“RF Jammed/Grid Down”: Prepare for Electronic Interference As Cyber World War Dawns
The revival of the Cold War attitudes between the U.S. and Russia are just the beginning of the an expanding scene of digital vulnerabilities and shocks to the system that could shut down the grid, cut off grocery and supply lines or leave millions without power in the cold. With global tension, the pretext could come from anywhere.
The coming era could be the age of electronic disruption, as ATMs, power grids, bank accounts, Internet servers and other important entities in society are intercepted, taken down, hacked or shut off by criminals and commandos in the ongoing cyberwar. Dissidents will be flagged and cut off from their accounts. Natural disasters will compound with these factors, testing the infrastructure and the integrity of the people themselves, who are in danger of devolving into civil unrest.
With the possibility of outright war with Russia or another power, DARPA is seeking advances in disruptive technologies for this quickly evolving age of electronic warfare that will center around domain dominance in a battlefield that has many complex dimensions. Russia has strategically positioned itself to take advantage of this tactic of modern warfare, and Putin has invested considerable capitol into developing these technologies, which utilize RF frequency to achieve a wide-range of objectives.
Now, President Obama is beefing up the cyberwarfare command, expanding its offensive engagements, and splitting its mission from more traditional NSA communication intercept activities.
During his final weeks in office, he gave new powers and agency independence to the dual-hat Cybercom mission that was created in 2009 under the NSA. Weaponizing data is at the center of its activities, which are now due to take on a new role during a time of heightened tension with Russia, China and other potential rivals.
via Washington Post:
With weeks to go in his tenure, President Obama on Friday moved to end the controversial “dual-hat” arrangement under which the National Security Agency and the nation’s cyberwarfare command are headed by the same military officer.
… U.S. Cyber Command, or Cybercom, needed its own leader to become a full-fledged fighting force…. Cybercom has since matured”
Cybercom’s mission is, when ordered, to disrupt and destroy adversaries’ networks. It is also to defend the nation against incoming threats to critical systems and to protect the military’s computers from cyberattack.
The NSA also has a defensive mission — to protect the government’s classified networks — but is better known for its role in conducting electronic spying on overseas targets to gather intelligence on adversaries and foreign governments.
“The Congress . . . should not place unnecessary and bureaucratic administrative burdens and conditions on ending the dual-hat arrangement at a time when the speed and nature of cyber threats requires agility in making decisions about how best to organize and manage the nation’s cyber capabilities,” [Obama] wrote.
One way or another, information warfare has dominated U.S. affairs over the past several years of Obama’s administration, where Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning figured prominently. The last election cycle saw claims of Russian hacking, however dubious, leaks from whistleblowing organizations, and a shadow government system with offline emails now partially exposed.
Propaganda flows down from official channels, and swirls around on the forums of the Internet; cyberwarfare soldiers at the DoD and NSA are engaged in data collection, profiling, infiltration and disinfo trolling operations online with risk groups across the spectrum.
And there will be much more where that came from.
An award for a contract posted at FedBizOpps reveals that DARPA is actively seeking to manipulate new strategies in electronic warfare to regain dominance in a field that this grant itself admits: “military use of GPS [and other electronic communication devices] has evolved from strategic advantage to vulnerability.”
In particular, as Russian and Chinese forces have become increasingly sophisticated, only state-of-the-art strategic technologies, tuned to precise frequency ranges are relevant. It is a highly sophisticated and secretive field. Part of the summary for DARPA’s grant states:
DARPA is seeking innovative ideas and disruptive technologies that offer the potential for significant capability improvement across the Strategic Technology Office focus areas. This includes technology development related to Battle Management, Command and Control (BMC2), Communications and Networks, Electronic Warfare, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT), Maritime, and Foundational Strategic Technologies and Systems.
Technologies and systems of particular interest would address challenges of operating in contested, denied, and/or austere environments.
Proposed research should investigate approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems.
1.1.1 Battle Management, Command and Control (BMC2)
Warfare is increasingly conducted by networks of platforms, weapons, sensors, and EW systems. The BMC2 of such networks poses complex algorithmic and software challenges, particularly with intermittent connectivity, limited data rates, and robustness against network disruption from electronic and physical attack. Of particular interest are BMC2 technologies and systems for mixtures of manned and unmanned systems. Efforts in this area should develop and incorporate realistic assumptions concerning allocation of functions between human operators and automated systems.
1.1.2 Communications and Networks
The success of military operations depends on assured, secure, communications at every military echelon, from the continental U.S. to the forward-deployed warfighter. DARPA seeks system concepts and enabling technologies that will provide assured high-capacity mobile communication capabilities in space, air, ground, sea surface, and underwater environments. This will include systems with and without access to infrastructure. The goal is delivering relevant and timely information to the warfighter anytime and anywhere while denying the same capabilities to our adversaries. Approaches to this goal include developing new system concepts and technologies that: improve network availability; increase network capacity and scaling; enable tolerance to network degradation; mitigate extremely high levels of man-made and natural electromagnetic interference; defeat network and RF exploitation techniques; and counter denial of service techniques.
DARPA is interested in approaches that leverage commercial infrastructure when it is available as well… These commercial leveraging approaches will need to consider the reliability, robustness, and security of commercial infrastructure, devices, and applications in a military environment. Also of interest are approaches and technologies for preventing or disrupting the adversary’s capability for assured communications.
Of special interest are: approaches for greater spectrum efficiency in complex RF environments; new spectrum use technologies such as dynamic use of space/time, as well as access to new modalities, such as high frequency Radio Frequency (RF) and optical polarization; intra- and cross-modality (radar, communications, and sensing) spectrum access techniques; spatial reuse through higher frequency operations; interference avoidance and tolerance; and large-scale testing of complex RF environments.
1.1.3 Electronic Warfare
The proliferation of highly capable RF technology has created a new emphasis on positive control of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. Many adversaries are increasing their reliance on RF sensing and communications in order to provide significant improvements to their offensive and defensive systems. This includes short-range tactical communications, long-range C2 communications networks, networked defensive systems, and RF seekers. DARPA is looking for system approaches for active and passive EW techniques in order to counter these advanced networked and agile systems using technologies such as distributed systems, coherent systems, disposable systems providing asymmetric capabilities, and close-in remote sensing coupled with advanced jamming and spoofing.
The EW capabilities that the U.S. military will encounter are also becoming much more sophisticated. Many advanced capabilities that were only available for use by the U.S. military are now available to be used against U.S. military systems. The commercial investments in RF materials, components, and subsystems are immense and the cost threshold to deploy high power, agile systems continues to drop.
1.1.5 Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT)
The U.S. military has become increasingly dependent on the Global Positioning System (GPS) for accurate and precise position, navigation, and timing in a wide variety of operational environments. However, as U.S. military operations are increasingly being carried out in areas where GPS is denied, unreliable, or not accessible, military use of GPS has evolved from strategic advantage to vulnerability. GPS access can now be readily blocked by jamming or environmental conditions. Many environments in which our military operates (under heavy foliage, underground, underwater, in buildings, and in cities) have limited or even no access to GPS.
As SHTF has reported before, every major branch of the armed services has been upgrading its technological capabilities as electronic warfare increasingly dominates the new age of warfare, where tensions are ever rising, and the threat of another world war has never been more apparent.
Though the events have been little talked about, air traffic networks, government computer systems, train systems and other vital infrastructure have all been hacked in recent months. The responsible parties have been rarely identified, and could represent a foreign adversary, a terrorist cell, punk kids and hackers, or tests with the shadow government’s own cyberwarfare army.
Here’s a look at Russian advances in the battlefield of tomorrow, today: