As more and more systems get hacked by individuals with bad intentions, the United States government is working overtime to thwart potential security breaches. Now, U.S. Cyber Command (“CYBERCOM”) has issued a proposed $460 million contract to outsource mission support. The support involves a number of tasks including digital munitions-making.
A 114-page draft of the 5-year contract accompanied the request for bids.
The initial work order requests the development of “cyber joint munitions effectiveness” by creating and deploying “cyber weapons” and working with those in the spy community. Additionally, the successful bidder will develop, plan and execute joint “cyber fires.”
CYBERCOM is currently recruiting 6,200 “cyberwarriors” to be stationed around the globe. Their primary duty is to prevent foreign hackers from targeting the United States, help United States troops overseas and to protect the dot-mil network.
Some experts express concerns that unleashing cyberwarriors who work closely with characters in the spy community may have unintended results - such as the release of malicious code throughout the the United States networks.
Dee Andrews and Kamal Jabbour wrote in a 2011 article for Air Force Space Command’s Journal for Space & Missile Professionals that, “Due to the ‘system of systems’ nature” of cyberspace, it is extremely difficult to know exactly how the defensive or offensive moves will have on the United States and its ally assets since we can’t be sure exactly how far out the cyber action might spread. The difficulty in doing a damage estimate before cyber action is taken makes cyber friendly fire difficult to imagine and identify.”
The CYBERCOM proposal outlines numerous requests for training support. As an example, the successful contractor will complete exercises on “USCYBERCOM Fires processes” with the Joint Advanced Cyber Warfare Course and the Air Force Weapons School, among others.
In addition to releasing malware, the hired contractor employees will help prevent and repel attacks on Defense Department mobile phones with access to secure data. Analyzing forensics reports and conducting security assessment of applications are included in the assignments.
Cyber espionage is also part of the plan. This will entail digging deep into the underbelly of cyberspace and gaining “situational awareness of known adversary activities.”
Essentially, CYBERCOM is hiring a contractor to unleash cyber threats and to prevent them from being unleashed against the United States. It is yet another attempt to stay one step ahead of the hackers that seek to harm the nation.