US Cyber Command Gets New Operational Tools

A new set of cyber-operational tools has been successfully integrated into US Cyber Command's virtual cyber-training platform, the Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE).

Col. Tanya Trout, outgoing director of the Joint Cyber Training Enterprise, said that newly integrated operational tools will be used during missions.

Cyber Command’s warriors can log in to the PCTE from anywhere in the world to conduct individual or collective cyber-training and rehearse missions. The platform was launched in February, and the environment was used for the first time in June for Cyber Flag, Cyber Command’s premier annual tier 1 exercise.

In July, the platform joined an integration pilot program with the program offices of the Unified Platform system and the Joint Cyber Command and Control system.  

Speaking during a virtual industry day for PCTE on August 19, Trout said: “This integration allowed for execution of small team tactics while performing active hunt of advanced persistent threat within a post-compromised range environment."

She added that the integrated PCTE enabled teams "to train and rehearse using available Joint Cyber War-fighting Architecture (JCWA) that gives us really the ability to train as we fight."

Demand for the PCTE has increased significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19 made social distancing part of daily life. Trout said that from March to May 2020, the number of new PCTE accounts had doubled. 

Since its delivery to Cyber Command, the PCTE has participated in another pilot geared toward mission rehearsal. Trout told the virtual industry day audience that members of the Cyber National Mission Force had used the PCTE to expand their mission rehearsal scope, scale, and fidelity in a virtualized adversarial network, helping them to calculate future requirements.

The Cyber National Mission Force is one of Cyber Command’s elite units aligned against specific threat actors and charged with protecting the United States in cyberspace.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, commander of Army Cyber Command, told the industry day audience that the PCTE offers several advantages over the National Training Center. These advantages are that the virtual cyber-training environment has the ability to replicate an actual opponent and that its mission rehearsal capability allows users to input details of real prior operations and train against or upload malware discovered during operations.

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