Twenty years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the great threat to the nation has evolved into cyberspace: a new strategic environment where cyber actors can increase their power, degrade the power of others, and gain an advantage. strategic, said Army General Paul M. Nakasone.
“Our adversaries operate with a different scope, scale, and sophistication than anything we’ve seen before,” said Nakasone, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency. “Their tactics have evolved far beyond impersonation and the exploitation of weak passwords. Today, our adversaries target and infiltrate our systems by exploiting vulnerabilities in the security chain. supply and zero day, and our opponents are demonstrating a new risk calculation that has changed the traditional landscape threat. “
In virtual statements to the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, Nakasone said that by operating in cyberspace, U.S. adversaries can cause damage while operating below the level of armed conflict and targeting northern economies. critical infrastructure and electoral processes. Opponents have also launched persistent malicious cyber campaigns to erode U.S. military advantages and increasingly leverage social media to carry them out. [and] influence operations. These opponents also steal American defense secrets, intellectual property and personally identifiable information, he added.
Social media, as we know, didn’t exist 20 years ago, so there’s a lot of data now on smartphones and social media accounts that opponents can use against us, Nakasone said. Even fitness trackers and genealogical information are data points of our opponents, who can use this information for malicious purposes such as counterintelligence, social engineering or ransomware attacks.
China and Russia are the two biggest threats to the United States and China is the challenge of pace, he said.
“China is becoming more assertive economically, diplomatically, militarily and technologically,” Nakasone said. “It seeks to undermine a stable and open international order to establish its credibility and dominance in the global system.”
He characterized Russia as a disruptive threat that seeks to undermine the integrity and legitimacy of political systems. “Russia has demonstrated its ability to conduct influence operations in numerous countries, often combining effective target development with the power of social media,” he said, noting that China and Russia are leading to term malicious cyber campaigns to erode U.S. military advantages and threaten U.S. infrastructure. and reduce U.S. economic prosperity.
Nakasone said the United States must also actively deter rogue regimes, such as North Korea and Iran, which are unpredictable and destabilizing presences in their respective regions. “North Korea poses a major threat to the international financial and trade sectors by sponsoring the cyber-exploitation of financial institutions to illicitly acquire financing and evade U.S. and United Nations sanctions.”
He said Iran has also demonstrated the ability and intention to attack its region and the United States in cyberspace. “Going forward, we expect these and other adversaries to step up their efforts in cyberspace to undermine the interests of the United States and its allies,” he said. “These malicious actors will continue to identify vulnerabilities in the software of our governments, military networks and the private sector. And they will adopt common anonymization platforms, widespread toolkits and open source capabilities, all of which will make it harder to detect advocates. of networks and attribute their activity “.
These challenges in the United States will increase in both scale and scope, Nakasone said. “We have to raise the bar. We have to be resilient and we have to act. Our success in the new era of strategic competition will be based, in part, on our ability to develop partnerships of all kinds that recognize shared risks, shared goals and solutions. Our opponents have global reach. The partnership is where the power lies. “
Nakasone said U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency are working with the U.S. government, private industry, academia and international partners to achieve and maintain the superiority of cyberspace by building resilience at home , implementing proactive advocacy strategies and opposing opponents ’campaigns and goals. He added that it is through these partnerships and collaborations that the United States will hinder its operation from adversaries.
NSA expanded its ability to counter cyber threats and share information with partners in innovative and unclassified ways when agency leaders opened the Cybersecurity Collaboration Center in December, Nakasone said. NSA partnerships with the private sector allow the agency to quickly secure national security systems, the Department of Defense, and industrial defense base networks.
“Thanks to our existing public-private dialogue, NSA has been able to quickly identify and issue advice on critical vulnerabilities and commercial software for national security systems that could also affect millions of users worldwide.
“We are all here with a general goal: to secure our future,” Nakasone said. “And as threats evolve and our nation and our adversaries become more sophisticated, we must stay ahead of the curve. I am confident that as a nation we work together, we will face critical challenges.”