Pentagon to boost cybersecurity force numbers: report

Faced with rising cyberattack numbers and becoming the target of Anonymous heckling, the Pentagon has decided to boost its cybersecurity team.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
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Cyberattacks and data breaches are becoming a common occurrence worldwide.

When it takes little more than a script kiddie or a downloadable toolkit to cause havoc in corporate systems -- or even transform a governmental website into a game of Asteroids as part of a protest, governments are in serious trouble unless they begin to invest more in the future of their digital defense.

When Anonymous took down the U.S. Sentencing Commission's website through a code distributed by the hacktivist collective for "Operation Last Resort," ussc.gov was transformed much to many's amusement -- but it underscored a serious problem.

If, with collective ease, political hackers can take down a website by not just instigating a denial-of-service attack (DoS) but mocking a government through creating a shooting game and distributing files, what will the next level be?

This outcome is something governments not only have to avoid, but be prepared for. The Pentagon currently only has 900 members within its cybersecurity force, but that is about to change.

According to The Washington Post, although the move is yet to be formally announced, the U.S. government will be increasing this number to 4,900 within several years.

Said to be at the request of General Keith B. Alexander, the Defense Department's head of Cyber Command, more staff will be assigned positions in the new-and-improved cybersecurity force to try and counter not only home-grown attacks against governmental systems, but also to "conduct offensive operations against foreign foes," according to an unnamed U.S. defense official.

No "formal decisions" have been made concerning the intended structure of the Pentagon's new cybersecurity force, and details are still being worked out, but the intended expansion would include higher levels of both military and civilian staff. This, in turn, would place the force on a similar level to other defense departments.

The anonymous official told Reuters that the Pentagon was working closely with U.S. Cyber Command to create the "optimum force structure for successfully operating in cyberspace."

Recently, a new cyberattack campaign was discovered by Kaspersky Labs. Dubbed "Red October" and on par with data-vacuuming malware Flame, the threat has been targeting governmental bodies, siphoning data and intelligence from mobile devices, computer systems and networking equipment.

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