Call For Papers

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The inaugural U.S. based International Conference on Cyber Conflict will take place 21-23 October 2016 in Washington D.C.  Focusing on a theme of Protecting the Future CyCon U.S. seeks to create greater information exchange among industry, academia, and government entities at both the national and international levels. The issues to be covered include the future of international cooperation, imminent technical challenges and requirements, forthcoming conflicts in cyberspace, and the potential for new legal frameworks, standards, and regulations.

CyCon U.S. is organized by the Army Cyber Institute at West Point, in collaboration with the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence.  The conference aims to bring together decision-makers and experts from diverse backgrounds to approach the conference theme of Protecting the Future from legal, technology, and strategy perspectives, often in an interdisciplinary manner.

To be considered for CyCon U.S. authors need to complete a full paper submission to EasyChair by July 8th, 2016.  The Army Cyber Institute will notify selected authors by August 5th, 2016.  Please see the “CyCon U.S. Call For Papers” page to download our Call For Papers PDF, more information on Style Guidance, and a link to our EasyChair submission site.

Download the inaugural Cyber Defense Review issue here!


The Journal Online

Maximizing Flexibility: Mitigating Institutionalized Risk in the Cyber Mission Force

Leaders increasingly focus on the growing risk to national security in cyberspace. Today, there is little need to describe the dynamic and unpredictable nature of cyberspace, a wide and growing threat landscape, and rapidly evolving threat capabilities and tactics. Despite tremendous resources dedicated to securing cyberspace, threats always seem to find a way. In corporate board rooms, cybersecurity means accepting this reality and taking internal defensive measures to mitigate material risk.[1] But the private sector is not defenseless: the DoD established US Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and its Service components as part of a full Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership & Education, Personnel, and Facilities (DOTMLPF) solution for full spectrum cyberspace operations. The country deserves nothing less, but the dynamic nature of cyberspace uniquely challenges DOTMLPF development because of its premise on accurately assessing future capabilities requirements – a major challenge for cyberspace! Acknowledging that capabilities evolve rapidly in cyberspace, the Commander of USCYBERCOM (CDRUSCYBERCOM) describes the imperative to maintain maximum flexibility of capabilities.[2] However, USCYBERCOM’s DOTMLPF solution – the Cyber Mission Force (CMF)[3] – is composed of individual work roles, team constructs, and employment concepts that are highly standardized for all Services, and narrowly focus on specific missions. Highly standardizing the CMF suppresses the unique strengths and diversity of capabilities inherent in the Services. Narrowly focusing individuals and organizations reduces Combatant and Joint Force Commanders’ future capabilities deployment options. Ultimately, a highly standardized and mission-focused CMF degrades the flexibility necessary to mitigate risks of the unknown in future cyberspace operations. This is analogous to an investment portfolio that lacks diversity of assets and therefore risks complete bankruptcy if the...

Division Cyber Operations

Modern adversaries can now integrate cyber operations into military plans. Recent events have shown that rival governments can not only develop cyber-attack plans, but synch them to achieve national goals. The U.S. Department of Defense must begin integrating and normalizing the use of cyber effects. While there are numerous methods to begin that process, the key is choosing a method and beginning the long process of training in its employment. The primary level this training should be performed is at the Army Division level. Often, the division is the first major headquarters that can develop a list of requirements to submit to the Joint Task Force Headquarters or the Combatant Command. With that in mind, training at home station and during operational level exercises is absolutely necessary. Simulation technology will catch up with cyber operations in due course, but this is no reason to not begin training now. As a military, the US faces adversaries that have proven their ability to integrate offensive cyber effects from the tactical up to the strategic level. Though multiple methods exist to request and execute Cyber Operations (CO) at the division level, the bigger and more looming problem is the lack of training in utilizing these effects, and being ready to put these effects to use on the battlefield. For the United States to keep pace with near-peer nations, it must train on and prepare to use these effects in a real-world combat environment. What is Available to Division Planners?  The U.S. Army Operating Concept states that a critical component to a strategic victory is being able to present the enemy with multiple,...

Applied Research in Support of Cyberspace Operations: Difficult, but Critical

, and Abstract Cyber security as a work domain and commercial sector is relatively new, but has been maturing rapidly over the past 20 years. Cyberspace operations, on the other hand, are synchronized military activities to identify, degrade and/or deceive threat actors in cyberspace. Cyberspace operations are inherently dynamic due to changing technology and tactics of malicious actors. Recent increases in the number and scale of cyber incidents have illustrated the need for improved coordination across the Cyber Mission Force as well as improved feedback and accelerated technology transition between operational research, and development communities. This paper presents arguments for improving cyberspace operations with sustained efforts to understand cyber work and the impacts of technologies on the people who perform it. The Cyber Immersion Lab, operated by USCYBERCOM, is an activity that is demonstrating the strengths of this approach.   Cyberspace operations is not cyber security  The importance of cyber security is manifest across our traditional enterprise information technology systems. Our human and military affairs are network enabled, and therefore potentially vulnerable. The reach of cyber-physical systems is also expanding rapidly, going beyond infrastructure (e.g., the utilities, water resource management, and food supply protection) and entering everything from automotive technology, to household and healthcare networks. A major effort is underway to develop the next generation of cyber security experts through the establishment of ‘academic centers of excellence’ and cyber security programs at a great many US colleges and universities. This matter is particularly acute because the current workforce must possess a great deal of knowledge and a high degree of skill. Cyber security as a work domain and commercial sector has...

How Do Cyber Operations Look in 2025?

INTRODUCTION The United States military has made significant strides to counter the increasing number of worldwide cyber threats. Recently, the U.S. Army created a Cyber Branch as the newest of its basic branches. Now the transition becomes necessary to integrate the Cyber Branch into its important, future everyday role on the battlefield. Currently, most of the cyber force is congregated in certain branch specific areas. This allows for effective command and control of these units, but limits their operational utility. Despite being able to access cyberspace from anywhere in the world, using cyber to its full capability requires adaptation at the tactical level, and on the battlefield. The definition of cyber is “of, relating to, or involving computers or computer networks.”[1] A dedicated cyber force is important for defense and offense alike on the national stage, but what about cyber on the battlefield? With the increase of computers and accompanying networks on the battlefield, a deployable cyber force becomes a necessity. One of the ‘game changers’ on the modern battlefield are the multiple missions conducted by U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). These highly trained professionals have been rapidly deployed worldwide in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now with US military operations in Afghanistan transitioning, special ops missions will stay constant. With over 66,000 personnel assigned to USSOCOM, and more than a $10B budget, this is one segment of the military that is not decreasing in size.[2] Operations occur worldwide, from the Middle East to South America to Africa. This force is focused on US strategic interests, while operating with a reduced signature to accomplish their...

Maintaining Massive Networks Through Automation And Management Tools

Abstract: Computer networks are no longer the isolated, small, and static webs of the 1970s. With the number of devices connected to the internet quickly surpassing the world’s population, the ability to manage massive networks has become increasingly difficult. Additionally, the variety of devices which now access networks has gone from single home computers to include watches, tablets, smart phones, and all types of vehicles. This increase in size and complexity has created a huge burden on network security professionals. The amount of data entering and exiting many networks far exceeds what a network security staff is able to effectively monitor. With the help of automation tools and modern management strategies these challenges can be overcome. Network security professionals need to look to tools such as Splunk and the Meraki Cloud Platform to intelligently filter and focus on critical pieces of data. Additionally, they need to utilize strategies such as the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program to make error detection and response fluid and systematic.   Modern computer networks are difficult to maintain, monitor, and protect. Their boundaries are amorphous, they process massive amounts of data, and cyber-attacks occur daily, which require real-time responses.  When computer networks were first utilized in the 1970s by the Department of Defense, they were tools used to exchange data for research purposes.[1] These networks were largely static compared to todays. Now, networks are constantly changing, and are used for more than just communication, and include shopping, finances, and data storage. The lines for where a network begins and ends are often blurred as devices from employees, customers, and contractors are connected and...

Blogs

The Number One Vulnerability in the Future of Cyber Security: A Critical Lesson for all Organizations

Since 1958, NASA has been the foremost symbol of American excellence in science and exploration, inspiring generations of engineers around the globe to achieve the impossible through advanced technology. With each of its defining events, NASA pushes humanity further into the future, bringing scientists more information about our universe than ever dreamt possible. But while NASA was reaching for the stars, other forces were secretly at work. In the dark recesses of the agency’s computers and network servers, intruders were lurking. After months of covert access, a hacktivist group called AnonSec obtained 276GB of sensitive data including flight logs, videos, and personal information from thousands of employees (Thalen 2016). This post examines how such an established institution of advanced technology could fall prey to cyber hacking, the glaring warning signs, and the one key lesson all organizations should learn from this historical event. The Back Story What sets the 2014 NASA data breach apart from other hacking events is the unprecedented insight provided by the hackers themselves. AnonSec, a hacktivist group claiming responsibility for compromising over 720 websites and networks, claimed the NASA breach. To support their claim they posted large quantities of supporting evidence. AnonSec also publically-posted paper called “Zine”, detailing on how they gained access to NASA’s networks and computer systems, the content they obtained, and why. Although their writings appear to focus on exposing drone and “chemtrail” technology, this was not their primary objective. When AnonSec initially hacked NASA they were looking for “interesting/profitable” data on the NASA networks (AnonSec 2015). But as they dug deeper into the systems, they discovered more than they were originally...

Indiana Exercising Plans to Combat Cyber Threats: Preparing for CRIT-EX 2016

, and On the 21st and 22nd of March, 2016, Indiana hosted its inaugural Defense Cyber Summit (DCS), which aimed to advance the state’s cyber readiness and preparations against a cyberwarfare attack. Spurred on by Admiral Michael Rogers, the Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, who in 2014 called cybersecurity “the ultimate team sport,” Indiana has purposefully adopted a culture of collaboration between government organizations, private firms, non-profits, and academia to improve the state’s response and resiliency to a significant cyber incident. This team approach will counter cyberattacks intent on degrading Indiana’s economic capacity and threating the critical services of its citizens [1]. Under the umbrella of the Applied Research Institute (ARI), organizations such as Purdue University, Indiana University, Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, the Cyber Leadership Alliance, the Indiana National Guard, and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security have partnered together to address and propose solutions to Indiana’s cyber security challenges. This effort is boosted by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment support of nearly $16.3 million that is funded through a grant from the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership Foundation. The ARI is working to foster collaboration, research, and problem solving on cyber threats to Indiana’s critical infrastructure [2]. Purdue University Professor Joe Pekny welcomes attendees to the Inaugural Defense Cyber Summit (photo by Tony Chase)   The DCS concept was conceived during visits to US service academies by an Indiana delegation. Representatives from Purdue’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, the Purdue Research Foundation, and the Cyber Leadership Alliance, had originally concentrated on partnering Purdue University with the service academies in order to provide the most cutting-edge knowledge and technology to...

Big Data is Dead, Long Live Big Data

The Gartner Hype Cycle, which assigns emerging technologies into 5 regions: Innovation Trigger, Peak of Inflated Expectations, Trough of Disillusionment, Slope of Enlightenment and Plateau of Productivity. In 2014, Big Data was at the edge of the Peak of Inflated Expectations, where the hype has already generated an enormous amount of goodwill through amazing success stories, and on a descent towards the Trough of Disillusionment, where the rate of new successes relative to the Peak creates a depressed sense of its novelty. Big Data fell off the chart in 2015. So is Big Data dead? Not so says Gartner analyst Nick Heudecker, whose blog post is entitled “Big Data Isn’t Obsolete. It’s Normal’’ [0b]. An in-depth look of how Big Data fell off Gartner’s list is available for purchase (or via a Gartner account) [0c], but for those whose pocketbooks or (organizations’ pocketbooks) don’t allow, multiple avenues have indicated that the Internet of Things have emerged to take over Big Data’s hype [1-3]. I would posit a slightly different interpretation: as Big Data has normalized, considering Big Data as its own topic has been eschewed in exchange for considering its various theories (data mining, machine learning, natural language processing, etc.) and resulting technologies (Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, etc.) as their own entities. And, in my opinion, rightly so. Big Data may be off the hype cycle, but it maintains healthy funding: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has increased their spending on programs with a Big Data component from $200M in FY14 to $242M in FY15 to $243M in FY16, with 4 programs receiving more than $20M...

Sticks and Stones – Training for Tomorrow’s War Today

and ‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.’ – Albert Einstein Technology is great, when it works the way we want it to. Over the last couple years it seems the ever-mounting stream of hacks could leave even the most stoic of technologists cringing. As researchers at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point, our task is to be forward thinking and anticipate the hill after next. We are one part of the Army’s robust effort to address cyberspace issues of today and tomorrow. Along with our cross-service and cross-agency partners we are making progress: we are working our way through a highly disruptive era in technology and politics to find solutions ensuring the security of the United States. At the same time, as we step forward into the complexity of a fully integrated future, we must not lose sight as a military of the fundamentals of fighting and defending the security and interests of the nation. The more the tools and gadgets of modern warfare are challenged by state and non-state actors, the more critical it becomes that our men and women in uniform maintain the fundamental skills of warriors from previous generations. Networked warfare and cyber warfare are but two of many catch phrases of the last couple of decades rising to prominence. These are concepts that we must continue build on to improve our precision, coordination and efficiency as defenders of the nation’s security and interests. Yet despite these advances, the US military must also be prepared to operate in a...

In Cyber, Time is of the Essence

Cyber is becoming increasing driven by automated process while humans are still operating at human speed. In my view, one of the major weaknesses in larger-scale cyber defense planning is the perception there is time to lead a cyber defense during attack. It is likely that a major attack is automated and premeditated. If it is automated, the systems will execute the attacks at computational speed. In that case no political or military leadership would be able to lead an effective defense for one simple reason – it has already happened before they react. A premeditated attack is planned maybe years in advance, and if automated, the execution of a massive number of exploits will be limited to minutes. Therefore, future cyber defense would rely on components of artificial intelligence that can assess, act, and mitigate at computational speed. Naturally, this is a development that does not happen overnight. In an environment where the actual digital interchange occur at computational speed, the only thing the government can do is to prepare, give guidelines, set rules of engagement, disseminate knowledge to ensure a cyber resilient society, and let the coders prepare the systems to survive in a degraded environment. Another important factor is how these cyber defense measures can be reversed engineered and how visible they are in a pre-conflict probing wave of cyber-attacks. If the preset cyber defense measures can be “measured up” early in a probing phase of a cyber conflict it is likely  the defense measures can through reverse engineering become force multipliers for the future attacks – instead of bulwarks against the attacks. So we enter...