The US Defense Department has a new cyberspace strategy that draws lessons from Russia’s war on Ukraine and aims to use cyber operations to deter and “frustrate” US adversaries, according to a summary released by the Pentagon on Friday.
The new strategy, which could define how the United States military approaches a crucial domain in cyberspace, singles out China as the “pacing challenge in the cyber domain.”
The Chinese government “has made significant investments in military cyber capabilities and empowered a number of proxy organizations to pursue malicious cyber activities against the United States,” the summary of the new Defense Department strategy says. The department sent the classified strategy to Congress this week, according to the summary.
Russia, meanwhile, “poses an acute threat in cyberspace,” the summary says, “evidenced by its malign influence efforts against the United States and repeated cyber attacks against Ukrainian civilian critical infrastructure.”
An example of how US military hackers look to “frustrate” their adversaries came in 2018, when Cyber Command temporarily knocked offline a Russian troll farm spouting disinformation during the 2018 election.
Some context: In the five years since the last Pentagon cyber strategy, the US military has been more public about its willingness to use offensive and defense cyber operations to defend US interests. And Cyber Command, the military unit responsible for hacking operations, has taken on a greater role in defending US critical infrastructure, including elections, from cyber threats.
The command has also conducted an increasing number of so-called “hunt forward” missions in which officials travel to allied countries and, with permission, investigate hacking threats from Russia or other countries.