Dealing with Cheaters

There are unique challenges with carrying out counterintelligence in the cyber realm, especially having the situational awareness to know who’s doing what, said defense analyst and consultant Edward Timperlake during AFA’s CyberFutures Conference last week. “Can we ever get perfect [situational awareness] in cyberspace? I’m not sure,” said Timperlake, a former Defense Department executive and retired Marine fighter pilot. He added, “We always have to be aware of the unseen missile,” such as Army private Bradley Manning, who provided thousands of sensitive government files to WikiLeaks. A good deal of espionage is linked to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, said Timperlake. The Chinese state has a penchant to steal and plagiarize intellectual property, but that approach can be self-defeating at times, he asserted. For example, the Chinese reportedly acquired software operating codes for the F-35 strike fighter several years ago, explained Timperlake. However, the F-35 program continues to mature those codes, so the information that the Chinese obtained may be of questionable value, he said in his April 1 address. He suggested that this was akin to a classroom cheater stealing a midterm calculus exam and becoming complacent, only to find that the final exam is at a level three times more difficult.