The Pentagon’s Cybersecurity Priorities Have Not Changed in a Decade

The US Army's Cyber Operations Center at Fort Gordon in Georgia. Photo: US Army
The US Army’s Cyber Operations Center at Fort Gordon in Georgia. Photo: US Army
A recently-released document highlights how little the Pentagon’s concerns and responses to threats in cyberspace have changed in the past decade. As American legislators debate the future of the military’s top cybersecurity headquarters, experts say that’s both good and bad.

By Joseph Trevithick | MOTHERBOARD

In 2006, the Pentagon organized a first-of-its-kind exercise involving a “directed professional attack” across military computer networks. The “Bulwark Defender” cyber war game was supposed to help military planners determine how well troops from different units communicated with each other while enemy agents hacked their computers.

The exercise would “confirm [the] importance of defending networks,” according to an official review. War Is Boring obtained the report—previously labeled “for official use only”—via the Freedom of Information Act.


Given the content of the briefing, the Pentagon comes across as “pretty forward-looking,” Samuel Visner, a cybersecurity expert and senior vice president at ICF International, told War Is Boring via email. They “did a pretty fair job of characterizing threats to their networks.”

The exercise pitted a mock enemy “red team” against US Air Force, Army, and Navy and Marine Corps personnel in more than two-dozen command centers across the country. Over the course of two weeks, the attackers tried to break in, damage and otherwise harass computer systems.

The red team hit the defenders with everything in its hacking arsenal—hijacking their printers, stealing passwords and slowing or entirely shutting down networks.

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