Digital Conflict

By Kevin Coleman

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Kevin Coleman

Covert cyber operations move to the forefront

Not everything related to the cyber domain is limited to the 1s and 0s that flow across networks. There is a fairly robust physical component that is often overlooked in the way cyber espionage is depicted in the press, publications and especially in the movies. Deep cover covert cyber operations are not new and have been a part of modern day spying and espionage for two decades. What is new is the level of activity in this area by countries around the world, as well as intelligence agencies and special interest organizations.

Our military and intelligence communities know that superiority in the cyber domain requires a robust cyber espionage program. That is what has driven covert cyber operations to the forefront. “It is hard to imagine any conflict that arises today will not have some covert cyber operation associated with it,” said a source who asked not to be identified. When I pressed about the role of operatives in the models that are currently in use the source said, “Look it is not uncommon for some aspects of cyber operations to have boots on the ground in the specific area where the target of the cyber activity is located.” 

The stand-alone cyber mission is becoming  a much smaller percentage of total cyber operations.  It has become another weapon used by military planners and strategists.  It is the natural progression of this capability. In a presentation given nearly a decade ago, I talked about cyber covert operatives not as a standalone entity but a capacity of the modern-day spy. That has now become a reality that is impacting offensive and defensive covert operations.



Posted by Kevin Coleman on Jan 24, 2013 at 9:26 PM

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