The US Army is stepping up its efforts to prevent the unauthorized transfer and dissemination of classified data.
According to chief of the Army Cyber Directorate Maj. Gen. Steven Smith, the military is shopping around for pre-programmed software capable of detecting “abnormal” behavior on Army computers by monitoring keystrokes, downloads and web searches.
“So I’m on the South American desk, doing intelligence work and all of a sudden I start going around to China, let’s [just] say,” Smith told the Army Times. “That might be an anomaly, it might be justified, but I would sure like to know that and let someone make a decision, almost at the speed of thought.”
Charles Beard, a cyber security exec at defense firm SAIC, told the Army Times such software would likely monitor activity on a public or internal desktop and respond to suspicious actions by alerting an administrator, shutting down access, or feeding the individual “dummy data” to see what he or she does next.
“It’s a giant game of cat and mouse with some of these actors,” said Beard. “We don’t want to be forensics experts. We want to catch it at the perimeter. We want to catch this before it has a chance to be exploited.”
The US Army kicked off the above-mentioned cyber security initiative shortly after Pfc. Bradley Manning, a former army intelligence analyst, was accused of downloading thousands of classified documents that ultimately ended up on the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks website.
A total of 22 charges have been leveled against the soldier including: aiding the enemy; wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet; theft of public property or records; transmitting defense information; and fraud and related activity in connection with computers.
Manning’s military trial is slated to begin on September 21 and could last up to three weeks. If found guilty, he will likely spend the rest of his life in the brig without the chance of parole.