“Cybersecurity is a team sport” is the cliché you’ll hear over and over again. But take a look at this year’s top headlines from Fifth Domain and the phrase proves itself true.
New leaders took over some of the most important cyber operations offices, both at U.S. Cyber Command and the Air Force. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense relied on a teenager to find a potentially devastating vulnerability in its sole file-sharing system. The Air Force had to form teams to combat malware on fighter jets after discovering a strain on an F-16 and civilians are now working alongside Army cyber operators.
After an engaging 2019, continue to read Fifth Domain to see how these stories evolve in the new year.
In October 2018, a secure Pentagon file-sharing site was taken offline for four months with minimal explanation. Turns out, a teenager had alerted a DoD vulnerability disclosure program that there was a “critical” vulnerability in the file-sharing platform that would’ve allowed an attacker to roam freely through the system.
The Air Force’s reorganization of its intelligence and IT offices led to a new deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations. Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson was nominated in February and, in addition to ISR, leads offensive cyber, defensive cyber and tactical communications work.
Back in April, an Air Force official said that the service discovered malware on an F-16′s memory loader verifier, prompting internal discussions about building up cyberdefense teams teams to protect critical weapons systems. Through 2019, the Air Force was working to establish what it called “mission defense teams" to defend avionics in a fighter jet from malicious code.
In mid-June, the team known to have the best operators inside Cyber Command got a new leader, Brig. Gen. William Hartman. The Army one-star was named head of CyberCom’s Cyber National Mission Force, which works to defend against cyber intrusions from nation-state adversaries, part of CyberCom’s “persistent engagement” strategy.
The Army created a new civilian cyber position to beef up its cyberspace effects capabilities and corresponding workforce. Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, head of Army Cyber Command, said at the time that the new position was “really a big deal.”
"What this allows us to do, essentially, [is establish] a formal framework and program that will allow us to recruit, develop, retain those members of our workforce that are specifically conducting cyberspace effects,” Fogarty said.