Mission Systems Remain at Risk From Adversarial Cyber Ops

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In a report released yesterday by the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), missions and systems at the DoD remain at risk from adversarial cyber operations with operational testing discovering vulnerabilities that are considered mission critical. The DOT&E data for these assessments are based on 50 cybersecurity tests with Combatant Commands and Services and nearly 70 cybersecurity DOT&E events.

According to the report, there were instances in which cyber Red Teams acting as an adversary during training, were having more difficulty penetrating the systems. While this is good news for the DoD, they estimate that these improvements are not outpacing the growing capabilities of foreign adversaries and need to see improvements.

“There remains a gap between DoD cyber Red Team capabilities and the advanced persistent threat, and assessments that do not include a fully representative threat portrayal may leave warfighters and network owners with a false sense of confidence about the magnitude and scope of cyberattacks facing the department,” the report reads.

On improving cybersecurity operations, the report cites a consistent need for a cyber operator with adequate defensive technology and tools. Understanding mission-critical cyber terrain, unity of effort, and matching tools and skills to a task are listed as areas where cyberspace operations can see improvements for success.

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