Hot off the heels of a recent cyberattack on the United States Justice Department, the Pentagon is planning to beef up its computer defense forces.
The Defense Department intends to increase its cybersecurity staff by fivefold, from a paltry 900 people all the way up to 4,900 troops and civilian employees.
According to a report in the Washington Post, the Defense Department's Cyber Command division is requesting the (huge) uptick in personnel in order to increase the Pentagon's abilities. The plan isn't simply to become better at defending important information, but to also train forces to be capable of going on the offensive. There are reportedly three different kinds of forces that the Cyber Command wants to train:
- National Mission Forces
- Combat Mission Forces
- Cyber Protection Forces
National Mission Forces will secure and defend systems that operate electrical grids, nuclear power plants, and other foundations for economic and national security. Cyber Protection Forces would naturally defend the Defense Department's own networks from outside invaders, while Combat Mission Forces would let the U.S. go on the offensive should it be deemed necessary. Apparently the Pentagon is sick of always hearing about Chinese hackers and other rogue organizations always getting into their systems and stealing data.
"Given the malicious actors that are out there and the development of the technology, in my mind, there's little doubt that some adversary is going to attempt a significant cyberattack on the United States at some point," said William J. Lynn III, a former deputy defense secretary who helped create the Pentagon's cybersecurity plan. "The only question is whether we're going to take the necessary steps like this one to deflect the impact of the attack in advance or . . . read about the steps we should have taken in some post-attack commission report."
The Cyber Command was first set up three years ago, but the need to defend its own networks has limited efforts to expand capabilities beyond that. It's unclear whether or not the Pentagon will actually be able to find and properly train the large number of people it's seeking out. Sobered by recent cyberattacks such as the one that deleted data off 30,000 computers in Saudi Arabia, however, the military is placing extra emphasis on carving out a safe niche in the digital world.
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