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DOD Employs Proactive Measures to Counter Cyber Threats

By pursuing integrated deterrence, including cyber, the Defense Department continues to be ready to fight and win the nation's wars, said Ashley Manning, who testified yesterday before the House Subcommittee on Cyber, Information Technologies and Innovation regarding the fiscal year 2025 budget request for cyber. 

A Marine assembles an antenna.
Antenna Assembly
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Paul Hagedorn, a transmissions system operator, assembles a satellite communications antenna at Setermoen, Norway, Feb. 26, 2024.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Orlanys Diaz Figueroa
VIRIN: 240226-M-NT273-1256

Manning is performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy. 

Cyber challenges, she said, include: 

  • China's targeting of U.S. networks in prolonged campaigns of espionage and pre-positioning its cyber forces for future operations. 
  • Russia's use of cyberspace to target critical infrastructure networks, enable its malign influence operations and disrupt defensive military operations against Ukraine. 
  • Iran's use of cyberspace to create disruptions against Israel. 
  • For-profit cybercriminals who target a wide array of vulnerable sectors, conducting ransomware attacks that impact the daily lives of Americans. 

In response, the department is implementing its 2023 DOD Cyber Strategy, investing in a talented workforce and capabilities and presenting options to the secretary of defense regarding ways to increase cyber readiness, she said. 

Troops climb a tower.
Climbing Class
Airmen from the 747th Cyber Security Squadron complete a climbing certification class at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jan. 11, 2024. Cyber airmen conduct routine maintenance to the towers supporting the joint base and are responsible for keeping the internet and phone communications running.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Makensie Cooper
VIRIN: 240111-F-GM429-1009C

This is being done in close partnership with U.S. Cyber Command, Manning added. 

During his testimony, Air Force Gen. Timothy D. Haugh, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, echoed much of what Manning said. 

China poses the greatest challenge, he said, due to its "advanced cyber capabilities, state-sponsored cyber operations around the globe, and a strategic focus on leveraging cyberspace for military, economic and political purposes." 

A service member and two children operate a computer.
Cyber Class
Air Force Master Sgt. Jarred Dirito reviews an image with students at Quest Academy Charter School in West Haven, Utah, Feb. 14, 2024. The student team recently competed in the National Youth Cyber Defense competition, the nation's largest, that puts middle and high school students in charge of securing a simulated virtual network.
Photo By: Todd Cromar, Air Force
VIRIN: 240214-F-LS255-1003A

Also, Haugh pointed out that Russia's cyber campaigns prioritize sensitive U.S. government and military infrastructure and information and spread disinformation campaigns to influence public opinion and undermine the democratic processes.  

"I am confident Cyber Command is well postured to meet the ever-evolving challenges we face today, creating advantages for the department and the nation," he said, citing his team's work at "network hardening, threat hunting and information sharing to foil potential cyberattacks before they can materialize." 

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