Pentagon taking steps to secure US cyber infrastructure from attacks as war looms with North Korea

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kim jong un computerNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Sci-Tech Complex, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), October 28, 2015.Reuters/KCNA

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency recently reached out to BAE systems to develop a workaround for a potential cyberattack on the US that would likely be the precursor to serious acts of actual warfare, Defense Systems reports.

Basically the US wants a system to quickly identify cyberattacks and build alternative networks as a workaround, securing vital public and private infrastructure online.

“DARPA is interested, specifically, in early warning of impending attacks, situation awareness, network isolation and threat characterization in response to a widespread and persistent cyberattack on the power grid and its dependent systems,” DARPA program manager John Everett told Defense Systems.

Both North Korea and Iran have perpetrated cyber attacks on US companies and infrastructure that haven’t led to broader conflicts. But with North Korea poised to test another nuclear device, and the US signaling a loss of patience with the Kim regime and sailing an aircraft carrier to the region, cyberattacks may be taken as a precursor to war.

War between the US and an adversary “wouldn’t begin with a bang, but begin silently,” Peter Singer, a strategist at New America and author of “Ghost Fleet” — a novel that depicts a World War III situation with China, Russia, and the US — told Business Insider.

In a modern war between states, cyber warfare would be the norm, rather than the exception, according to Ken Geers, a cybersecurity expert at Comodo who previously worked at the NSA.

bomb farm uss carl vinson south china seaAviation Ordnancemen transport ordnance on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, February 4, 2017.US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Brown

In fact, the US has been engaged in cyber warfare against North Korea for years, and DARPA’s new project seems like it would only increase the US’s already considerable advantage over the Kim regime. 

According to Geers, because of the limited number of servers and access points to North Korea’s very restricted internet, “If it ever came to cyberwar between the US and North Korea, it would be an overwhelming victory for the West.”

“North Korea can do a Sony attack or attack the White House, but that’s because that’s the nature of cyberspace,” Geers said. “But if war came, you’d see Cyber Command wipe out most other countries’ [internet] pretty quickly.”