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CYBERCOM

New Army Cyber Commander Confronts Personnel, Resource Issues

October 29, 2013
By Max Cacas

The new head of the U.S. Army Cyber Command cites the importance of looking carefully at what cyberwarriors do to determine how best to manage the men and women tasked with protecting the service’s information technology networks. This focus on personnel addresses challenges ranging from retaining talent to ensuring that cyber operations have the best resources—human and technological—for their mission.

Speaking in a media briefing in Washington, D.C., Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, USA, addressed the issue raised by Gen. Keith Alexander USA, head of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, that the disciplines of the signal community, signals intelligence and the cyber community be combined into a “cyberteam community.”

“When you hear this, it’s usually in the context of how you manage a cyberforce, that’s the construct,” Gen. Cardon began. “There are several different ways you can do this in the Army. You can use a skills identifier, you can create a functional area or you can create a separate branch. We have not resolved how we’re going to do this yet.”

With just six weeks on the job under his belt, Gen. Cardon decried “micro-management” efforts by the Army to manage cybersecurity personnel and resources. “I do know that we need to have a way to manage the talent, because it takes a long time to train them. We can’t take the time to train them and then have them for a year and then put them in a regular unit,” he declared. “That would be fiscally irresponsible.” The general went on to say that he is working with Army staff to determine how best to manage the staff under his command.

Cyber and Intelligence Need Each Other

October 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Intelligence needs cyber, and cyber needs intelligence. How they can function symbiotically is a less clear-cut issue, with challenges ranging from training to legal policy looming as government officials try to respond to a burgeoning cyber threat.

The cyber threat is growing, and the defense and homeland security communities must strive to keep up with new ways of inflicting damage to governments and businesses. Many experts believe the cyber threat has supplanted terrorism as the greatest national security issue, and new technologies are only one avenue for blunting the menace. Intelligence must expand its palette to identify and detect cyber threats before they realize their malicious goals.

Protecting the nation from cyber attacks entails deterring or preventing marauders from carrying out their malevolent plans. But, while government and the private sector endeavor to fight the menace jointly, evildoers constantly change their approaches and learn new ways of striking at vulnerable points. So many variables have entered the equation that even the likelihood of attacks—along with their effects—is uncertain.

These were among the many points discussed in the two-day AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum held July 30-31 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Nearly all participants agreed that inaction in addressing cyberthreats would be catastrophic for the nation as a whole.

Bringing Together Signal and Cyber

September 1, 2013
By Paul A. Strassmann

In his June interview with SIGNAL Magazine, Gen. Keith B. Alexander advocated bringing together the signal community, signals intelligence and the cyber community. In that interview, he said, “We need to think of ourselves not as signals, not as intelligence, not as cyber, but instead as a team that puts us all together.” Yet, that goal raises several questions. How can these concepts be achieved? How can a combination of more than 15,000 system enclaves from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force become interoperable? What technologies are needed in the next five years while insufficient budgets make consolidations difficult?

All Aboard for Joint Information Environment

August 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

 

Despite small pockets of resistance, officials across the U.S. Defense Department and military services support the convergence of multiple networks into one common, shared, global network. Lessons learned from the theater of operations indicate the need for the joint environment, which will provide enterprise services such as email, Internet access, common software applications and cloud computing.

That was the consensus from a wide range of speakers and panelists at the June 25-27 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore. The Joint Information Environment (JIE) was a major topic of discussion. Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, USA, director of command, control, communications and computers, J-6, the joint staff, indicated that the joint environment is his highest priority and described it as the way to the future. “We have no choice. We have to be interoperable day one, phase one, to plug into any operation anywhere in the world, whether it be for homeland defense, disaster relief here in the United States or some combat operation somewhere around the world with coalition partners,” Gen. Bowman declared.

Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA, Army chief information officer (G-6), called the JIE “absolutely essential,” and indicated that it will better allow warfighters to deploy “on little notice into any austere environment.”

Teresa Salazar, deputy chief, Office of Information Dominance, and deputy chief information officer, U.S. Air Force, said she saw the need for the JIE while in the desert, where every service and every “three-letter agency” came in with its own network, which led to vulnerabilities and a host of complications.

NSA Director Defends Intelligence Workforce

June 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 3

Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, who directs the National Security Agency (NSA) and commands U.S. Cyber Command, wrapped up the final day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium with a strongly-worded defense of the U.S. intelligence community, which is under fire following recently-leaked documents concerning the collection of data on the online activities of ordinary citizens in the United States and abroad. The general deviated from the topic of cyber long enough to address the controversy.

The NSA director said intelligence community employees protect the nation and civil liberties simultaneously. “These leaks have inflamed and sensationalized for ignoble purposes the work the intelligence community does lawfully under strict oversight and compliance. If you want to know who who’s acting nobly, look at the folks at NSA, FBI, CIA, and the Defense Department who defend our nation every day and do it legally and protect our civil liberties and privacy. They take an oath to our constitution—to uphold and defend that constitution,” he said. “They’re the heroes our nation should be looking at.”

During the question and answer session, Gen. Alexander also praised contractors who work for the intelligence community. “From my perspective, we couldn’t do our job without the contractors or the help we get from industry. That’s been absolutely superb. One individual has betrayed our trust and confidence, and that shouldn’t be a reflection on everybody else,” he stated.

In fact, he said, the United States government is one of the best in the world at protecting data on individuals. “Most nations around the world collect signals intelligence just like we do. And they’re governments use lawful intercept efforts that require and compel companies to provide the requested information. I think our nation is among the best at protecting our privacy and civil liberties,” he opined.

NSA Director Says U.S. Is Best at Protecting Civil Liberties

June 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The United States is one of the best in the world at protecting civil liberties, Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, director of National Security Agency (NSA) and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command said at the AFCEA Cyber Symposium in Baltimore.

Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked reams of data about NSA monitoring activities to the press, has been called a hero whistleblower by some, but Gen. Alexander contends that the employees at the NSA, FBI, CIA and Defense Department, who protect the nation while protecting civil liberties, are the real heroes.

As he has before, Gen. Alexander said the leaks have done irreparable harm to national security. “Public discussion of the NSA’s trade craft or the tools that support its operation provides insights that our adversaries—to include terrorists—can and do use to hide their activities. Those who wish us harm now know how we counter their actions. These leaks have caused significant and irreversible damage to our nation’s security. Historically, every time a capability is revealed, we lose our ability to track those targets,” he said. “What is going on with these leaks is unconscionable in my opinion.”

Gen. Alexander pointed out that approved processes exist for whistleblowers to express concern, and he pointed out that Snowden leaked information to the press rather than following those approved processes. “There are lawful and legitimate mechanisms to raise concerns about these programs. The NSA, the Defense Department and the director of national intelligence all have investigator generals who are in a position to do this. An individual acting nobly would have chosen one of those to voice his concerns,” he declared.

He also repeated claims that the monitoring programs have helped protect the United States and its allies on 54 occasions. He added that a recent oversight report found zero instances where the monitoring programs led to civil liberty violations.

Joint Information Environment Serves Five Eye Nations

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 2

The Joint Information Environment (JIE) took center stage during the second day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore. The conference devoted one full panel to the joint environment, but presenters throughout the day stressed the JIE’s importance to the future of the U.S. military and coalition partners, discussed some of the challenges to achieving the vision and vowed that the department will make it happen despite any remaining obstacles.

The JIE is not a program and does not have a budget, some presenters pointed out. It is, instead, a construct what will eventually consolidate all of the Defense Department’s networks into one single, global network, improving interoperability, increasing operational efficiency, enhancing situational awareness and ultimately saving costs.

The United States has been working with the so-called “five eye” nations—which also include Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom—to implement a Joint Information Environment capability, Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, U.S. Army director for command, control, communications and computers for the joint staff, told the audience. The five countries have agreed to share intelligence.

Gen. Bowman described the tactical end of JIE as the Mission Partner Environment. The Mission Partner Environment is essentially the same thing as the Afghan Future Network, which is the preferred terminology within NATO. “We’ve been working this hardest with the five eyes, and we have come up with a system that we’re using today so that we can exchange email and files from our national secret network to their national secret networks,” Gen. Bowman reported. “We just started that this past year. It’s a resounding success, it continues to grow, and we’re putting the rigor into it. That’s the way we need to run forward. We can’t be designing a new network.”

Cyber Commander Calls for Consolidated Activities

June 12, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

In the midst of a raging controversy over widespread National Security Agency (NSA) monitoring, the head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command defends cyber surveillance efforts and calls for greater consolidation of cyber activities among diverse organizations.

Cyber Command Redefines the Art

June 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Cyber Command is developing a strategy that acknowledges the convergence of network systems by empowering a similar convergence of military disciplines to help place U.S. cyberspace operators on a level field with their malevolent counterparts. This strategy acknowledges that the structure of the cyberforce has not kept pace with technology developments. As all types of information management—networking, communications and data storage—became digitized, previously disparate disciplines assumed greater commonality. With more common aspects, these disciplines share similar vulnerabilities as well as potential solutions.

The Best Laid Plans Fly Awry

June 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

The U.S. Air Force’s migration to a new enterprise network known as AFNET will be at least two years late in completion because the project turned out to be more complicated than planners anticipated.

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