The U.S. military’s new cyberwar, which strikes across networks at its communications systems and other infrastructure, is the first major, publicly declared use by any nation’s military of digital weapons that are more commonly associated with covert actions by intelligence services.
The debut effort is testing the ability of the military’s seven-year-old U.S. Cyber Command’s to conduct offensive operations against an enemy that has proved to be an adept user of technology to organize operations, recruit fighters and move money.
But defense officials said the command is still working to put the right staff in place and has not yet developed a full suite of malware and other tools tailored to attack an adversary dramatically different than the nation-states Cybercom was created to fight.
In an effort to accelerate the pace of digital operations against the Islamic State, the Cybercom commander, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, created a unit in May headed by Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon that is tasked with developing digital weapons — fashioned from malware and other cyber-tools — that can intensify efforts to damage and destroy the Islamic State’s networks, computers and cellphones.
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