U.S. accelerating cyberweapon research

The Pentagon is accelerating efforts to develop a new generation of cyberweapons capable of disrupting enemy military networks even when those networks are not connected to the Internet, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The possibility of a confrontation with Iran or Syria has highlighted for American military planners the value of cyberweapons that can be used against an enemy whose most important targets, such as air defense systems, do not rely on Internet-based networks. But adapting such cyberweapons can take months or even years of arduous technical work.

When U.S. military planners were looking for ways to disable Libya’s air defense system before NATO’s aerial attacks last year, they discussed using cybertechnology. But the idea was quickly dismissed because no effective option was available, said current and former U.S. officials.

They estimated that crafting a cyberweapon would have taken about a year, including the time needed to assess the target system for vulnerabilities.

”œWe weren’t ready to do that in Libya,” said a former U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. ”œWe’re not ready to do that now, either.”

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”œWe need cyber options that can be executed at the speed, scale and pace” of other military weapons, Kaigham J. ­Gabriel, DARPA deputy director, said in testimony last month to Congress.

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Officials are researching cyberweapons that can target ”œoffline” military systems in part by harnessing emerging technology that uses radio signals to insert computer coding into networks remotely.

Wouldn’t *that* be something…

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