Cyber Defenses for Stryker Dragoon after Hacking

The US Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) has awarded an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) contract worth $2.6 million to develop a cybersecurity suite for the M1296 Infantry Carrier Vehicle Dragoon (ICVD) following reported hacking attempts.

The winning firm is Washington DC-based Shift5 who specialise in developing cybersecurity measures to “defend operational technology platforms such as planes, trains, and tanks from cyberattacks.” Josh Lospinoso, Shift5 CEO noted:

“Shift5 is answering the call to arms about military weapon system cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Our products are currently deployed protecting commercial rail and aircraft, and this newest engagement will integrate our products onto military ground vehicle platforms.”

Under the OTA, Shift5 “will provide unified cybersecurity prototype kits designed to help protect the operational technology” of the Stryker Dragoon. Last year the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation for the Defense Department reported that both the Dragoon and the CROWS-J (Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station- Javelin) weapons platform used on the standard Stryker M1126 ICV had “cybersecurity vulnerabilities that can be exploited.”

A new 30mm Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle – Dragoon from the 4th Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment loads on to a raft from the 130th Deutsch Engineer Battalion to move across the Neman River near Kaunus, Lithuania, June 13, 2018. (US Army)

The report further noted that “Adversaries demonstrated the ability to degrade select capabilities of the (Stryker-Dragoon) when operating in a contested cyber environment.” Although the ‘adversary’ is not named in the report, as the Dragoon is principally deployed to Europe, Russia is the obvious suspect. The nature or effect of the hacking was also not released for obvious operational security reasons.

CROWS-J (Courtesy US Army)

The company spelled out their objective in a press release announcing the contract:

“Over the course of a year, Shift5 will develop, test, and refine an enhanced vehicle security system prototype and deliver a transition-ready product. The Shift5 solution will increase the cyber survivability of the vehicle across the full lifecycle.”

81 ICVDs are currently operational with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Poland as part of the Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Poland’s Task Force Cougar. In related news, crews from the unit’s Fox and Eagle Troops were supplied with the new ATK MK310 Mod 0 Programmable Air Bursting Munition (PABM) and test-fired it last week in Poland.

“This is it. We have this round in our go-to-war stock here right now. If the enemy horde was to come over that hill we could get that ammunition up and running and ready to go. And now our soldiers have the confidence in actually shooting, not a training round, but the full service ammo,” Noted Squadron Master Gunner Staff Sergeant Bryan Miller.