CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? THE VULNERABILITY OF CELLULAR AND SMARTPHONE USE ON THE BATTLEFIELD
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Enemies of the United States of America seek new asymmetric means to counter the strength of the American military. The rise in the use of cellular and smartphones around the globe has created new threats for military forces. This thesis shows cellular and smartphones are a medium for dissemination of propaganda and cyberspace exploitation, and thus are a focus for operational security concerns. The 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea and the subsequent occupation of Eastern Ukraine presents an excellent case study to examine the vulnerabilities of these devices. The war in Ukraine shows the use of text messages to spread propaganda, the manipulation of a Ukrainian fire support Android Application to give away the location of its user to the enemy, and the dangers of OPSEC violations through social media posts to give away important military information. This thesis also examined the future threats to these vulnerable devices and their possible effects on the United States. The rise of 5G technology, deepfake videos, and vulnerabilities in the IoT all offer new vectors to attack and exploit American service members. Prescriptive measures the United States can employ through effective training and education are presented to ensure service members know the reason why their phones cannot be used. The thesis suggests this training needs to be applied to the allies and partner forces of the United States as well, to ensure their survival on the modern battlefield.
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