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Protecting vehicles from cyber attacks

Feb. 3, 2014 - 03:44PM   |  
By KEVIN G. COLEMAN   |   Comments
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Kevin Coleman is a senior fellow at SilverRhino and former chief strategist at Netscape. (File)

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The modernization of military equipment comes with multiple challenges. Have you ever heard of an initiative called “Victory?” It stands for Vehicle Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability, and is an initiative created to address the significant problems created by the "bolt on" approach used to equip U.S. Army vehicles.

Victory is a modular open systems architecture (MOSA), created to allow systems to share information and provide an integrated picture to vehicle crews. After all, the overall construct for modern battle systems is all about two things: A common view of the threat environment (battlefield) that is clearly communicated in what has been called real-time-enough fashion, and interoperability of all the disparate systems.

We are rapidly moving toward full integration of vehicles into our C4ISR systems with additional capabilities. With all these systems and electronics, protection is a must. It is unclear if the vehicle C4ISR systems will be hardened to withstand a non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon (an EMP generated by conventional means).

That threat became very real after a Boeing video demonstrating the CHAMP system was posted online in October 2012. The CHAMP systems is the result of a $38 million, three-year program. Given that the U.S. has the most modern military in the world, our enemies must be actively seeking advanced capabilities like this and we should not lose sight of the fact that battlefield cyber attacks on these systems are a real threat as well.

You would hope that with the problems produced by the “bolt on” approach that created the need for project Victory, cyber security will be built in and not bolted on as with most of our systems today.

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