The United States has approved a plan which will see its cybersecurity force increase five-fold over the coming years. This major expansion will see personnel numbers increase from around 900 people now to some 4,900 or so over the next few years. The new staffing level will comprise of both soldiers and civilians.
This step up in cyber security may be, at least in part, a response to hacking group Anonymous who recently turned the US Sentencing Commission website (ussc.gov still appears to be down even now) into a game of Asteroids as part of the ‘Operation Last Resort’.
This latest Op came about following the tragic death of Aaron Swartz who recently committed suicide.
Of course there are plenty of other concerns beyond hacktivist groups and online sabotage and the threat of out and out cyber warfare are only likely to increase as the years go by. Attacks on national infrastructure, such as the electricity grid or power plants, seem to be a real concern amongst those in power. And with the US themselves, aided by Israel, creating the Flame malware to target the Iranian nuclear program it may only be a matter of time before they have to face some serious consequences.
“We’ve got good people that are involved in it, but, very frankly, if we’re going to stay on the cutting edge of what’s happening with regards to the changes that are occurring, we have got to invest more in that area.”
Leon Panetta, US Defense Secretary – Nov 2012
This expansion of cyber command will see 3 forces:
1) Combat mission forces will be responsible for planning and executing attacks.
2) The National mission forces will protect critical computer systems such as those which deal with the power plants and electricity grids.
3) Cyber protection forces will have the responsibility of protecting the Defense Department’s own computer networks.