Military Connection: Top Military Leader on Cyber Attacks


In the wake of the recent cyberattacks, Washington is all abuzz about preventing future attacks.

The November, 2014 “Sony Pictures Entertainment Hack” caused a media frenzy. Whether your news source is T.V/radio, internet sites or printed publications, regardless of your level of interest in politics, foreign policy, entertainment or gossip, you were aware of the Sony hack.

The attacks revolved around the release of the Seth Rogan/James Franco comedy “The Interview” whose story revolved around a fictional assassination attempt against North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. Hackers released private and sensitive personal information about Sony executives, including contract negotiationsand also launched viruses that erased data from Sony’s computers. Hackers informed Sony executives that they would continue their cyberattacks and release more sensitive information if the company released the comedy through any medium.

U.S. government officials publicly stated their beliefs that the government of North Korea was “centrally involved,” if not completely behind the cyberattack. Evidence obtained by the FBI linked the hack to malware and internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with previous encounters with known North Korean hackers.

On January 12, 2015, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) had their official Twitter and Youtube accounts hacked and hijacked by a group sympathetic to the Islamic State. The hackers posted pro-ISIS tweets and threats to American soldiers on the Twitter account, and two ISIS propaganda videos on the Youtube account. Both accounts were closed, corrected and re-opened within hours.

While neither of these highly publicized and highly embarrassing cyberattacks contained any breach of national security, they do remind us that we may not be as safe as we think we are in our cyber security.

On the day before CENTCOM had its social media hacked, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, commented in an interview with Fox News about how the Sony attack demonstrates that the U.S. military’s superiority on the battlefield is not as lopsided in the cyber world.

Gen. Dempsey, whose position makes him the chief military advisor to the president, has long called for upgrades in cyber warfare and security. In a June, 2013 speech, the nation’s senior military leader told attendees at a Brookings Institution forum about the increased frequency of cyberattacks, and the need to equip the military against such threats.

“This is the new normal in cyberspace,” Dempsey said. “Disruptive and destructive cyberattacks are becoming a part of conflict between states, within states, and among non-state actors. The borderless nature of cyberspace means anyone, anywhere in the world, can use cyber to affect someone else.”

Gen. Dempsey concluded his speech by saying:

“The rise of cyber is the most striking development in the post-9/11 national security landscape. We are doing everything we can inside the military to be ready to operate in cyberspace. I call on our elected officials and the private sector to match the urgency. Together, we must place this nation on surer footing against the cyber threat.”

A year and a half later, and the general’s words are still ringing true. Currently, the U.S. military and the federal government are in the process of expanding education and military programs to make the playing field in the cyber world as one-sided as it currently is in real-world combat for the U.S. military.

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Military Connection: Top Military Leader on Cyber Attacks: By Debbie Gregory