US Navy prepares for cyber warfare offensive

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/ilbusca)

Individuals behind their computers might sound less-frightening than the nuclear weapons of past, but as we've seen depicted in fictional-but-realistic video games such as Call of Duty, compromising the right systems can have devastating consequences.

Most governments have been setting-up dedicated teams to help defend against such modern attacks, including the UK who set-up the Joint Cyber Reserve Unit to deal with the  70 “sophisticated” attacks (on average) every month to government systems.

You deter people by having an offensive capability.

Now, the US Navy is preparing to go on the offensive. Kevin Cooley, executive director and command information officer for Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet, has suggested that the service is gearing up for the possibility that the White House will order offensive cyber-attacks...

At a C4ISR & Networks conference in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday he said: "Just like in other warfare domains we have the capability to be tactically offensive and tactically defensive [and] strategically offensive and strategically defensive. Being open about that capability is an important part of transparency that we acknowledge in any other form of warfare." 

His comments are thought to have been made after increasing pressure from the business community who have been facing constant attacks from traffic originating in China, Russia, and other countries with significant technical capabilities. Security researchers and lawmakers have also expressed a desire for the United States to go on offense against its adversaries online.

The service is gearing up for the possibility that the White House will order offensive cyber-attacks

China accounts for 41 percent of all global computer attack traffic, according to a report by Akamai Technologies. Verizon's 2013 Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) also blamed China for cyber-attacks and pointed the finger at the country as a main instigator of data breaches. China topped a list of threat origins, claiming 30 percent of data breaches, 96 percent of which were linked to cyber-espionage. 

Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Defence in the UK, told a Conservative Party conference: "You deter people by having an offensive capability. We will build in Britain a cyber strike capability so we can strike back in cyber-space against enemies who attack us, putting cyber alongside land, sea, air and space as a mainstream military activity." 

The US already has offensive capabilities through intelligence agencies, as demonstrated towards North Korea after the Sony breach which the FBI claims originated from the country. Assigning such attacks to a military arm is a signal that the US wants a stronger deterrent against hacking aggression from other nations. 

Do you think cyber warfare capabilities are an essential deterrent? Let us know in the comments.

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