At a Department of Defense (DoD) briefing past week, it has been revealed that the United States Cyber Command is working hard at disrupting ISIS’s communication networks.
United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was asked explicitly if he was launching cyber attacks against ISIS at a recent Department of Defense press briefing at the Pentagon briefing room. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford was also present during the briefing which happened on Feb 29, 2016.
In response to the question, Secretary Carter revealed insights about the counter-ISIL or ISIS campaign, making a nod toward Syria in particular. The aim was to disrupt the terrorist group’s command and control in order to get the group to lose confidence in their networks.
The cyberattacks targeting ISIS were carried out by overloading their networks to such an extent that they cannot function.
Speaking about the new means to carry out cyberattacks, Carter stated:
So this is something that’s new in this war, not something you would’ve seen back in the Gulf War, but it’s an important new capability and it is an important use of our Cyber Command and that is the reason that [the] Cyber Command was established in the first place.
General Dunford then added that the cyber strategy is similar to that of a military one, which includes “virtually” isolating ISIS to limit their ability to conduct “command and control” as well as curbing their ability to “communicate with each other [and] limit their ability to conduct operations locally and tactically.”
The Element of Surprise Against ISIS
Notably, General Dunford spoke about the importance of not having ISIS know “when, where and how” the cyber attacks are being coordinated and launched.
We don’t want them to have information that will allow them to adapt over time. We want them to be surprised when we conduct cyber operations.
Crucially, there was a distinction drawn between cyber attacks and other conventional forms of attack.
General Dunford added:
It is to our advantage to maintain the element of surprise with regard to conducting cyber operations.