety of sources and changing as cyberspace changes.

“In a split microsecond you could have a completely different flow of information and set of nodes,” Gabriel said. “The challenge and the opportunity is to create a capability where you’re always getting a rapid, high-order look of what the Internet looks like - of what the cyberspace looks like at any one point in time.”

The ideal map would show network connections, analyze how much capacity a particular route has for carrying a cyberweapon and suggest alternative routes according to traffic flows, among other things.

The goal would be a visual representation of cyberspace that could help commanders make decisions on what to attack and how, while seeing any attacks coming from an enemy.

Achieving this will require an enormous amount of upfront intelligence work, experts say.

Michael V. Hayden, a former NSA director and a former CIA director, said he can imagine a map with red dots representing enemy computers and blue dots representing American ones.

When the enemy upgrades his operating system, the red dots would blink yellow, meaning the target is out of reach until cyber operators can determine what the new operating system is.

“I can picture that,” Hayden said. “But this really is bigger than all outdoors.”

Complicated Controls

Plan X also envisions the development of technology that enables a commander to plan, launch and control cyberattacks.

A commander wanting to hit a computer that controls a target - a strategically important drawbridge in enemy territory, for example - should be able to predict and quantify battle damage while considering the timing or other constraints on a possible attack, said Dan Roelker, Plan X program manager.

Cyberwar experts worry about unintended consequences of attacks that might damage the flow of electricity to civilian homes or hospitals. A targeting system also should allow operators to stop a strike or reroute it before it damages systems that are not targeted - a fail-safe mechanism that experts say would be very difficult to engineer.

DARPA will not prescribe what should be represented on the digital map.

Some experts say they would expect to see power and transportation systems that support military objectives.

Daniel Kuehl, an information warfare professor at the National Defense University’s iCollege, said the Air Force built its history around attacks on infrastructure - in Korea, Vietnam, Serbia and Iraq.

“In all of those conflicts,” he said, “we went after the other side’s electricity with bombs.”

Today, he said, cyberweapons could be more humane than pulverizing power grids with bombs.

If a cyberwarrior can disrupt a computer system controlling an enemy’s electric power, the system theoretically can also be turned back on, minimizing the impact on civilians.

But retired Gen. James E. Cartwright, who as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until August pushed to develop military cyber-offense capabilities, said the military is focused less on power grids than on “tanks and planes and ships and anything that carries a weapon.”

“The goal is not the single beautiful target that ends the war in one shot. That doesn’t exist,” said Cartwright, who is now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The military needs more of a brute-force approach that allows it to get at a thousand targets as quickly as possible. ”

 

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+22 # CandH 2012-05-31 18:24
"“In a split microsecond you could have a completely different flow of information and set of nodes,” Gabriel said. “The challenge and the opportunity is to create a capability where you’re always getting a rapid, high-order look of what the Internet looks like - of what the cyberspace looks like at any one point in time.”"

Um, that concept is eerily similar to the power construct in the film The Matrix, whilst also channeling Rove's Orwellian mantra of: ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''"
 
 
+25 # Dave45 2012-05-31 20:57
This is just terrific--anoth er ripple in the moral and political sewer that is the United States of America and the wading pool of its elected officials. The country is broke; its health care delivery system is worse than that of many third-world countries; and its primary economic obsession is with increasing the wealth of the already obscenely rich. On top of all this, nearly 20% of its citizens lack full-time employment. Nevertheless, our feckless politicians can always find (or create) the millions or billions needed for developing better ways more efficiently to kill enemies it has not yet even made (though we can certainly be assured that if we build the weapons the enemies will come). The moral stench emitted daily by this international parasite has become overwhelming. Unfortunately, the nation's odious presence will not be spelled until either the country destroys itself or other nations decide they have had enough and, banding together, rise up to bring the arrogant beast to its seldom used knees.
 
 
+1 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-05-31 23:05
Let the Military play in the sandbox and it will soon be a battlefield.
I wish Latin were still taught: maybe people would remember that the aim of war is to have peace, and you should not have to wage it to get the result.
In "Si vis pacem, para bellum"* too many people only recognize "parabellum".

(*"If you want peace, prepare war")
 
 
+3 # reiverpacific 2012-06-01 09:41
Quoting Granny Weatherwax:
Let the Military play in the sandbox and it will soon be a battlefield.
I wish Latin were still taught: maybe people would remember that the aim of war is to have peace, and you should not have to wage it to get the result.
In "Si vis pacem, para bellum"* too many people only recognize "parabellum".

(*"If you want peace, prepare war")


Or like the attitude of the military-worshi ping "duh" populace who are quite happy to be reduced to the passive status of "Panem et Circences" (Bread and Circuses), what!?
 
 
+1 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-01 11:23
Indeed.
Maybe we should stop here lest someone points out that "Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur".

("Whatever is said in Latin sounds deep")
 
 
+2 # mdhome 2012-06-01 07:05
(though we can certainly be assured that if we build the weapons the enemies will come).
Hey, got to test the weapon to make sure it works in case we need it. So sad.
 
 
0 # Glen 2012-06-05 15:51
Dave, I don't know if you are continuing to monitor this thread and your comments, but I must say that your comments are exactly to the point and the criticism pertinent to the reality in the U.S. Many is the time I have expressed similar sentiments, but yours are much more specific and illustrative. And correct. Thank you.
 
 
0 # cordleycoit 2012-05-31 23:40
I think we should look at this story as a story. A convenient lie a bit of military pizzazz, this is like a tank rather than the true horror total control. Ensuring that the machines will protect us from ourselves. The enemy is not out there but in the destructive constructive cycle.
War and advancement, see medicine after the World War Two leap came the post Korean War leap which blended into South East Asia Wars leap. The same thing is happening with physics and machine thinking. One can almost feel the bump one gets crossing the tracks not of trains but where the Internet crohttp://reade rsupportednews. org/news-sectio n2/323-95/11705 -pentagon-to-sp read-us-militar y-might-to-cybe rspace#sses the highway of time. And on those track DARPA is playing.
 
 
+8 # heraldmage 2012-06-01 00:41
It is time we the people put a stop to tax payer funded military expansion to increase USA corporate profits not defend the nation.
The USA has no right to impose its will on any sovereign nations or use covert, black op to create conflict or to fund & arm groups to create chaos aimed at regime change. USA policy is any leader who disobeys is replaced. Civil war is good for USA war profiteers & ensures USA gets control of nation & its resources.
Terrorist groups must be confused 1st the USA support them, than they're public enemy #1 now they're tax payer supported.
Our government has us so brainwashed we will believe & accept anything without proof. USA funded terrorist are called activist by USA media. Every military action since Korea has been based on lies.
It is USA military actions that is making us unsafe. Drone attacks kill innocent babies, children, women & men. While the USA supports democracy in realty, only if the USA candidate is elected. If the people go against the USA sanction are impose & activist start the destabilization process.
In reality the USA only wants control of the worlds natural resources for the profit of the 1%. It doesn't care about humanitarian needs or raising people out of poverty. Those are only slogan for domestic consumption.
Its time we reign in the military demand a full visual audit of Defense CIA & State department. Close all foreign bases, stop military & foreign aid. Put USA & its people first.
 
 
+7 # seeuingoa 2012-06-01 01:58
What a insane world with the craziest
of crazy people working in Pentagon.
 
 
+4 # Mrcead 2012-06-01 03:54
I don't know how these initiatives keep getting passed.... Any sane person would have a slue of questions that need answering before even entertaining the notion of dumping billions into a bottomless cyber pit.

Our ogres see imaginary ogres in the ether and surmise what they 'could' be planning (which is as infinite as ones imagination mind you) and since they have very little insight or education to the 'threat', assume the worst and call you (the rational one) a treasonous swine for not being 1000% on board with the ridiculous idea of using a money catapult (because that's really what it is essentially)to bludgeon 'the enemy' with.

As for me, I just see another reason for folks to stuff their bank accounts with the money that will no doubt leak from this initiative, especially when I read the line:

“Even if 90 percent of their ideas don’t pan out,” said Martin Libicki, a cyberwar expert at Rand Corp., “the 10 percent that are worthwhile more than pay back the difference.”

I have my doubts.
 
 
+6 # wilma 2012-06-01 04:44
Here again is the government gaining in areas which enables its to pry into the lives of its citizens.

This sounds wonderful on the surface, but what would stop the military from using this against civilian 'targets' or so called 'enemies'.

I don't like it. It's just another 'weasel' deal.

Sincerely,

wilma




















hee
 
 
+4 # Elusive Pimpernel 2012-06-01 10:39
Quoting wilma:
Here again is the government gaining in areas which enables its to pry into the lives of its citizens.

This sounds wonderful on the surface, but what would stop the military from using this against civilian 'targets' or so called 'enemies'.


Wilma, you hit the nail on the head.... you are exactly right. With new laws such as the Patriot act, new FBI surveillance of people's phones and other private concerns, the military is innocently setting up a way to disconnect dissent online, and attack people's computers whom they deem dissidents or anarchists.

With these high tech computers, they can disable the best organizations that use the internet as a medium for staging events.

Maybe its time for us "dissidents" to find alternative ways to communicate. Maybe using two tin cans on a string, or secret codes. Ahhh, but the government already has the tin cans under surveillance and recording every tin sound emanating from American citizens posing a threat because they seek constitutional liberties restored.
 
 
+5 # walt 2012-06-01 06:53
The real concern here is that this is one more example of the military having control of things. Why?

The answer is that we spend all our money on the military and then use them in whatever type venture we want like nation-building in Afghanistan. Cyberwar coming next! We are even giving used weapons to police departments. It seems and endless process and one that should concern citizens who are spending an enormous percentage of tax dollars for it all.

As an example of a military out of control, watch the news media when they want to discuss foreign policy. More often than not, we will be hearing from a retired general.
 
 
+6 # qasee 2012-06-01 07:45
And how long before this is unleashed on local citizens who don't tow the line and disagree with the powers that be? I can see anyone who looks into any info on protests suddenly having there computer fried.
 
 
+3 # Elusive Pimpernel 2012-06-01 12:30
Quoting qasee:
I can see anyone who looks into any info on protests suddenly having there computer fried.



Fried, confiscated, and all while you sit in some FEMA detention camp having no representation or knowing when you are coming out. Gee, that sounds like some Muslims who were sent to Guantanamo Bay, but now its Americans. Guess the government has had some practice in illegal detentions and water boarding, now we can all enjoy the amenities of a dictatorship openly performing their civic duty.
 
 
+4 # Phlippinout 2012-06-01 07:51
I laughed really loud when Hilary was talking about human right offenses in other countries, like the US is a human rights defender, ha ha ha ha. We are the world police, defending greed and corruption world wide!
 
 
0 # Anarchist 23 2012-06-04 12:29
Check out 'The Nation's' article on conditions in Honduras. It could well be a template for our future here in 'der Heimat' (the Homeland)
 
 
+3 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-06-01 08:31
As for this propagandized Post article, would that be Plan X from Outer Space?
 
 
+4 # reiverpacific 2012-06-01 09:37
Why not!
Hell the military pollutes everything it even comes close to so why not near-space.
My only hope is that like all empirical armies, it'll destroy itself through short-sightedne ss and the power-opiate!
I just hate to have to pay for it and to view the worship it receives from the already-doped populace, as well as it's overwhelmingly destructive impact on the mother-planet, pollution and resource-suckin g at all costs, including human and other species we try to share the circle of life with.
"O' villains, vipers, damned beyond redemption! Terrible Hell be on your spotted souls for this"!
The word "defense" is a joke when applied to this crowd.
 
 
+7 # Listner 2012-06-01 10:09
I must admit I really don't understand cyberspace and all its intricasies.I do know that if we continue to pound fear up the posteriors of the american people, if we keep repeating the mantra "if we don't get them,they'll get us" we're doomed to failure.
Why in gods name can't any of our leaders express the desire for peace? I watch the Rick Steves show travel to Copenhagen and see what a peaceful and harmonius place it is. Not one of those people has war or anything related to war on their minds. They stroll along streets with no cars and play with their kids. They aren't worried about a gunman ruining the day because they don't fear anything like we do here.We're afraid of immigrants, of people who don't look like us or dress like us. We've been taught fear by our government for years. We live in gated communitys with a "security" guard to ward off evil.
We've allowed ourselves to be fed fear from every direction.
The first presidential candidate who says he'll cut military spending in half and pull our troops out of EVERYWHERE will have me on the street carrying his sign. This is madness.
 
 
+4 # Elusive Pimpernel 2012-06-01 10:45
Listener, they pound "fear" into our daily lives so that WE will demand more strict laws to be enforced for OUR safety. Thus, we have no one to blame when we begin to realize we have fallen into to the trap the funeral directors and used car salesman use, FEAR, to goad us into believing its for our own good.

The events in Oklahoma City bombings and 911 were perfect events that set the stage for more rigid rules enforced on the American public. It was supposed to be to protect us from outside terrorists, but instead, it has become a police state with laws limiting our right to protest and if we do, we can be hauled off somewhere and held without any due process.

The military's new advance into cyberspace is no different than FBI and NSA now infringing into our lives through Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and other venues. We are slowly witnessing the coming of 1984, albeit a bit late, but still coming.

Will we simply sit idly by like sleeping sheep and obey, or will we begin to awaken and act???
 
 
+4 # jwb110 2012-06-01 11:01
No system on computer is un-hackable.
 
 
+3 # Elusive Pimpernel 2012-06-01 11:40
We are witnessing dramatic changes in our civil liberties.

New laws such as:

.Patriot Act - Limits American citizens and gives unlimited power to the President to overrule constitutional laws or congressional laws.

.National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Allows your incarceration without trail.

.HIRE Act (limiting where you put your money)

.Agenda 21 (Law restricting settlement in rural areas and forcing public to move into cities with limited right to travel)

Read this article by the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-the-united-states-still-the-land-of-the-free/2012/01/04/gIQAvcD1wP_story.html as to ten reasons the US is no longer land of the free.

As Ron Paul has said,

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX14):

“Demanding domestic security in times of war invites carelessness in preserving civil liberties and the right of privacy. Frequently the people are only too anxious for their freedoms to be sacrificed on the altar of authoritarianis m thought to be necessary to remain safe and secure. Nothing would please the terrorists more than if we willingly gave up some of our cherished liberties while defending ourselves from their threat.” (Cong.Rec., 09/11/01)
 

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