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30th January 2020 21:52:53 Hours

“As Space is Becoming a Weapon Launching Pad, We Need to Rely on Our Own Cyber Security Readiness” Acting CDS & Army Chief Tells Ex-'Zero Day of Virtual Battle'

“We must not rely on the likelihood of the enemy not coming, but on our own readiness to meet him. Thus, it is a timely requirement to identify emerging challenges and be equipped with essential capabilities to address those effectively and efficiently. In this context, Exercises of this nature would be immensely beneficial to enhance the awareness on cyber space and its security among the Army personnel,” so remarked the Chief Guest, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Acting Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Commander of the Army during his address to the Exercise - ‘Zero Day of Virtual Battle’, staged at the Army HQ this morning (30) which assessed the threat and vulnerability emerging through the application of computers and computer networks and the possible official solution to solve the issue or fix the issue.

The Exercise, an initiative taken by Major General Nilantha Hettiarachchi, Chief Signal Officer (CSO) and Colonel Commandant of the Sri Lanka Signal Corps (SLSC) of the Army, supported by Directorate of Information Technology (DIT) and its Officers and Other Ranks focused on resistant techniques, cyber security objectives, cyber policies and procedures and application of techniques to either diminish or prevent any threats from the newly-discovered ‘Zero Day’ software vulnerability. The day’s Exercise logo was launched by the Acting CDS and Commander of the Army by switching on a button and the Exercise was rehearsed between mock 'Red Land Force' and 'Blue Land Force' teams, comprised of Army IT experts.

Continuing his speech, the Acting CDS and Commander of the Army went on to say that the Exercise amply displayed the increased capabilities of the Sri Lanka Signal Corps (SLSC) to stand against the possible cyber security threats in the future. The professionalism maintained throughout is also commended and I extend my sincere appreciation to the Chief Signal Officer and his team for their untiring efforts to conduct this event with precision.

"It is a well-known fact that, warfare has evolved from generation to generation, and today the Network Centrist Warfare and Cyber Warfare have gained concentration as the space is becoming a weapon launching pad. In this information age, the technological advancements of the internet have enabled information to be more accessible to much of the world population, and also at an increasing speed. Cyberspace is a defining feature of modern life. Individuals and communities worldwide connect, socialize, and organize themselves in and through cyberspace. The existence of numerous cyber threats on various domains naturally increase concerns over countering these issues," he elaborated.

"The increasing volume and sophistication of cyber security threats, including data and other online vulnerabilities, demand that we remain vigilant about securing our systems and information. The average unprotected computer, connected to the Internet can be compromised in moments. Thousands of infected web pages are being discovered every day. Hundreds of millions of records have been involved in data breaches. New attack methods are launched continuously. As per the records in exabeam.com, one of the major cyber-crimes occurred in 2013, is a data breach in Yahoo. This cyber-attack resulted in the theft of billions of user accounts. These examples highlight the importance of information security as a necessary approach to protecting data and systems," Lieutenant General Silva explained to the audience.

"Though this global advancement of military science and warfare is not equally applicable to Sri Lanka, as it is, fall-outs of such technological advancements and technologies would make a considerable impact on developing countries. Hence, our Army of today and the future, needs adaption and change to stay in line with a rapidly growing information and technological age and advanced civilian education. In materializing cyber security objectives, cyber policies and procedures should be clearly defined with responsibility and accountability. I would like to mention that Sri Lanka Army has already published cyber policies and procedures to be followed by subordinates at all levels," the day's Chief Guest observed.

"As I observed, today’s Exercise was mainly focused to impart the knowledge among the Principal Staff Officers and Directors of the Sri Lanka Army on cyber space facilities in order to exchange operational and administrative sensitive information with confidence. Thus, the Army should be vigilant in safeguarding the digital information to ensure the availability, integrity and confidentiality of data during storage, processing, transit and handling within Sri Lanka Army," the acting CDS and Commander of the Army concluded. A few group photographs with the day's Chief Guest and distribution of certificates of participation to the attendees in the Exercise by the day's Chief Guest brought the event to an end.

Cyber Security, now emerged as the 5th domain of warfare has opened up a whole new arena of Cyber risks and the race to the digital world and the inherent connectivity of people, devices and organizations has an unrepeatable reliance on technology in all aspects of human lives, whether it is business, health, governance or defence, the gathering was told by Lieutenant Colonel Anuradha Mendis, Commanding Officer, 3 Sri Lanka Signal Corps presenting an introduction to the Exercise setting. The vote of thanks was delivered by Colonel Chanaka Prathapasingha, Exercise Director and Commanding Officer, 12 SLSC.

Chief of Staff, Principal Staff Officers, Senior Officers and a representative gathering of Army IT experts graced the arrangement.

Here follows the full text of Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva's Speech to the occasion:

"I am deeply delighted to witness the ‘ZERO DAY OF VIRTUAL BATTLE 2020’ which was organized by the Chief Signal Officer and his team together with Sri Lanka Signal Corps for the very first time in the Army’s history.

As I believe, “We must not rely on the likelihood of the enemy not coming, but on our own readiness to meet him”. Thus, it is a timely requirement to identify emerging challenges and be equipped with essential capabilities to address those effectively and efficiently. In this context, Exercises of this nature would immensely beneficial to enhance the awareness on cyber space and its security among the Army personnel. As the Commander of the Army, I am pleased to state that the Exercise amply displayed the increased capabilities of the Signal Corps to stand against the possible cyber security threats in the future. The professionalism maintained throughout is also commended and I extend my sincere appreciations to the Chief Signal Officer and his team for their untiring efforts to conduct this event with precision. Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a well-known fact that, warfare has evolved from generation to generation, and today the Network Centric Warfare and Cyber Warfare have gained concentration as the space is becoming a weapon launching pad.In this information age, the technological advancements of the internet have enabled information to be more accessible to much of the world population, and at an increasing speed. Cyberspace is a defining feature of modern life. Individuals and communities worldwide connect, socialize, and organize themselves in and through cyberspace. The existence of numerous cyber threats on various domains naturally increase concerns over countering these issues.

The increasing volume and sophistication of cyber security threats, including data theft and other online vulnerabilities, demand that we remain vigilant about securing our systems and information. The average unprotected computer connected to the internet can be compromised in moments. Thousands of infected web pages are being discovered every day. Hundreds of millions of records have been involved in data breaches. New attack methods are launched continuously. As per the records on exabeam.com, one of the major cybercrimes occurred in 2013 is a data breach in yahoo. This cyber-attack resulted in the theft of billions of user accounts. These examples highlight the importance of information security as a necessary approach to protecting data and systems.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Though this global advancement of military science and warfare is not equally applicable to Sri Lanka as it is, fallouts of such technological advancements and technologies would make a considerable impact on developing countries. Hence, our Army of today and the future, needs adaption and change to stay in line with a rapidly growing information and technological age and advanced civilian education.

In materializing cyber security objectives, cyber policies and procedures should be clearly defined with responsibility and accountability. I would like to mention that Sri Lanka Army has already published cyber policies and procedures to be followed by subordinates at all levels.

As I observed, today’s exercise was mainly focused to impart the knowledge among the Principal Staff Officers and Directors of the Sri Lanka Army on cyber space facilities in order to exchange operational and administrative sensitive information with confidence. Thus, the Army should be vigilant in safeguarding the digital information to ensure the availability, integrity and confidentiality of data during storage, processing, transit and handling within Sri Lanka Army.

Finally I would like to thank Chief Signal Officer and his team for conducting this awareness programme including a demonstration in order to practice correct cyber security guidelines whilst identifying the system vulnerabilities. I also hereby recommend Chief Signal Officer to conduct this same exercise at Defence Services Command and Staff College, OCDC Buttala, SLMA and Security Forces Headquarters to educate all ranks on good practices and user behaviors over computer networks."