The Defense Dept. is beefing up its cyberwarfare capabilities, as evidenced by the cyberwar games at West Point last month, as the Times reports, but it's a slow slog.
A team of cadets spent four days struggling around the clock to establish a computer network and keep it operating while hackers from the National Security Agency in Maryland tried to infiltrate it with methods that an enemy might use. The N.S.A. made the cadets’ task more difficult by planting viruses on some of the equipment, just as real-world hackers have done on millions of computers around the world.Even so, the military has a long way to go to truly integrate cyberwar consciousness throughout operations. Only 80 students a year graduate from cyberwar schools.
Secretary Robert Gates complained the Pentagon is "desperately short of people who have capabilities in this area in all the services, and we have to address it.”
While the military has embraced offensive cyberwar, the emphasis is still clearly on defense. The cadets in last month's war games are headed for Afghanistan where they'll need to set up secure Internet connections in a hurry. And one of the key technologies for doing so is Linux, explained Cadet Brian McCord:
"It seems weird for the Army with its large contracts to be using Linux, but it’s very cheap and very customizable,” Cadet McCord said. It is also much easier to secure because “you can tweak it for everything you need” and there are not as many known ways to attack it, he said.