For the military, many sides to cyber

The new domain stretches from sea to space, Raytheon exec tells security conference

Wajsgras BC cyber conference 694x463

Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business, addresses the crowd at the 2018 Boston Conference on Cyber Security at Boston College.

Attacks on computer networks and data can come from anyone, anywhere. And they can target anyone and anything.

Which is why defending against them takes the cooperation of everyone with access to the internet, a Raytheon executive told the 2018 Boston Conference on Cyber Security.

“We’re in this together, whether you like it or not,” said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business. “That’s the U.S. government and commercial organizations, critical infrastructure and private citizens. At any time in world history, we’ve never seen anything quite like this.”

Wajsgras’ remarks underscored one of the event’s themes – that cybersecurity, once considered an area of specialty unto itself, now extends to every component of business, public safety, national security and everyday life. FBI Director Christopher Wray, in his keynote address, said cyber’s broad reach should make people change the way they talk about it.

“At some point, we’ll have to stop referring to all technical and digital challenges as ‘cyber,’” he said. “On the one hand, sophisticated intrusions and cyber policy issues are very much at the forefront of the conversation. But we also have to recognize that there’s now a technology and digital component to almost every case.”

That same idea extends to the military, said Wajsgras, who leads the part of Raytheon that is securing a new ground-control system for GPS satellites and safeguarding more than 100 agencies that operate under the .gov domain.

“Cyber is really ubiquitous,” he said. “It cuts across all the different domains. It really changed the nature of how the intelligence community, and how the military, the DoD, carries out their missions.”

On land, he said, cyber “is right there with radio and GPS” in terms of giving ground forces new ways to mount attacks on critical infrastructure. He pointed to several examples from Europe and Eurasia, including the 2007 internet blackout attack on the cyber-savvy nation of Estonia; a similar internet shutdown that preceded a land invasion of Georgia the following year, and a 2015 disruption of electricity in Ukraine.

As for battles at sea, cybersecurity carries forward the work of cryptographers – specialists whose work in code-cracking and information security has played a major role in military history. He cited the pivotal Battle of Midway, in which naval cryptographers helped reveal a Japanese trap and allowed the U.S. to plot an effective counter-offensive.

“Some of the greatest minds that work for our intelligence agencies and for the military are securing our data streams and extracting intelligence from our adversaries,” Wajsgras said. “Very similar to what we were doing 75 years ago, but much, much more intense.”

Cyber extends to air warfare in several ways, he said, especially as modern fighter aircraft make more use of computerized information systems. That’s going to require extensive vulnerability testing – just like cybersecurity experts do on commercial networks – to root out vulnerabilities and patch them.

The U.S. government has taken key steps to acknowledge cyber’s far reach, Wajsgras said, citing the elevation of U.S. Cyber Command to a full combatant command. That move put the unit on par with geographic commands and those that oversee functions such as transportation, special operations and command and control.

“Cyber … is the most disruptive capability the world has ever seen. And even today when we talk about this, there’s so many more questions than answers,” Wajsgras said. “But all that’s good. I think that’s kind of starting to converge, and we’ll get to the right answers.”

Last Updated: 10/31/2018