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When we think about war, we usually think about guns and bombs, but in the near future, we may no longer do battle with traditional weapons. Instead, warfare is poised to go digital in the near future, emphasizing digital attacks, data theft, and long-distance attacks planned and executed by computers. With these dramatic changes on the horizon, we’re left with a pressing question: is the US military ready to defend against these attacks?
Auditing The Army
In an attempt to assess the US military’s ability to defend against cyberattacks, the Pentagon recently commissioned the first-ever Department of Defense-wide cybersecurity audit – and the results were less than promising. In fact, every branch of the military failed, including Special Operations. Though the Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he was unsurprised by the failure, the audit is a clear sign that the entire DoD needs to increase its focus on developing and adhering to appropriate cybersecurity protocols. Additionally, the audit did spur the DoD to make significant improvements to their financial system, enhancing its security.
Building Better Solutions
Based on the outcome of the DoD audit, the military is looking towards several innovative solutions, including machine learning systems. One of the major advantages of machine learning is that, using substantial amounts of data, machine learning programs can be trained to recognize system vulnerabilities, identify common modes of attack, and detect unusual data patterns. This allows programmers and other technology professionals to focus on more advanced operations; the computer is better at pattern recognition than humans, anyway.
Exploring Cyber Defense Applications
Proper cyber security protocols don’t just keep data on lockdown; they can also predict cyber attacks, automate defense operations, and can be applied to computers in non-traditional environments, such as aircrafts and trucks and remote operations facilities. Most experts expect that a wide variety of physical threats will be handled using digital defense programs in the coming years, but that ability demands more secure foundational systems, or else the defense programs could actually open the door to additional risks.
Preparing For The Future
In addition to machine learning protocols and cyber defense operations, the US military and military-adjacent groups are preparing for the future of cybersecurity in several key ways – and one place to watch in this regard is the Georgia Cyber Center (GCC). Located in Augusta, the GCC is a public-private partnership designed to combat cybercrimes and brings together several area colleges, as well as the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and the Georgia Department of Defense.
Similar programs could yield meaningful results for the DoD with a lower financial commitment. The program aims to help resolve the national shortage of cybersecurity employees, a leading concern in today’s job market. This type of program could also supplement existing plans to employ military veterans in cybersecurity roles.
For centuries it’s been clear that the military with the most advanced technology is the one that wins – from the musket to the atom bomb. Now that we’re entering the age of electronic warfare, advancement means emphasizing cybersecurity. Anything less will put the whole country at risk.