US Defense secretary says cyber battle against ISIS will 'black these guys out'

The action against ISIS is the first time the DOD has acknowledged an active offensive cybercampaign

The U.S. is aggressively targeting ISIS in cyberspace, attempting to halt the group's ability to communicate electronically, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Thursday.

His comments build on those from earlier this week when, for the first time, the Department of Defense admitted to an active offensive cyberspace mission.

"There is no reason why these guys ought to be able to command and control their forces," Carter said Thursday morning at a Microsoft-sponsored event in Seattle.

Drawing a parallel with the use of more conventional tools of warfare like missiles, Carter said the attacks are intended to hit the heart of ISIS operations.

"We’re using cyber in Iraq and Syria the same way," he said. "Black these guys out. Make them doubt their communications, make it impossible for them to dominate and tyrannize the population in the territory they are and just whack away with this as we are whacking away with everything else. We have to put an end to this fast."

The DOS first disclosed its cyberwar operation against ISIS earlier this week, when Carter hinted that one tool being used was a denial-of-service attack. The DOD was trying "to overload their network so that they can't function," he said.

Offensive cyberspace operations have been in the DOD toolbox since at least 2013, when a DOD publication noted their use to degrade, disrupt, or destroy access to a particular online system. The DOD also used offensive tools to control or change an adversary’s information systems, it said then.

However, recognizing the delicacy of such attacks over public networks, the publication said that any offensive use requires "national level approval."

"This is something that's new in this war, not something you would've seen back in the Gulf War," Carter said during a Pentagon briefing on Monday. "It's an important new capability and it is an important use of our Cyber Command and the reason that Cyber Command was established in the first place."

Carter's visit to Seattle is part of a West Coast tour that has also seen him stop by tech companies in San Francisco. Since he became secretary of defense a year ago, he's been trying to forge closer links between the DOD and high-tech startups.

160302 d sk590 116 Tim D. Godbee/DOD

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter meets with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in San Francisco, March 2, 2016.

On Wednesday, the DOD said Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, would chair a new advisory board that brings Silicon Valley thinking to DOD problems.

The department also laid out plans to invite cybersecurity experts to examine its public website as part of the federal government's first bug bounty program.

Later Thursday, Carter is due to visit Microsoft's cybersecurity control center.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?