US Forces Taking the Fight Abroad

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Washington conducted “hunt forward” operations across 20 countries at the invitation of foreign governments, a top US military official said at the RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco.

The US military’s Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) has conducted 47 such defensive operations in the past three years, said US Army Major General William Hartman.

“The demand for that only increases, and they are not all the same,” said Hartman, CNMF’s commander, speaking on the sidelines of the conference.

The initiative reflects a broader push by the US government to improve collaboration with allies in the fight against cybercrime, which often crosses borders. For instance, some of the largest known ransomware criminal gangs have targeted multiple countries, including the US.

Hartman said the CNMF had dispatched 43 specialists to Ukraine, which has been battling Russian cyber onslaughts amid the war there, which Russia calls a “special operation.”

“Those are defense teams we send, and [they] hunt for shared adversaries, find tools and capabilities,” Hartman said, adding that the CNMF worked closely with top US cyber body, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Both agencies had collaborated on thwarting potential attacks against three US federal agencies by foreign adversaries, said Eric Goldstein, CISA’s executive assistant director.

“We notified the agencies, gave them guidance, and kicked off incident response. Simultaneously, we gathered all the information on the adversary infrastructure and shared it with CNMF,” he said. Goldstein and Hartman declined to comment further on the incident.