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SIGNAL Connections

Security Assurance Sometimes Starts From the Outside In

October 15, 2008

The explosion of new Web tools increases the usefulness of everyone’s computers but also amplifies the threats to organizations’ network systems. Life behind the corporate firewall may be relatively safe, but once the windows are open to let exciting capabilities in, systems administrators must take extra precautions to ensure that information isn’t leaking out.

Blake Frantz, chief technology officer for the Center for Internet Security, says risks to organizations’ systems today generally fall into three categories. The first is at the desktop itself. Information security officers need to evaluate the information that traverses between their computer users and the outside world. Security officers also must take an inventory of the tools their users have on their desktops. “Enough attention isn’t being paid to the inventory on desktops,” Frantz states.

While software creators develop patches for their products when vulnerabilities are discovered, users may be employing a plethora of different plug-ins and widgets that include vulnerabilities that are not being patched. “Overall, the popularity of Internet tools means that you have more computers on your local area network that have them. The sheer number causes this to be an increasing threat,” he explains.

Tactical Communications Empower Force Doctrine

October 15, 2008

The past few years have seen military communications and information systems described in terms ranging from force multiplier to battlespace domain. No one doubts that command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) systems have revolutionized warfare. What many people do not realize is just how broad-reaching the changes have been across the spectrum of warfighting.

One need look no further than the Iraq War for a singular example. When Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA, initiated the troop surge to seize the upper hand in Iraq, he also instituted major changes in operational doctrine. One of these was to move U.S. forces out of centralized locations and into the general populace. New tactical C4I systems that were being deployed with the force enabled the general to commit to that undertaking. Absent those new technologies, the force would not have been able to maintain connectivity while dispersed. This was a case in which the C4I systems enabled the change in doctrine that helped shift the outlook for the war in Iraq.

Microwave Communication Technologies Evolve to Support Global Information Grid Demands

October 15, 2008

While the recent focus of military communicators has been on building the Global Information Grid's (GIG’s) fiber optic transport backbone and Internet protocol architecture, the community is only now addressing the highly variable and situationally dependent problem of access. Many different access technologies are already being used at the base level, at forward-deployed fixed bases and at tactical locations. However, variations in mission, bandwidth needs and geography complicate the network access problem.

In response to this challenge, wireless communications, especially microwave radio systems, are taking on an increasingly important role by providing high-bandwidth access to the GIG. Tried-and-true microwave systems are evolving to meet requirements for packet-based, real-time communications that address the need for high-bandwidth connections to remote locations; reliable, secure last-mile connections; rapid deployment capability; and crowded spectrum management, especially in international, urban locations.

Microwave network architectures are transforming from a traditional point-to-point model to a network-centric model with a trunk radio core element, which aggregates and transports voice, video and data much like fiber in the air, and a hub-and-spoke access element that enables access to the core via a range of interfaces including Ethernet, TDM and OC-3/12.

Radios have evolved from monolithic to split-mount designs that separate the commoditized elements of a radio system from the switching and routing elements. And with available spectrum a finite resource, vendors are designing radios that support multiple modulation schemes like QPSK, QAM and SONET/SDH on the same radio for flexibility and scale.

TACOM Seeks to Expose Shelters

October 15, 2008
by B.R. Melton

The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command Integrated Logistics Support Center is soliciting feedback from the U.S. armed services concerning the purchase of the S-280 C/G electrical equipment shelter. The center is conducting a data call to determine requirements for empty shelters and to determine the number of shelters programs plan to purchase through fiscal year 2015.

The Army has not procured the S-280 since 1996, but due to program needs, a solicitation for the shelter is being released. “[The IntegratedLogisticsSupportCenter] currently has one customer purchasing approximately 940 shelters over a five-year period, and this quantity will come close to maximum vendor capacity for that time period,” says Joseph Kleinfeldt, logistics management specialist with Tank-Automotive and ArmamentsCommandIntegratedLogisticsSupportCenter (TACOM-ILSC). If this capacity is reached, a second vendor will be needed, he states, which makes this solicitation important. Knowing the possible demand will help prevent the Army from over- or under-purchasing the shelters.

Secure Chip Drives Modern Cryptographic Systems

October 15, 2008
by Henry S. Kenyon

The newest version of a proven cryptographic system is being embedded in many of the most advanced platforms entering service in the U.S. military. The Advanced Infosec Machine (AIM) microchip is a programmable, embeddable security engine for cryptography processing. AIM is a key part of several major defense programs such as the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) and the F-22 raptor.

AIM is the cryptographic engine in the JTRS Enhanced Multiband Inter/Intra Team Radio (MBITR) (JEM) radio and the JTRS Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit radio. It also is the cryptographic engine for the radios in the JTRS airborne, maritime and fixed programs, explains Bill Ross, director of the information assurance systems and programs business unit at General Dynamics C4 Systems. The chip is embedded in the General Dynamics-manufactured Digital Modular Radio used by the U.S. Navy. 

Troops in Afghanistan Bridge Communications Gap

October 15, 2008
by Maryann Lawlor

Steady progress in communications in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has dramatically sped up the pace of coalition combat, security, governance and development operations throughout the country. From the tactical perspective, this progress is increasing shared situational awareness and boosting collaboration among nations.

Lt. Col. John Burger, USA, chief, Strategic Programs Branch, J-6, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, explains that at the opening of operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. services used the available radios and networks to create the main hub areas in the tactical signal units. Staying in touch primarily meant using mobile subscriber equipment and other devices that rely on line of sight for communicating.

The terrain fundamentally distinguishes communications in operation Enduring Freedom from communications in operation Iraqi Freedom, Col. Burger points out. While line-of-sight communications capabilities can be used to share information for miles in the desert or over other relatively flat terrain, in Afghanistan, “they’re just not going to work,” he says.

Copier User, Please Identify Yourself

October 15, 2008
by Denine Phillips

A staggering amount of sensitive information, from personnel reviews to contracts and medical records, traverses the federal government’s computer network. Integral to this information-sharing process is a common network on-ramp, the connected digital copier. No longer the slow analog machine of yesteryear, digital copiers are versatile imaging systems that support stand-alone copying and network-based scanning, faxing and printing. Also referred to as a multifunctional product (MFP), digital copiers utilize network resources to enhance workflow and productivity. At the same time, an MFP poses a unique security challenge.

One solution is the Common Access Card (CAC). Developed as an insider threat prevention tool, CAC authentication solutions are marketed by major office equipment manufacturers, including Canon, eCopy, Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark, Ricoh and Xerox. Starting in 2001, the U.S. Defense Department began issuing CACs to all active-duty personnel, civilian employees and eligible contractors. With 3.5 million in circulation today, the credit-card-size CAC is a primary form of identification, allowing physical access to Defense Department buildings as well as logical access to the department’s desktop and laptop computers.

Opportunities Abound for Small Company Owners

October 15, 2008

The AFCEA International Small Business Committee’s programs are developed with two small business needs in mind: access and education. The committee provides opportunities to interact with key individuals in government and industry for networking and relationship building. Educational offerings address the skills necessary for small businesses to work more efficiently and grow their organizations.

AFCEA’s Doing Business with the Federal Government Small Business Conference in Philadelphia, taking place this week, is an offering that combines the two goals. This conference is structured to assist small businesses in cultivating the federal government customer. Content focuses on the stages in the business development cycle, including identification of the best-fit opportunities for a business’s core competencies, management of the capture process and continued growth of the business.

The conference consists of four separate educational sessions that illuminate key elements in the business development cycle. This is followed by a government panel to offer attendees insights to improve their chances of success by knowing how to approach agencies in the most efficient and effective way.

Hampton Roads Chapter Expands Outreach with “Lunch and Learn”

October 15, 2008
by Katie Packard

The Hampton Roads Chapter hosted “Lunch and Learn,” a new outreach event, in August for the staff of the information

division of the
Joint Forces Staff College, a component of the NationalDefense University. The chapter held the event to introduce information technology professionals to the benefits of AFCEA membership. The agenda included upcoming courses offered through the Professional Development Center to demonstrate the wide ariety of course offerings.


Col. Joseph J. Frazier, USA, former acting commandant of the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC), discusses his experience as an AFCEA member with the audience during the Hampton Roads Chapter’s Lunch and Learn in August.

Young AFCEANs Raise Funds for Wounded Warrior Project

October 15, 2008
by Katie Packard

The Northern Virginia Chapter's Young AFCEAN committee raised $22,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project during the chapter-sponsored Army Information Technology Day in July. The committee allocated the funds to military patients at WalterReedArmyMedicalCenter in Washington, D.C. Donations included gift cards to restaurants and mass retailers such as Target in addition to monetary contributions.

Katie Gladhill, Young AFCEAN committee (YAC) chair, and the YAC members contacted Chuck Giasson, Northern Virginia Chapter member and a Wounded Warrior Project representative through the Northern Virginia Roundtable, for help in locating a program that supports returning warfighters. “The Wounded Warrior Project allowed [the YAC] to provide funding…in an extremely fast fashion. This just happened to be an excellent partnership opportunity at the time in our fundraising event schedule,” shares Jeff Li, Northern Virginia YAC member.


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