Pentagon Developing Pre-Launch Cyber Attacks on Missiles

Discussion in 'Defense Industry & Policy' started by F-22, Apr 14, 2016.

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  1. F-22

    F-22 2nd Lieutenant

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    The Pentagon is developing cyber and other electronic weapons to attack enemy missile systems prior to launch as part of a new high-technology defense initiative, senior Pentagon officials disclosed to Congress on Wednesday.

    The use of non-kinetic attacks against missile system computers, their sensors, and other networks, along with other high-technology means to knock out missiles on the ground, is called “left-of-launch” defense, a reference to the location on a timeline of the process of shooting down missiles.

    Few details were provided on the plans for non-kinetic missile defenses that Brian McKeon, the principal defense undersecretary for policy, said were “underway” as a result of a new security environment that includes plans to use large-salvo missile attacks and other means to defeat current missile defense.

    Left-of-launch missile defense was raised in a 2014 memorandum from then-Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert and then-Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno to the secretary of defense warning that missile defense spending was “unsustainable” because of sharp defense cuts. They called for the more cost-effective “left-of-launch” strategy.

    Defense officials familiar with the research said the new, non-kinetic missile defenses include the planned use of cyber attacks and other electronic warfare means, such as electromagnetic pulse attacks, against foreign command and control systems.

    An electromagnetic pulse is the force emitted from a nuclear blast that can disrupt all electronics over wide areas. The weaponization of electromagnetic pulses has been under research for years.

    The weapons would be used after intelligence indicators revealed a foreign adversary was planning a missile attack.

    The cyber and electronic attacks would aim to prevent missiles from being launched by disrupting or disabling launch controls, or sending malicious commands that would cause them to blow up on their launchers.

    More at the link:

    http://freebeacon.com/national-security/pentagon-developing-pre-launch-cyber-attacks-missiles/

    The development of this capability could be game changing for the military.
     
  2. Technofox

    Technofox That Norwegian girl Staff Member Ret. Military Developer

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    This is awesome! The possibilities are endless. Jam launch controls and render the missile un-useable, or maybe introduce a sequence to detonate the missile prematurely, or jam communications to render individual missile batteries unable to function as an integrated unit, or spoof the enemy's IRS to show friendly assets in an area they aren't to send the missile harmlessly off course, or even send the missile screaming towards an enemy's own assets!

    Suddenly simply jamming their radar or communications seems oldschool.

    [​IMG]

    |_0 There's so much nefarious stuff that can be done with nothing more then cleaver coding.
     
  3. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

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    Im trying to think how this would be done with EW. You still have to get close to the missiles site to disable it. If we are talking about disabling a missile site in central Siberia with EW weapons then I think that is very difficult to do.

    Launching a cyber attack may also be difficult if the target is properly secured but a lot of military system are left over from the cold war may not be able to handle cyber attacks very well.
     
  4. Sven

    Sven Teh Viking dood Industry Professional Ret. Military

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    An individual system may be secure, but if it's networked it's vulnerable as there are too many moving parts that need to be secured and that leaves too many holes that can be exploited. The more you talk, the more people can hear you and listen in on your conversation. Some may interrupt your conversation or butt into it, or change the subject, or drown you out with louder noise or even silence (think radio silence to avoid electronic eavesdropping). But if you talk, someone can take countermeasures against you.

    Since the OP talks of missiles, lets look at a DF-XX series anti-ship ballistic missile and its command chain.

    [​IMG]

    Immediately we'll notice a problem with the system - it doesn't have a targeting method of its own. DF-21 is a launcher, not an integrated network, it lacks its own targeting methods. As a result the missile launcher can't be on a secure closed network, it has to talk and if it does it's broadcasting itself to our SIGINT and ELINT assets. If our ELINT and SIGINT assets are in range to detect emissions from a DF-21 launcher or component, they are in range for an electronic attack or cyber assault.

    "Ok, great. But the launcher can be hundreds of miles in land right? How can we target it without exposing ourselves to Chinese defenses"?

    That's a good question and it all centers around the vulnerability of the DF-21 - it has to talk. It has to emit signals that betray the launchers location. You don't need to target the launcher itself, its components are a vulnerability themselves and if you target them you can disrupt the command chain that feeds and controls DF-21.

    Since it can't target on its own, it needs to receive targeting data from OTH radars, or underwater acoustic sensors or submarines, or an AWACS aircraft or carrier borne attack platform. Each launcher needs to talk to command to receive firing orders and other launchers to avoid targeting the same target again and again and again just because the launch officer thinks the data he's receiving is good or timely when there might actually be a delay or datedness to that info and a missile has already been launched against the target.

    The more they need to talk with, the more entry points the US has to attack and the more China needs to secure. Working in EMSEC in the Navy taught me that we can't eliminate emissions, just suppress them, but there's always leakage - always noise that can be intercepted or exploited. There's always a vulnerability. And once you identify it, you can exploit it.

    Target the launcher and disrupt their ability to communicate with commanders or other launchers. Attack their controls to prevent a launch by disrupting the relay between the launcher and missile. Attack their backup communications like phones or radios, attack their coordinate download or spoof the data coming from an OTH radar to lead the missile off-course.

    You just have to be close enough. DF-21 simply has too many parts to be a secure system.

    ...

    He's a practical example that's more akin to civilian life. Your router and your computer have a special relationship. Both talk to each other, and both leak badly. I don't need to get between your computer and router to read or exploit the data stream being broadcast from either. I can be sitting outside of your house or even down the street, listening in on the leakage.

    But making matters worse for your security, I don't even need to listen to the router of your computer! If you have a smart phone, tablet, game console, smart TV, printer, camera, wearable, or any peripheral connected to either, networked or not, I can target that instead and exploit it as a less secure vulnerability that'll negatively effect your computer and router too.

    Hell, we don't even need to target the data stream. Your key strokes, tower and monitor leak unique signals that we can piece together and form a picture of what your doing. We can target these too with malicious code.

    And this is the core problem of a large chain like DF-21. There's too much that needs to be secure. It'll never be as a result and all it takes is one hole for us to wreck havoc on the system.

    ...

    And one final thing that I forgot. You may be thinking, "Well, don't they encrypt their data streams?"

    If they're smart, yes. They'll encrypt the command chain. But just as you can encrypt an email and send it so I can't read it, I can still read it by using a key logger to monitor you typing the message unencrypted.

    We try to suppress our leakage because we can't encrypt unintentional signals.

    ...

    I did a series on EMSEC on a different forum. If you're interested I can find those posts and post them here too.

    If anyone's interested.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2016
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  5. Falcon

    Falcon Major Staff Member Social Media Team

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    Good stuff, @Pathfinder I think you have your answer.

    It makes perfect sense because they have equipment that is used to locate the target, disable those then attack the missile kinetically. Hell you might not even need to do that if the risk is too high. It can't hit anything without knowing what to hit.

    @Pathfinder makes a good point though when he said that a lot of these gizmos were made in the cold war. AFAIK people were not as aware of security as they are today. Many of the vulnerabilities didn't exist, countries didn't have enough geeks to go out and find them.
     
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