IoT is Transforming Modern Warfare
The U.S. military is adapting to a world in which adversaries are getting more sophisticated. As we continue to see a rise of Internet of Things (IoT), the military’s ability to quickly correlate, evaluate and create value from data is key to have an edge on the battlefield.
TURNING DATA INTO ACTION
Today, the military gathers data through sensors on a range of platforms, including aircraft, weapon systems, ground vehicles and even troops in the field.
The data gathered is fed through intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems that process and disseminate the most mission-critical information, such as the position of an incoming threat.
To interpret the incoming data in real-time, companies, like Lockheed Martin, are using their knowledge in machine learning to increase automation when it comes to decision-making. This in turn leads to faster intelligence collection and swifter identification of threats.
Let’s assume that the military can capture every mobile communication in a specific region. The challenge is finding the manpower to look at all communications and detect suspicious ones.
This is where machine learning comes into play. Instead, machine-learning programs can filter through conversations and locate threats in real time for commanders to make strategic decisions on the ground.
IoT allows this information to be linked across platforms and weapon systems, developing an intricate warfighting network.
CREATING A WARFIGHTING NETWORK
The military is moving toward an integrated warfare approach.
Using 48,000 miles of classified communication network line, the Missile Defense Agency’s Command, Control Battle Management and Communications System, known as C2BMC, is one example of an IoT-enabled warfighting network.
This ISR system connects the different elements of the U.S. military’s ballistic missile defense system into a single system-of-systems to counteract threats across the globe.
“C2BMC is the translator for ballistic missile defense systems,” explained JD Hammond, director of Operational Command & Control. “It takes data from hundreds of sensors, radars and satellites and translates that data into a common language for the missile defense systems to interact and engage the threat.”
Let’s say an enemy missile is approaching North America, and a long range radar located in Alaska detects the threat. The data gathered by the radar is transmitted to the C2BMC system, which in turn, quickly correlates and calculates which interceptor missile to deploy and when.
While a commander ultimately decides whether to engage, the missile interceptor uses the data correlated from C2BMC to destroy the threat.
As C2BMC is the “wiring” that connects all the elements together, it’s crucial for the military to secure the network from intrusions.
SECURING THE NETWORK
IoT-connected sensors and radars collect and transmit data on the position and movements of U.S. troops and adversaries, supplies, and inadequately secured networks can provide the enemy with this intelligence.
“The benefits of IoT that make it attractive to the military also make the framework vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks,” said Hammond. “Our challenge is ensuring that the adoption of IoT does not create an opportunity to manipulate a device or network, steal secure information or disrupt the flow of data.”
Hammond cited regular “audits” of the system, which includes a team of hackers who come in and infiltrate the system to show how tools and capabilities would respond to an attack.
To mitigate threats, the defense industry is “cyber hardening” its networks, systems and sensors from attacks. Hardening involves increasing the difficulty of accessing or exploiting a system by layering multiple cyber techniques—such as adding detection systems, training personnel and collecting data on adversaries.
Revisiting the scenario above, let’s assume a hacker tried to disrupt the missile intercept by infiltrating the network. Because the system is cyber hardened, the attack is detected and blocked, and eventually evaluated to determine the intruder’s objectives.
By fully understanding an intrusion, the military can predict the characteristics of future intrusions with greater confidence and evolve its techniques and cyber infrastructures for future attacks.
At the end of the day, it’s not the IoT devices themselves that will deliver the biggest breakthrough—it’s the ability to connect them to securely exchange information and deliver it to users.
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