Whither our Technological Edge?

USAF Colonel Dean Hullings, of AFSC’s Cyber Superiority Division told a National Space Symposium audience that the US is behind other countries in cyber defensive and offensive capabilities. The only other countries in the mix, it seems to me, are Russia, the PRC, Iran, and Israel. We don’t need to be leading from behind here.

It’s not only a lack of interest on the part of an administration bent on withdrawing the United States from the world and abrogating our leadership role, though. Bureaucracy—not unique to any particular administration, but an entity in itself—is having a major effect, also.

The agency responsible for cyber-related acquisitions—of any type—is the National Reconnaissance Office, a DoD agency separate from the AFSC. The NRO also is set up to do satellites, not networks or cyberspace—it lacks the expertise here to do equipment, software, or personnel acquisition.

This weakness is overlain by the DoD’s poor acquisition process.

Just getting through the budget system takes about two years. Add the requirements process and you’re talking another two years. That means you are about three years behind the latest technologies, thanks to Moore’s Law.

And, again, there’s that bit about understanding what it is that’s being acquired, whether by NRO or DoD generally:

[F]oreign suppliers might build code into chips or firmware to thwart or warp how a US weapon works….

But that’s not enough of a threat.  There’s this, too:

Militaries have been messing with each other’s radios and radars for generations, transmitting deceptive signals to spoof and jam them. But if the enemy’s radios and radars are run by computers—and most now are—you can also transmit signals to hack them. Then, if the enemy’s computers are linked together—and America’s certainly are—your virus can spread throughout their network.


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