At a glance.
- US DoD elevates Cyber National Mission Force.
- The rising threat of cyber warfare in the new year.
US DoD elevates Cyber National Mission Force.
Yesterday the US Department of Defense (DoD) established the Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), a digital warfighting force composed of thirty-nine joint cyber teams, as a permanent “subordinate unified command” underneath Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). First activated in 2014, the CNMF supports CYBERCOM with a focus on election security, ransomware, cyber and espionage. CYBERCOM head Army General Paul M. Nakasone, who officiated the elevation ceremony, stated, “This [CNMF] command is so special because they’ve always been on the cutting-edge in terms of the operations we’ve conducted. This is the command within US Cyber Command that has always taken that first step forward. The future holds a lot for the Cyber National Mission Force.” As the Record by Recorded Future notes, CNMF has been a key player in the deployment of “hunt forward” teams, and since 2018 the force has sent out personnel thirty-eight times to twenty-one countries across the globe, probing over sixty networks in the process. Major General William Hartman, commander of the CNMF, says he recently witnessed hunt forward missions to an undisclosed Middle Eastern country and a nation in the EU. “The elevation of CNMF to a sub-unified command reflects the incredible dedication, professionalism and commitment of unit members, past and present,” Hartman stated. “We are immensely proud of the contributions of all who made this happen.”
The rising threat of cyber warfare in the new year.
Wired examines the difficulty of maintaining peace when the first grenade thrown can be digital. Earlier this year, an independent American hacker impacted by a North Korean hacking campaign targeting Western security researchers decided to retaliate by disrupting the country’s entire internet network, and there’s no doubt the North Korean government questioned whether the attack was the first move in a state-backed assault from the US. Fortunately Kim Jong Un’s administration did not decide to escalate, but the incident demonstrates just how delicate the balance is between cyber war and peace. Indeed, the US is more regularly using defensive measures to prevent foreign cyberagression, whether it might target US transportation systems, the power grid, or the voting process, as demonstrated by Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Case in point: The Record by Recorded Future reports that Army General Paul Nakasone, head of the US National Security Agency and CYBERCOM, informed reporters earlier this month that his digital combat unit executed “full spectrum” operations – meaning both defensive and offensive actions – to protect the 2022 midterm elections from foreign interference. “We did conduct operations persistently to make sure that our foreign adversaries couldn’t utilize infrastructure to impact us,” Nakasone said. “We understood how foreign adversaries utilize infrastructure throughout the world, we had that mapped pretty well, and we wanted to make sure that we took it down at key times.” As we look toward 2023, Wired warns that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions between the US and China places the world closer to a great cyberwar than it has ever been before.