$460M CYBERCOM Contract Will Create Digital Munitions

Display with system code.

Meanwhile, the military’s digital command hopes to recruit 6,200 operatives to thwart hacks against the US, aid troops overseas, and protect dot-mil.

The first job under a forthcoming $460 million U.S. Cyber Command contract to outsource all mission support involves, among other activities, a lot of digital munitions-making.

An 84-page draft task order released Sept. 30 runs the gamut of hacking and counterhacking work, plus traditional IT support activities.

The proposed solicitation was accompanied by a 114-page draft of the full 5-year contract. In May, CYBERCOM officials cancelled a similar $475 million project announced earlier that month. At the time, officials explained a reorganized request for bids with more details would be out in the fall. 

The initial work order will support “cyber joint munitions effectiveness” — by developing and deploying — “cyber weapons” and coordinating with “tool developers” in the spy community, the documents state. In addition, the prospective vendor will plan and execute joint “cyber fires.” 

CYBERCOM is in the midst of recruiting 6,200 cyberwarriors for teams positioned around the world. The command’s duty is to thwart foreign hackers targeting the United States, aid U.S. combat troops overseas and protect the dot-mil network.  

In the past, some military academics have voiced concerns about the unintended outcomes of such maneuvers. Malicious code released into networks could backfire and harm U.S. individuals or allies, they warned.

Due to the ‘system of systems’ nature” of cyberspace, it is very difficult to know exactly what effect” defensive or offensive actions will have on U.S. and ally assets “since we can’t be sure exactly how far out the cyber action might spread,” Dee Andrews and Kamal Jabbour wrote in a 2011 article for Air Force Space Command’s Journal for Space & Missile Professionals. “The difficulty in doing a damage estimate before cyber action is taken makes cyber friendly fire difficult to identify and mitigate.” 

There are dozens of bullet points on training support work in the contracting documents.

For example, the hired contractor will run exercises on “USCYBERCOM Fires processes” with the Joint Advanced Cyber Warfare Course, the Army Cyberspace Operations Course, the Air Force Weapons School, the Joint Targeting School and other outside groups, the documents state. 

Certain contract personnel supporting these so-called cyber fires will be subjected to additional background reviews and will have to comply with “need-to-know” classification rules, according to officials. 

Beyond unleashing malware, the chosen contract employees will help repel attacks on Defense Department smartphones housing sensitive data, according to the government. This assignment involves analyzing forensics reports on hacked mobile devices and conducting security assessments of mobile apps, among other things. 

There also is some cyber espionage work entailed. The selected contractor will aid the “fusion,” or correlation of clues, from “reliable sources,” network sensors, network scans, open source information, and “situational awareness of known adversary activities,” the documents state 

The professionals hired will probe lurking, well-resourced threats inside military networks and identify ”signatures” of the hacker footprints discovered, they add. The signatures, such as IP addresses and strings of code, will be used to determine if there is malicious activity elsewhere inside Pentagon and defense industry networks, according to officials. 

Another CYBERCOM duty will be proposing procedures for facilitating “all-source intelligence analysis of the foreign threat picture” — information collected from spies, data surveillance, public information and other inputs. 

A final comprehensive solicitation and task order are scheduled to be released later this month. The government is accepting questions about the drafts from companies until Oct. 7.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    View
  • Military Readiness: Ensuring Readiness with Analytic Insight

    To determine military readiness, decision makers in defense organizations must develop an understanding of complex inter-relationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level and, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit? Learn how to form a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness and make decisions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    View
  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.