The Washington Post reports that the Pentagon has approved a major expansion of its cyber security force which will result in a five-fold resource increase.
The move marks a shift in cyber strategy by the US Defense Department Cyber Command, which requested the change. The US will now move from cyber defensive measures into a “fully-operational Internet-era fighting force” with close to 5,000 troops and civilians at its disposal.
Pentagon officials told the newspaper that the move was in direct response to the growing cyber threat around the world. The gravity of that threat, they said, has been highlighted by a string of sabotage attacks on the US and its allies, including one that wiped data from more than 30,000 computers at a Saudi Arabian state oil company in 2012.
According to the Washington Post the Cyber Command will soon include “national mission forces” to protect critical infrastructure such as electrical grids, power plants and other infrastructure deemed critical to national and economic security. There will also be “combat mission forces” to help commanders abroad plan and execute attacks or other offensive operations and “cyber protection forces” to fortify the Defense Department’s networks.
The commitment demonstrates that the US administration takes cyber warfare seriously. This week the Department of Justice website was attacked and disabled by Anonymous activists in response to the death of Aaron Swartz.
“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 fashion the Pentagon’s cyber security strategy.