WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 5, 2014) – The adversary is looking to exploit vulnerabilities in Army computer systems, said the chief of the Army’s Cyberspace and Information Operations Division.
“That threat is out there; it’s every day,” said Col. Carmine Cicalese, in an interview at the Pentagon. His division is part of the Army Operations Center, G-3/5/7.
In the next war, “someone’s screens are going to go blank,” he said. “We don’t want them to be ours.”
Cyber threats are evolving and increasing in sophistication, he said, whether from espionage, or from adversaries trying to gain sensitive data and intellectual property, or trying to disrupt communications and weapons systems.
“We’re dependent on our networks. We’re dependent on our communication systems, so that’s a vulnerability and a non-lethal vulnerability, at that, where they could have an effect,” he said.
The Army is investing to protect its ability to command and control its forces, “so that we can do, in support of the combatant commander, what we need to do,” he said.
NEW CYBER BRANCH
“The Army approval process for creating a new cyber branch is still ongoing, and when complete, the branch will give Soldiers in that field an identity,” Cicalese said.
Just as it is important in the profession of arms, an identity is important in the profession of cyber arms as well, he noted.
Creating a new branch will also formalize the necessary training and education track in the career path, Cicalese said.
“It is something that you do your whole career, not just for one or two tours, and then go back to what you do,” he said.
In this highly competitive field, the Army is looking for the best and the brightest Soldiers who embody the Army core values, he said.
The field demands “highly skilled, disciplined people with character,” he said.
Cyber personnel are essentially trained hackers, he said, and the Army wants to make sure they don’t take the job home with them, and that they only use their skills for the Army mission.
The training is intense with a higher failure rate than in other job fields, he said.
“Even if you’re a computer whiz kid, for example, and you are oozing with computer talent, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to make this. It’s very technical,” he said.
PRACTICE “GOOD CYBER HYGIENE”
Army computer systems are responsible for a wide array of actions, and the threats against them are constant, he said.
Disruptions could prevent communications and impact the mission, he said, whether in the battlefield, while delivering aid during an emergency, or elsewhere.
The Army must operate, secure and defend the network to maintain its freedom of action, he said.
From the highest level at the Department of the Army, to the most junior enlisted member, cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility.
“Don’t bite on the phishing scams. Take the time at home to use the assets that the Department of Defenses will offer to you to secure your home computer as well,” he said.
The Army focuses on training and awareness, he said, and how to secure the systems.
“Everybody has a part in this. Understand good cyber hygiene,” he said, explaining that cyber security includes always being careful with online activities.
With social media, it doesn’t take “rocket science” to locate Soldiers and get details including their activities, their jobs, and their travel plans, he said.
The adversary is taking note, he said.
“You take a picture of your vehicle. You just put a GPS date-time group stamp on it, and you post that on social media and say ‘survived the attack,'” he said.
“Guess what you just told the adversary?” he said.
The adversary now knows, he said, the location of you and your unit, when the attack occurred, and its impact.
“Now the enemy can react off of that,” he said.
“We want Soldiers to tell their story, but we want them to understand how much of the story to tell — and not everybody needs to know exactly where you are at every moment,” he said.