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Information Warfare - Staying Protected at the Edge

  • Magazine Article
  • 20AERP10_02
Published October 01, 2020 by SAE International in United States
  • English

On April 1, 2001, a United States Navy EP-3E ARIES II signals intelligence aircraft and a Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy J-8II interceptor fighter jet collided above Hainan Island, China. Per protocol, the EP crew scrambled to destroy sensitive key-management data onboard the aircraft. However, the team was interrupted by opposing soldiers, and as a result failed to destroy cryptographic keys and other highly sensitive information on the plane. In a matter of seconds, U.S. secrets were in the hands of another nation, including intelligence documents, NSA employee names, defense plans, and other confidential documents.

This exposure of information set back U.S. intelligence enough to impact the nation's defense strategy for years. Had this aircraft been equipped with hardware-embedded cyber defense capabilities such as instant secure erase (ISE), the complete compromise of sensitive data could have been prevented - U.S. troops would have been able to destroy the data with the press of a button. Solutions that integrate with ISE capabilities built into modern hard drives would have protected this sensitive data.