US military develops tactical tools for reliable data and cyberop action plans

WASHINGTON – The military is maturing technologies to provide soldiers in tactical environments with assurance in their networks and the information they receive.

Unlike garrisoned networks, the tactical network must be dynamic in that it must be able to be set up and demolished quickly while resisting probes from adverse capabilities, such as cyber exploits and electromagnetic interference.

As such, the Army develops tools to ensure that the information soldiers receive is trustworthy and suggests the right plans of action to defend the network.

The military is testing the tools during its network modernization experiment at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey which began in May and will run through July 30. NetModX is primarily for testing and the scientific community to put their systems into an operational environment and polish their technologies on the fly when probed by a real-world threat emulation cell, before giving them to soldiers for qu ‘they test them. It provides an opportunity for risk reduction before technologies are transferred for the contribution and use of soldiers.

“With the expectation of military networks to operate in a highly contested environment, be it denied, interrupted… the adversary continues to infiltrate and attack our friendly networks and computer systems. Therefore, human cyber defenders will need help to proactively defend the network at machine speed, ”Joseph Chen, computer engineer at the Army’s C5ISR Center, told reporters. “NetModX promotes field harm reduction experiments in support of the research community.”

One technology is called information trust, which aims to provide soldiers with assurance that the information they receive, such as a fire call, GPS location, or messages, is trustworthy and free from tampering by the government. ‘opponent.

The event tested three aspects, including an authentication service focused on insider threats and modeled on the zero trust architecture, a component focused on where the data comes from, and an aspect that uses machine learning to detect anomalies to ensure data integrity.

Another technology tested is called autonomous cyber, which detects cyber anomalies on the tactical network and provides potential actions to cyber operators.

While NetModX included both technologies last year, officials said the tools have matured this year and introduced improved capabilities.

The information trust tool had just started last year and was still in the process of assigning a supplier.

This year, Autonomous Cyberspace has gone beyond simply detecting and blocking a malicious cyber event to providing action plans for tactical cyber operators.

“The mitigation this year is totally different from last year. Last year was blocking a bad actor or something. This year, it is more of an action plan, and it is not just an action plan, it is several action plans, and the cyber defender will have the choice in which direction he wants go, ”Sanae Benchaaboun, a computer engineer at the C5ISR Center and head of autonomous cybersecurity at NetModX 2021, told reporters. “It’s up to the defender or the operator to choose whether they want to execute it automatically or just take actions and recommendations and go from there and execute them. “

Officials said the idea is to promote greater human-machine collaboration in which the machine suggests options to soldiers who can let the machine block intrusions or act on their own.

The next step for these technologies is to transfer them to events like Cyber ​​Quest, which kicks off later this summer, and future iterations of the Army Convergence Project where soldiers will have the opportunity to test and practice them. suggest improvements.

The military is also using NetModX to reduce risk for the operational threads of Project Convergence 2021 and emerging technologies for Project Convergence 2022.

Ultimately, the plan is for these technologies to become applications in the command post computing environment, a web-based system that will consolidate current mission systems and programs into a single user interface.

Officials said the military is likely aiming to integrate these technologies into the ’27 capability set or possibly the ’25 capability set, the military’s approach to modernizing its tactical network with incremental deliveries of technological improvements every two years.

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