Cyber operations come out of the shadows

Cyber operations, which have long been conducted in the background, have been gaining more prominence. With high-profile intrusions into U.S. systems – the Office of Personnel Management and the email system for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to name a couple – cyber conflict, capability and awareness has been brought to the attention of the public. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper even acknowledged the practicality of the OPM breach, saying that the United States would do the same thing. Despite these apparent setbacks, the United States is also publicly stepping up its cyber game.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has tasked Cyber Command to “take on the war against ISIL as essentially the first major combat operation of Cybercom,” he said in front of Congress last week, using another acronym for ISIS. “The objectives there are to interrupt ISIL command and control, interrupt its ability to move money around, interrupt its ability to tyrannize and control population, interrupt its ability to recruit externally – all of that it does in a cyber-enabled way,” he continued.  “We’re talking about cyber operations in Syria and Iraq and my feeling about that was and is very direct, which is we’re bombing them and we’re going to take out their Internet and so forth as well…This is the first big test of Cybercom. I have very high expectations that they can be successful.”

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