US Marines ramp up cyber warfare support

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The United States Marines has announced plans to expand a warfare group for both offensive and defensive actions in cyberspace.

The Marine Corps Cyberspace Warfare Group (MCCYWG), which supports the United States Cyber Command and Marine Forces Cyberspace Command (MARFORCYBER), intends to train marines in cyber warfare.

MCCYWG already runs in a small capacity, but the US agency plans to ramp up hiring and training to bring the unit up scratch as quickly as possible.

This week at an opening ceremony taking place at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, Brig. Gen. Lori E. Reynolds, the chief of the cyber warfare unit, said the Marine Corps will be brought “into the realm of cyberspace” and will participate in both offensive and defensive operations.

“We’ve always had the means to communicate and the means to protect that communication, but today we’re in an environment where those methods are more and more reliant on a system of transmissions, routers and networks,” said Col. Ossen J. D’Haiti, the commanding officer of MCCYWG. “So, the ability to protect that, the ability to control that and deny an adversary to interdict that, is crucial to command and control.”

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The US military describes MCCYWG as the “firewall” which prevents cyberattacks from compromising critical email and communication systems. The defensive element is focused on the protection of networks and data stored within, while the group says the offensive side is “what we can do to hinder an enemy.”

Vague, as you would expect, so make of that what you will.

The US is only one country of many which now views cybercrime and cyberattacks as a threat to national security. The US and China, for example, are constantly accusing each other of hacking systems belonging to each country, and China is well-known for using technological means to keep its regime strong and foreign influence under control.

Now we live in a networked world, digital threats can be as damaging as those in the physical realm — and governments are now sitting up and taking note of what cyberattacks could do to core systems, services and networks.

In a program description hosted by the US Marine Corps, the military group says that MCCYWG will direct Cyber Mission Force (CMF) teams in operations, train personnel, both plan and conduct “computer network exploitation (CNE), cyberspace intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and operational preparation of the environment (OPE),” respond to threats against the US and provide cyber warfare expertise.

The unit is expected to be fully operational by 2017.

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