Darpa didn’t pick Boeing to receive one of several contracts to develop concepts for a cyber range, a key national facility for figuring out how to conduct and defend against internet attacks.
So Boeing refocused itself, partnered with one of the winners, bought a half-dozen cyber-related hardware and software companies and announced its intent to reach across the company for expertise to provide U.S. government agencies like DISA, NSA, DHS, Defense Dept. and others with tools of the trade.
Focusing the effort for Boeing is Cyber Solutions, a division of Intelligence and Security Systems led by Stephen Oswald, vice president and general manager for intelligence and security systems. “Most of our cyber solutions we can’t talk about,” says the retired admiral and astronaut. But he did point out as events of note to his organization, the Russian cyber attack on Georgia and Israel’s spoofing of Syria’s networked air defense that allowed the unopposed bombing of a uranium processing facility.
Moreover, Oswald seems confident that he is in a growth industry. “This is never going to be over,” he says. “Adversaries get better. Targets are fleeting. An attack can be very subtle. I worry about what we never see.”
Questions about connections to other part of the company went unanswered. However, Boeing’s lineup of warplanes -- including the F-15E, F/A-18E/F and EA-18G -- all have long-range, high-power, active electronically scanned array radars that with modified software can be turned into high power microwave (HPM) weapons. When these energy beams or data streams with malicious algorithms are directed into the antennas connected to integrated air defense or command and control networks, those networks can be disrupted, filed with false information or taken over. Boeing also has at least worked on an electronic attack package to fit in the weapons bay – sized like those on the F-35 JSF – to create similar effects.
Additional clues come from the technologies that Cyber Solutions considers of interest – radio frequency identification tags, infrared, Scada networks that control critical fuel, water, petroleum and electrical grids, ZigBee self-forming mesh networks, biometrics and software defined radios. This could be translated, roughly, into a target set for cyber attack.
Company officials admit to staking out development in areas involving information sharing, network situational awareness and end-to-end cyber integrated solutions. That would seem to indicate a full weapons systems cycle, including attack. But Boeing officials spent a lot of time denying a focus on cyber attack or exploitation, because that’s the purview of government agencies, nor would they admit to any intention of developing cyber weapons.
Boeing also demonstrated two tools that it plans to sell – the Security Monitoring Infrastructure System (SMIS) and a Cyber Range. SMIS is an open architecture system that adapts to virtually any network to watch for digital anomalies that indicate an attack, analyzes the threat, presents options for deflecting or limiting its effects and then performs forensics on the event. SMIS, with an active defense capability, is already used internally by Boeing, says Barbara Fast, vice president of cyber solutions who is a retired Army general who served as intelligence director for the Coalition Joint Task Force in Iraq. “It adds the value of ferreting out what’s new,” Oswald says.
The Cyber Range – a quickly reconfigurable network -- also is intended to be a commercial product. Any network that must be protected can be duplicated and then assaulted with various malware to ensure its defense. Boeing officials would not discuss the converse capability. Any network that needs to be attacked can be duplicated as well and then assaulted until a way into the network can be found.