News

US to fast-track cyber weapon development

Warwick Ashford

The US plans to fast-track the development of cyber weapons to give it the ability to create the means to attack specific targets within months and even days.

The rapid development process is designed to respond to "urgent, mission critical" needs when the risk to operations and personnel is unacceptable, said the Washington Post, citing Pentagon a report.

This will be financed through operational funds and take advantage of existing or nearly completed hardware and software developed by industry and government laboratories.

Planning and testing phases have been streamlined for the rapid development of single-use or limited-deployment cyber weapons to be used in offensive cyber operations or to protect individual computer systems against specific threats.

The report to Congress describes a new level of department-wide oversight with the establishment of a Cyber Investment Management Board, chaired by senior Pentagon officials, the paper said.

The role of the board is to ensure co-ordination between military and intelligence cyber authorities and prevent abuse of the fast-track process because the cost of cyber weapons is often too low to trigger normal oversight processes.

The new framework also establishes a process for deliberate cyber weapons development that is designed for weapons whose use carries greater risks.

These projects will typically take longer than nine months to complete, but this is still faster than the development process for most Pentagon weapons systems that usually take years.

Defence experts said the fast-track process is necessary because of the dynamic nature of the cyber environment, which can render cyber weapons obsolete very quickly.

The report said that the US Cyber Command, which is based at Fort Meade and falls under US Strategic Command, will be in charge of ensuring that development of new weapons and tools is “undertaken only when required” and that “existing capabilities are broadly available.”


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