According to a senior U.S. military official speaking at the RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco, the US is increasing the number of its cyber soldiers it sends overseas to assist other governments in fighting hackers.
According to U.S. Army Major General William Hartman on Monday, the Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) has performed 47 such “hunt forward” defensive operations across 20 countries over the past three years at the invitation of those countries.
The CNMF commander, Hartman, discussed the missions outside of the conference. “The demand for that only increases, and they are not all the same,” he stated.
The project is part of a larger effort by the American government to enhance cooperation with international allies in the fight against transnational cybercrimes. For instance, several nations, including the United States, have been the target of some of the most powerful known ransomware criminal groups.
Hartman said that CNMF has sent 43 personnel to Ukraine, which has been fending off Russian cyberattacks while fighting what Russia refers to as a “special operation” there.
According to Hartman, “they are defense teams we dispatch, and (they) look for common opponents, locate tools, and find capabilities.
He said that the CNMF was closely collaborating with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the main U.S. cyber organization.
According to Eric Goldstein, executive assistant director of CISA, both organizations had worked together to prevent potential assaults by foreign adversaries against three U.S. federal institutions.
“We alerted the agencies, provided them with instructions, and started the emergency response. We simultaneously gathered all the data on the infrastructure of the adversary and provided it to CNMF, he said. Goldstein and Hartman declined to provide any additional information on the incident.
An Iranian cyber gang penetrated voting systems in a U.S. city that were used to report the 2020 election results, according to a second incident they revealed during a joint presentation at the conference.
The CNMF was concerned that the hackers may manipulate the system’s webpage to “look like the vote had been tampered with,” but Hartman said the agency withdrew access.
“There was no impact to any election infrastructure,” Goldstein continued.
Securing the 2024 U.S. presidential election is a “top priority,” he said, adding, “We want to make this a model – find the technical evidence to hand over to CNMF.”