WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has approved a major expansion of its cybersecurity force over the next several years, more than quadrupling its size to bolster the nation's ability to defend critical computer systems and conduct offensive computer operations against foreign adversaries, the Washington Post reported Sunday, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
The move, requested by the head of the Defense Department's Cyber Command, is part of an effort to build an organization that until now has focused largely on defensive measures. The 900-member command will expand to include 4,900 troops and civilians.
The decision to expand the Cyber Command was made by senior Pentagon officials last year in recognition of a growing threat in cyberspace. The gravity of that threat, the officials said, has been highlighted by a string of sabotage attacks, including one in which a virus was used to wipe data from more than 30,000 computers at a Saudi Arabian state oil company last summer.
The plan calls for the creation of three forces: "national mission forces" to protect computer systems that undergird electrical grids, power plants and other critical infrastructure; "combat mission forces" to help commanders abroad plan and execute offensive operations; and "cyber protection forces" to harden the Defense Department's networks.