Volume 4, Issue 2 (2020) Technological Challenges in Cyberspace

2020: A Year of Great Challenges

Foreword by Dr. Tomas Pena

The year 2020 will go down in history as the beginning of a new era in national security. As the military prepared to defend against interference in the 2020 Presidential Election, a biological adversary spread throughout the globe testing the stability of governments, economies, and peoples’ wills. The sudden transition to a work-from-home labor force introduced new vulnerabilities and subsequent realizations of the limits of human responses to global cyber threats. Successful defense against external interference in elections was overshadowed by the national-level effects of costly ransomware and software supply chain attacks in the following months. Dependency on a human-speed response to cyber-attacks has itself created vulnerabilities which are easily exploited by savvy adversaries. As the new decade ushers in the latest terrestrial cellular and space communications advancements, special attention must be paid to building capabilities and processes able to respond to cyber-attacks at machine speed and developing the skills required to operate them.

This issue addresses critical topics relevant to today’s cyber warfare. The article by Dr. Joseph Shaffer, LTC, USA (Retired) provides a historical analysis of election interference by Russia and the U.S. Information and Cyberspace Policy response. It clearly describes national competition in the information age and the role of the military in supporting the national strategy. While it is widely recognized that machine-speed responses are required to effectively defend against cyber-attacks, the article by Dr. Jim Q. Chen and Mr. Thomas Wingfield, Esq., former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy, addresses legal and ethical problems arising from a rushed deployment of fully autonomous systems. In the next article, CAPT Andrew Stewart, U.S. Navy (Retired), discusses technologies required to build automated defenses against tomorrow’s cyber-attacks. Our final article by LTC Michael Love, USA, and Dr. Marwan Jamal, explores the implications of integrating fifth generation (5G) cellular technologies which have not yet been thoroughly scrutinized for vulnerabilities. As always, integrating advanced technologies requires a deliberate and carefully measured approach to maintain a secure posture.

As challenging as 2020 was for our nation’s security, 2021 is on track to surpass the previous year in terms of volume, scope, and sophistication of cyber-attacks. The Military Cyber Professional Association is proud to support our men and women in national defense positions and continues to bring together resources to support our shared cyber defense mission.

The Military Cyber Professional Association would like to thank both Mr. Wingfield and Dr. Roxanne Everetts of the "Cyber War College"—the National Defense University’s College of Information and Cyberspace (CIC)—for supporting this collaborative issue featuring CIC authors. Thanks also go to the University of South Florida for hosting the electronic version of this open access journal. We especially thank our sponsors, Nutanix, Wickr, and Capitol Technology University, for helping to make this issue possible.


Dr. Tomas Pena, Lt Col, USAF (Retired), is Editor-in-Chief of Military Cyber Affairs for the MCPA as well as the Chief Technologist of Cyber Operations for the Space and Airborne Systems Segment of L3Harris Technologies, and volunteers with the Marine Corps Cyber Auxiliary. Dr. Pena holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Systems, and a Doctorate of Science degree in Cybersecurity. He proudly served as a computer systems and cyberspace operations officer in the U.S. Air Force in multiple commands domestically and overseas.