Cyber ​​defense is not IT!

For the past ten years, cyber defense has been one of the major subjects of military questions. Constantly questioning what war is and could be, its form, its capabilities and its geography, armies have seen cyberspace as a theater of operations that has become essential in order to claim a certain superiority. The positioning of cyber defense in military organizations is very significant of the strategic intention and illustrates the capability ambitions of armies. It can interfere at the heart of operational military structures like a large traditional combat unit, or in the intelligence, security or electronic warfare directorates, sometimes in a command in charge of information warfare, sometimes finally as a service IT ensuring the security of computers.

Give cyber defense to IT departments and people in charge of Information Systems Security (ISS) and you will get a great tool for securing your office computers.

Give cyber defense to an intelligence agency and you will get a great tool for research and data collection in cyberspace. Here and there, in the world, intelligence has demanded that digital combat be devoted to it. Some services were then able to develop a powerful cyber defense thanks to significant financial capacities. The results of cyber operations are impressive as they bring quality data to intelligence.

Give cyber defense to electronic warfare and you will achieve its modernization in the digital world, the passage from a war of waves to a war of 0s and 1s. Electronic warfare can also be thought of as the first stage of an attack of military systems: digital theater entry would be the electronic warfare mission. The more conventional cyber defense attack would come next while electronic warfare would then provide security, intelligence and effectiveness measurement missions.

Give cyber defense to influencer ops leaders and you’ll get a great tool for tracking and generating insights, fighting misinformation and rumour, valuing military actions to turn them into strategic victory.

The most global field and which naturally links everyone is that of information, which also allows confrontation in other fields of conflict. This is the major trend today, the choice of Americans (1) and Russians (2). The medium is that of information, its components are cyber defence, electronic warfare and influence operations, in addition to the capabilities that we find in all mediums such as intelligence. Information operations are the future challenge of defense and participate more than ever in the clash of wills, often under the threshold of war and, in fact, in peacetime. When the traditional armed engagement tends to find itself more and more in tactical impasses (denial of access, terrorism, counter-insurgency, robotization, etc.), hybrid, multi-environment or “off-limits” operations favor operations of information as a power factor bypassing blockages in the field.

A very operational French approach

In France, understanding the new challenges from the start, cyber defense has followed this path of operations. The COMCYBER (3) has not been integrated into the DIRISI (4) or DRM (5), but directly to the EMA (6) with the Major General of the Armed Forces, being partly under the command of the Deputy Chief of Staff “Operations” commanding the CPCO (7) when it comes to digital combat. From its creation, digital influence operations have been part of this cyber command, thus helping to give it the image of a unit focused on operations. France’s position is therefore that of cyber defense at the heart of operations, integrating digital influence operations in an altogether logical continuum in today’s world, between digital and information.

The growing interdependence of all combat systems arising from the expanding digitalization of the battlespace demands the opening of cyber defense to fully integrate it into all operational aspects. Since the modernization of armies requires an almost permanent interconnection of systems, cyber defense contributes to maintaining the coherence and effectiveness of the force, just as it combats densification (8) of the opposing systems in the strategic depth, but especially in the tactical zone.

This very operational tropism might not be taken for granted. France is fortunate to also have a very strong history of “figures” and then of the ISS, which has had a profound effect on its security. Although this is a strong asset, there could still be a temptation to reduce cyber defense to an evolution of the ISS by positioning it as a technical IT component.

When cyber defense is only an IT component

The cyber defense approach as a simple evolution of the ISS gives it the main mission of resisting computer attacks. Their discoveries are unfortunately often treated by a simple computer action, by the deployment of a patch or the change of parameters for a more secure configuration. The objective is nevertheless laudable: to maintain the availability of the systems by preventing the attacker from acting. Any threat that can prevent the provision of computing resources is simply blocked by cutting off the access opened by the vulnerability. Therefore, this cyber defense is primarily dedicated to the search for flaws and misconfigurations, while detecting flows of attacks in progress with pre-established technical patterns.

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Cyber ​​defense is not IT!

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