DOD takes ISIL fight to the deep web
- By Mark Pomerleau
- Mar 03, 2015
The United States faces adversaries in both the physical and virtual world who are adept at harnessing technology to spread their message and damage their enemies. Leaders from DARPA and the Cyber Command recently discussed tools and strategies they use to maintain their technological edge and stay one step ahead of their enemies.
At the recent Future of War Conference, Dr. Arati Prabhakar, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, described how a revolutionary search engine is used to monitor the activity of adversaries. Memex allows users to more accurately search the contents of the “dark” or “deep web” to look for illegal activity.
Although only 5 percent of the Internet is accessed by the general public, Memex allows the military and law enforcement personnel to search, trace and track illicit activity much faster than previous methods. Memex has been helpful in operations from breaking up sex trafficking rings to monitoring ISIS activity, Prabhakar said.
Adm. Michael S. Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency addressed similar questions about ISIL during a New America Foundation cybersecurity conference recently. “We spend a lot of time looking for people who don't want to be found,” Adm. Rogers said in reference to monitoring the deep web for terrorist activity. Adm. Rogers added, the ability of terrorists to “generate resources, to generate funding, is something that we're paying attention to.”
Both Adm. Rogers and Dr. Prabhakar spoke to deterrence in the cyber domain. Adm. Rogers alluded to its immaturity as an effective strategy, with Dr. Prabhakar echoing similar notions. “Deterring conflicts with peer adversaries will require sophisticated high-end technology…. In fact, we're beginning now to have tools and techniques to start dealing,” with enemies and terrorist actors.
When asked about the realm of cyberspace as a domain of warfare, Adm. Rogers said that while the United States is better positioned than most nations, U.S. Cyber Command is not fully positioned to wage a full scale offensive in the virtual world.
Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.