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Sun Jun 23, 2019, 07:53 AM

Under Trump, U.S. military ramps up cyber offensive against other countries

Source: NBC News

"The other side thought they could just walk all over us," said one expert. "There was a decision in this administration to impose consequences."

June 23, 2019, 7:00 AM EDT

By Ken Dilanian

WASHINGTON With little public scrutiny, the U.S. military has dramatically stepped up its secret hacking of foreign computer networks in a new effort to keep China, Russia, Iran and other adversaries on their heels, current and former U.S. officials tell NBC News.

Empowered with new legal authority from both Congress and President Donald Trump, the military's elite cyber force has conducted more operations in the first two years of the Trump administration than it did in eight years under Obama, officials say including against Russia, despite Trump's well-documented affinity for Vladimir Putin.

The general in charge of the push, Paul Nakasone, has spoken about the new policy in cryptic terms such as "persistent engagement," and "defending forward," without explaining what that means. Multiple current and former American officials briefed on the matter say military hackers are breaking into foreign networks, striking at enemy hackers and planting cyber bombs that would disable infrastructure in the event of a conflict.

The officials declined to confirm or deny a New York Times report that an element of these classified operations included hacking into Russia's power grid, but they said that such a move would be a standard response to similar behavior by Russia and China. U.S. officials have said that those countries have for years planted malware that could turn out the lights in parts of the U.S.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/under-trump-u-s-military-ramps-cyber-offensive-against-other-n1019281?cid=public-rss_20190623

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Reply Under Trump, U.S. military ramps up cyber offensive against other countries (Original post)
DonViejo Jun 2019 OP
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 2019 #1
EX500rider Jun 2019 #3
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 2019 #4
Jedi Guy Jun 2019 #5
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 2019 #6
PSPS Jun 2019 #2

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 08:31 AM

1. These actions could backfire spectacularly.

The big problems with hacking wars are that retaliation can come at any time in the future, it's totally unpredictable as to when it may happen and the potential targets are endless. It could be against anything from banking to healthcare to industrial or military systems to water and sewer systems to your smart appliances, and many more (anything that's "connected" ).

Results could vary from minor annoyances to national emergencies (REAL ones).

Trump and his cohorts do not care about consequences affecting everyday citizens. They will try to blame a kid on a computer in his bedroom in Nigeria rather than one of their favored state actors.


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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Reply #1)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 11:09 AM

3. Since these countries are already hacking us what would be the point of not doing it back? nt

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Response to EX500rider (Reply #3)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 06:16 PM

4. The point is to avoid a full-blown cyber war that could....

bring down the global economy into a deep recession or even depression. Cyber war been there ever since computers and the internet connected although like a fever, it's kept at low-grade by massive security provisioning. Hacking traffic on the WEB is continuous and massive. The goal of most of it is extortion and data theft or attempts at implanting rogue software into systems for future attacks.

Think of it like two neighboring nations who dislike each other that have daily border skirmishes with conventional weapons although both have nuclear weapons. Neither side wants annihilation even though fingers are on the trigger at all times. All it takes is one insane leader with a robust enough cyber army and a psychotic moment to wreak havoc across the globe.

Cyber attacks happen every day but rarely make the news. Most are kept in check by a powerful and extensive (and expensive) networks of both government and private security systems. However, those systems have their limits and theoretically could be overwhelmed.

The frightening thing about cyber security is that none of the actors know exactly what secret tools the others have in their back pocket. Nor do they know which of those secret bugs have been installed into existing computer systems that are silently waiting to be triggered.


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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Reply #4)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 07:16 PM

5. None of what you said really answered the question that was asked, though.

If we know that a hostile nation has hacked or attempted to hack their way into our systems, we'd be pretty foolish not to return the favor. If they can turn out the lights, they're less likely to do so if they know that we can do the exact same thing to them. China in particular isn't likely to do anything to seriously damage our economy, since ours and theirs are so closely intertwined that what affects the one must necessarily affect the other. If they crash our economy to the point that we can't buy their stuff, they're essentially shooting themselves in the foot.

It's basically a digital version of the nuclear doctrine of mutually assured destruction from the Cold War. It's far from ideal, but if you sit there and refuse to use a weapon that your enemies (actual or potential) are using, you put yourself at a tremendous disadvantage.

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Response to Jedi Guy (Reply #5)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 08:50 PM

6. Point taken but it depends on how aggressive the counter-attack is, and...

we must remember that's there's never been a full-blown cyber war in our history to use as reference. Out of control escalation is my primary concern. However, no one is arguing against sensible counter-measures.

From the limited knowledge I have of that industry, there's a continuous tit-for-tat war like you mentioned going on all the time, like warning shots across a border. One has to dig deep into cyber security industry publications to even learn of some of these events. I suspect many very serious events are not published for national security reasons, so the public really doesn't know the extent.

Again, counter-responses are unpredictable in scope and nature and may be intentionally delayed for effect. They might even attack one of our allies and cause serious damage as a show of strength, and that could get out of hand.

The problem is that neocons like we have in Trump's cabal will tend to strike back with disproportionate responses that could lead to severe escalation, just like in conventional war. I still have some trust in our established deep-state security agencies, but I don't trust Trump's people to make wise decisions relating to either conventional or cyber wars.


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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 10:29 AM

2. With trump, "other countries" probably includes former allies

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