The US Air Force is spending $10 million on an effort to hack into opponents’ computer networks to “destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive, corrupt or usurp” their ability to use the Internet to their advantage.
The ability to hack into networks is part of a list of the military’s “Cyberspace Warfare Operations Capabilities” that it wishes to acquire, reports Wired.
Instead of giving the ability to conduct cyber strikes solely to the White House, the Air Force wants its Trojans and worms to be available to its own officials, including top personnel and operational commanders.
Last week, the Pentagon announced a new $110 million program to make cyber strikes a more routine effort in wartime military operations. “Plan X,” as the Pentagon named it, will officially begin on September 20, but Darpa has already invested $600,000 to cyber security firm Invincea to begin its research immediately.
In early 2007, the Pentagon declared that it “had no plans to shift its cyber warfare focus from a defensive mindset to an offensive one.” But later that year, the Air Force began developing offensive cyber attack strategies, which have materialized into budgeted plans this year.
Other branches of the military are also discussing hacking as a war strategy.
“I can tell you that as a commander in Afghanistan in the year 2010, I was able to use my cyber operations against my adversary with great impact,” said Lt. Gen. Richard Mills at a technology conference last week. The lieutenant general also discussed a Marine company that will be stationed at the National Security Agency to “increase the availability of intelligence analysts, intelligence collectors and offensive cyber operations … so that forward deployed commander in the heat of combat has full access to the cyber domain.”
Invincea, the company in charge of putting together the cyber security project, was contracted one month after it contacted the government with its proposal. The firm has worked with the government before, analyzing cyber attacks facing the US.
As malware becomes increasingly more common, the US has changed its cyber status from defensive to offensive.