SIGNALScape

Cyber Measures Could Ensure Security but Compromise Freedom

November 3, 2010
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The key to providing greatly enhanced cyber security may be at hand, but it may also eliminate one of the Internet's greatest characteristics, and a middle ground may be hard to achieve. Carter Bullard, president and chief executive officer, QoSient, told the audience at a MILCOM 2010 Wednesday afternoon panel on cyber security that technologies are needed for three elements-attribution, mitigation and deterrence. Attaining attribution and mitigation will lead to deterrence, he maintained. A key means of attribution is non-repudiation, which he described as having the potential to go after the entire threat matrix. This discipline would provide comprehensive accountability that prevents any interloper from concealing that they attacked, thus creating the concept that a hacker can get caught. Bullard bemoaned the fact that no one is building technology for non-repudiation, calling it "the most misunderstood countermeasure." However, one of his fellow panelists raised an alarm about its incorporation. Elliot Proebstel, on the technical staff of Sandia National Laboratories, warned that building in non-repudiation might threaten valued Internet freedoms. The existing anonymity that every Internet user takes for granted might disappear as every user could be identified. This would be a boon to dictatorships that seek to identify and stifle Internet users opposed to their regimes, he offered.

Army Streamlining Information Facilities

November 3, 2010
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The U.S. Army is freezing some information technology acquisitions and cutting back on existing facilities for more efficient data flow. These efforts are coupled with a data center inventory designed to allow the service greater flexibility in networking. Maj. Gen. Mark Bowman, USA, director of architecture, operations, networks, and space, Army CIO/G-6, explained to the MILCOM 2010 luncheon audience that the Army has placed a moratorium on the acquisition of servers. Too many servers were being purchased without regard to need, and the existing servers were being used at only about 33 percent capacity. While servers are frozen, Army data centers are melting away. First, the Army began to inventory just how many data centers it had, Gen. Bowman related. The count began at about 160, and it now is up to 279 and still counting. Once the Army has its arms around its data center infrastructure, it will begin reducing their number. The goal is to reduce that number by 75 percent by 2015 on the way to a final tally of less than 10 data centers. Gen. Bowman explained that this reduction will be conducted methodically rather than dramatically. This will prevent some data center adherents from offering legitimate arguments against the reductions. The Defense Information Systems Agency, which is advising the Army on this effort, will pick up some of the data center functions.

Big Changes in Store for Signal Corps

November 3, 2010
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The concept of training U.S. Army soldiers in the art of communications is about to undergo a change as substantial as those wrought by new media capabilities. And, these capabilities are among the very drivers of that change. Maj. Gen. Mark Bowman, USA, director of architecture, operations, networks, and space, Army CIO/G-6, told the MILCOM 2010 luncheon audience that the traditional way of teaching signal soldiers how to operate boxes will change to accommodate the inherent knowledge that they bring to the force. This knowledge includes social media and other capabilities. Another driver for this change is the Army's adoption of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). The Army will have fewer specialized technologies and systems as it adopts VoIP for its voice traffic. Overall, the Army will have less military occupational specialties. The general offered that the Army does not need as many as it has today. "Everyone needs to be cross-trained," he said. Ultimately, all soldiers will receive some degree of communications training. "It would be irresponsible not to teach basic communications skills to everyone in the army," Gen. Bowman declared, noting that any soldier may have to step in to operate a basic communications system in an emergency.

Personal Technologies Are Game Changers for Consumers

November 3, 2010
By Robert K. Ackerman
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People are changing their Web habits as they become more comfortable with personal handheld media devices. Systems such as iPhones, iPads and Blackberry and Android phones are becoming the preferred interfaces with the Web instead of desktop or laptop computers. This trend is changing the way that people manage their lives, and marketers are moving to take advantage of it. In the MILCOM 2010 Wednesday keynote panel, Steve Yankovich, vice president, Mobile & PBS Group, eBay, related that his company is seeing rapid growth in its mobile business and is bridging the gap between online and mobile shopping. The company does not offer its entire menu in the mobile realm, but instead it tailors services to the mobile user who is away from his or her computer. "A huge paradigm shift is happening as people engage the small screen more than they do their computer," Yankovich declared. "It has transformed eBay." A key to exploiting this trend is to determine who and where the user is and to ascertain what that person is going to do. Determining intention is a valuable step in marketing to mobile devices, he noted. Yankovich offered that cameras on mobile devices are changing the way we live, and marketers are noticing that. Some day, a person will see a consumer item that they want worn or carried by another person on the street-a watch, some clothing or an accessory, for example. The first person will take a picture of the item with their mobile device; software will analyze the pixels and identify the item; and the handheld then will tell its user where it can purchase the item, either at the best price or at the nearest location.

Social Media Are Providing Clues for Predictive Behavior

November 3, 2010
By Robert K. Ackerman
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In addition to generating huge amounts of information for the infosphere, social media are providing clues to behavior that analysts are tapping for marketing predictions. Seemingly innocuous behavior is revealing valuable information about group and individual behavior. Bernardo Huberman, senior fellow and director, Social Computing Lab, HP Labs, told the MILCOM 2010 Wednesday keynote panel that experiments have shown how this data can predict marketing success. One test allowed experts to predict the box office revenues of movies before they opened, based on tweets about the movies. Ed Leonard, chief technology officer, DreamWorks Animation, added that he and his colleagues are able to predict precisely how a movie will fare over the next 10 years based on just a few hours of box office reports. Huberman described a concept known as sentiment analysis, in which looking at a piece of text can illuminate the opinion and positive or negative feeling of the writer. This exercise cost only a few dollars, he added. His company also developed a technology that allows a small group of 20 people to predict future events. This effort measure their risk attitudes, which has broad applications. In the retail market, their attitude may determine whether people are likely to buy a laptop or not. Russ Daniels, vice president and chief technology officer, cloud services strategy, Hewlett-Packard Company, described how just knowing locations-geolocation data is being revealed by more devices and applications-can reveal patterns of behavior. Knowing the location of actions over time allows a user to understand intent. By capturing data such as where people are hailing taxis in a city in a given time frame, marketers can offer services tailored to that activity.

Allen Joins VT Group U.S.

November 3, 2010
By Henry Kenyon

George Allen has joined the Technical Services business unit of  VT Group U.S., Washington, D.C., as vice president of strategic development.

Joint Venture Captures $37 Million Radio Terminals Contract

November 3, 2010
By George Seffers

Data Link Solutions (DLS), a joint venture between Rockwell Collins and BAE Systems, has been awarded a $37 million contract from the U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to upgrade its Joint Tactical Information Distribution Systems (JTIDS) radio terminals. JTIDS terminals provide jam-resistant digital communication of data and voice for command and control, navigation, relative positioning and identification. DLS will incorporate cryptographic modernization and frequency remapping upgrades into fielded JTIDS Class 2 terminals. The four-year program will provide operation, maintenance and sustainment for the projected service life of the JTIDS terminals through the year 2035 by adding product improvements that will allow JTIDS platforms to continue to participate in the Link 16 network, the tactical data link network used by NATO and coalition forces that allows aircraft, ships and ground forces to share a tactical picture in near-real time.

Integral Systems Snags U.S. Cyber Command Contract

November 3, 2010
By George Seffers

Integral Systems Incorporated recently announced that it has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Strategic Command to provide worldwide interference geolocation services. Under the terms of the contract, the company will provide U.S. Cyber Command, a sub-unified command, with commercial satellite geolocation services. The geolocation services contract provides Cyber Command's Global Satellite Communications Support Center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, access to actionable information via Integral's global network of advanced digital signal processing monitoring sensors, geolocation systems and tri-band (C-, X- and Ku-band) antennas.

Autonomic Resources Receives Government-wide Cloud Computing Award

November 3, 2010
By George Seffers

Autonomic Resources recently announced that it has been awarded one of the General Services Administration's first blanket purchase agreements for the first government-wide contract for cloud computing. Under this agreement, Autonomic Resources will offer public cloud services to provide U.S. government customers with simplified computing power, storage, and networking infrastructure that can be acquired and utilized on-demand, all from certified data centers with enhanced multi-factor authentication access. Autonomic Resources is one of only a few vendors to have met the technical requirements necessary to be awarded a GSA contract for cloud computing.

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