Brazilian Army Invests in Cyber Defense

Brazilian Army Invests in Cyber Defense

By Taciana Moury/Diálogo
May 12, 2017

The Brazilian government’s priority for cyber defense and protection from cyberattacks has led to the emergence since 2016 of a new unit within the Brazilian Army (EB, per its Portuguese acronym): the Cyber Defense Command (ComDCiber, per its Portuguese acronym). This new command plays a part in the National Defense Strategy, and in April it completed its first year of operation. ComDCiber’s main purpose is to plan, coordinate, direct, integrate, and supervise cyber operations in the defense area. The creation of ComDCiber is one of the actions taken under the Cyber Defense Program in National Defense. According to information released during LAAD Defence & Security 2017 in Rio de Janeiro in April, the project is valued at about $104 million and includes the development of hardware and software solutions, and the procurement of supercomputers and digital research materials to foster the growth of this field in Brazil. Brazilian cyber defense has evolved over the course of large events hosted by the nation, such as the World Cup in 2014, and the Olympics in 2016. According to ComDCiber, there was a huge preparatory effort made by the Brazilian Armed Forces in the periods leading up to those large events, including personnel training and technology investments in the sector. ComDCiber projects According to information from ComDCiber, several projects are being developed by this new unit, including the creation of a National Cyber Defense Academy. The academy’s purpose is to train civilian and military human resources so they can act effectively against cyber threats. Another project is the Cyber Defense Products Standardization and Certification System, which will create a viable structure for certifying products (hardware and software) for use in the cyber sector. ComDCiber is also working to establish a Cyber Defense Observatory and Cyber Defense Talent Management to incentivize research and development in Brazilian technology. The partnerships established by the Ministry of Defense and the Army Command are another method used by ComDCiber to update its staff’s technical knowledge. “Our service members attend courses, expos, and international exercises that allow them to gain expertise on directing exercises like these in Brazil,” stated the command in a press release. The unit will be organizing the Second International Cyber Defense Internship in May. In addition to the Brazilian public, representatives from various partner nations, including Latin American countries, will also be taking part in this event. Integration among the Armed Forces ComDCiber’s major distinction is its potential to integrate the three branches of the Armed Forces. The unit, under the command of Lieutenant General Angelo Kawakami Okamura, has a Joint Chiefs of Staff directed by a rear admiral, a Department of Management and Instruction led by a major general, and a Cyber Defense Center (CDCiber, per its Portuguese acronym) led by a major general. According to information from EB, the synergy between the forces allows for joint improvement. “The budgeting of human and financial resources, experiential exchanges, and procedural standardization, as well as the compartmentalization of information on cyber threats and security events, strengthen our defense institutions,” the EB reported in a press release. Navy and Air Force line officers assumed their duties on April 25th. That was the first time in the history of the Brazilian Armed Forces that line officers had taken on a role in another service branch. Brazilian Navy Rear Admiral Nelson Nunes da Rosa assumed the lead role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Brazilian Air Force (FAB, per its Portuguese acronym) Major General Mauro Fernando Costa Marra took the position of head of the Department of Management and Instruction. Command of the Cyber Defense Center will pass to Major General Jayme Otávio Queiroz on May 22nd. His new role will be challenging due to the degree of importance that cyber defense has achieved within the National Defense Strategy. “We are living in an increasingly connected environment. Cyber threats are real and can cause damage remotely. We need to always be ready,” Maj. Gen. Jayme said. In addition to the joint work done at ComDCiber, each service branch has its own teams, or Network Incident Response Centers (CTIR, per their Portuguese acronym), as set forth by the Brazilian Security Incident Research and Response Center. Colonel Robson Luís Lopes dos Santos, head of the Aeronautics Computation Center in Brasília (CCA-BR, per its Portuguese acronym), is responsible for coordinating one of these centers. He explained that there is a relationship of technical cooperation formally established between CCA-BR and ComDCiber. “Incidents detected by a CTIR or a FAB unit are shared with ComDCiber,” he said. For Col. Robson, ComDCiber has fostered cooperation between the Brazilian Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defense in the handling of issues related to areas of interest in cyberspace. “The involvement of CCA-BR technicians in working groups coordinated by ComDCiber is important for establishing a shared knowledge base,” he highlighted. Cyber protection in aviation According to Col. Robson, in addition to the incident response, CCA-BR also does cyber defense within the Aviation Command (COMAER, per its Portuguese acronym) for the purpose of raising cyber situational awareness on critical Information Technology assets such as systems and hardware, for example. CCA-BR technicians monitor incidents from the standpoint of network anomaly detection using selective triage. They analyze incidents, attempting to identify the origin and the vulnerabilities associated with them, and they are able to take actions to resolve the problem detected. “Active defense is also done using measures to prevent malicious activities in cyberspace,” the head of CCA-BR said. The work done by CCA-BR prevents events in cyberspace, which could potentially be harmful to COMAER, from occurring. “Currently, threats in cyberspace can have serious consequences for the operational and administrative capabilities of this institution,” Col. Robson warned. He explained that one effective defense measure has a direct impact on maintaining the FAB’s operational capacity to carry out its mission. “Without this measure, the Air Force’s resources would be left completely exposed to cyber threats.” For the head of CCA-BR, the evolution of cyber threats requires continually upgrading equipment and retraining technicians involved in cyber defense. “The great challenge is keeping up awareness, across all of COMAER’s units, as to its responsibility in applying preventive and defensive measures,” Col. Robson concluded.
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