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Security

Korean Cybersecurity Becomes a Joint Endeavor

June 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

A new facility for cybersecurity is allowing U.S. Forces Korea to coordinate efforts with other U.S. commands as well as Republic of Korea civilian government and military forces. The Joint Cyber Center serves as the focal point for increasing international cooperation between U.S. and Korean forces in their defensive measures against increasing cyber aggression from North Korea. It blends activities from the local J-2, J-3 and J-6 along with input from other forces worldwide.

The cyber center coordinates through its headquarters and partners with its counterparts at the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). Through PACOM, the center works with the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). Any direction the center receives from CYBERCOM would come through PACOM.

Col. Karlton D. Johnson, USAF, is the U.S. Forces Korea J-6 and senior communicator for U.S. forces in Korea. He says what is unique about this cyber center is its partnership with the Republic of Korea. Col. Johnson notes that, in March and June of 2012, cyber attacks hit the Korean national infrastructure and its banking sector. U.S. forces viewed the threat across the board to ensure they were defended, and it coordinated with Korean partners through the Joint Cyber Center (JCC).

The colonel emphasizes that the two countries do not share locations at the cyber center. They “share what is shareable” through their bilateral cooperation protocols. Earlier this year, Korean and U.S. forces held the first bilateral cyber tabletop exercise, in which the U.S. Forces Korea J-6 served as the synchronizing agent with Korean government and military agencies.

Col. Johnson continues that he has “an outstanding working relationship” with the commander of the Korean cyber command as well as with the Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff J-6 and the Korean Ministry of National Defense. All are focused on broad cyberdefense because Korea has been on the front lines of cyber, he notes.

National Security Agency Program Fills Critical Cyber Skills Gaps

June 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The first graduates are emerging from centers of excellence for cyber operations that teach the in-depth computer science and engineering skills necessary to conduct network operations. The program better prepares graduates to defend networks and should reduce the on-the-job training needed for new hires, saving both time and money.

The National Security Agency (NSA) initiated the Centers of Academic Excellence-Cyber Operations (CAE-CO) program in 2012. Eight schools were designated centers of excellence in the first two years with another round of announcements expected in mid-June. Agency officials say they hope eventually to have a total of 20 to 25 schools on the list.

The effort is a deeply technical, interdisciplinary, higher education program firmly grounded in the computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering disciplines. “We had noticed that a lot of graduates coming out of universities didn’t have quite the same skills that they’ve had in the past,” recalls Steve LaFountain, dean of the College of Cyber, National Cryptologic School, and the distinguished academic chair for information assurance and cyber, NSA. “Some of the skills needed in the cyber operations field, such as low-level programming, deep knowledge of networks and network protocols and understanding of operating systems internals, were starting to become less emphasized by academic programs.”

The change in school curricula is understandable because a lot of jobs today are focused on Web applications and mobile applications and require a different skill set than today’s cyber operations, he adds. “Instead of doing C programming, they’re now doing Java, Perl and Python programming. We decided to create this program and focus the requirements on the skills necessary for cyber operations,” LaFountain explains.

Sandia Cyber Technologies Academy Offers Free Courses

May 2, 2014
By George I. Seffers

High school students and teachers get to learn about the world of cybersecurity through Sandia National Laboratories' Cyber Technologies Academy (CTA), which offers free classes for those interested in computer science and cybersecurity.

Boston Marathon Bombing Lessons Learned

April 30, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Intelligence agencies could have investigated more thoroughly and shared information more effectively, but even if they had performed perfectly, they may not have been able to prevent last year's Boston Marathon bombing, according to a report delivered before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Joint 
Information Environment 
Logs Successes, 
Faces Snags

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The Defense Department drive toward its Joint Information Environment is picking up speed as it progresses toward its goal of assimilating military networks across the warfighting realm. Individual services are developing solutions, some of which are targeted for their own requirements, that are being applied to the overarching goal of linking the entire defense environment.

Early successes in Europe have advanced Joint Information Environment (JIE) efforts elsewhere, including the continental United States. Some activities have been accelerated as a result of lessons learned, and they have been implemented ahead of schedule in regions not slated to receive them for months or even years.

However, significant hurdles remain, and not all participants are equally supportive of the effort. Overcoming major cultural challenges may be the most difficult task facing JIE implementation. And, the omnipresent budget constraints facing the entire Defense Department may extend into the JIE, even though it is not officially a program of record.

Senior Defense Department leaders do not hesitate to emphasize the importance of the JIE to future military operations. David DeVries, deputy Defense Department chief information officer (CIO) for information enterprise, describes the JIE as a unifying effort to do “the largest wholesale information technology modernization in the history of the department.”

Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., USAF, director, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), avows, “The next type of enterprise that our Defense Department will be postured to utilize in the next conflict—be it kinetic or nonkinetic—the JIE will be an integral part of that environment.”

Computer Security Problems at VA Doubled in Six Years

April 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) remains plagued by decades-old problems of unreliable and vulnerable networks and computer systems, putting the veterans they serve at risk, according to a recent government report. Despite years of documented weaknesses, the VA still has failed to shore up vulnerabilities, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

Cyber Warrior Teams Vie for Big Win in CyberPatriot Bout

March 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Middle and high school student teams from 14 states will gather next week for CyberPatriot, a culminating competition in which they will be tested defend computers against cyberattacks.

Open Source Intelligence Offers Crystal Ball Capability

April 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Researchers working on behalf of the U.S. intelligence agencies can use reams of open source, anonymous data to foretell social turmoil such as disease outbreaks or international political unrest. Once fully developed, the capability to predict coming events may allow U.S. officials to more effectively respond to public health threats; to improve embassy security before an imminent attack; or to more quickly and effectively respond to humanitarian crises.

Cybersecurity Tentacles Entwine Government

March 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

It is not surprising that cybersecurity would dominate the discussion on the second day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. But the depth and breadth and variety of topics surrounding cybersecurity and information protection in all its forms indicates the degree to which the information security mission has engulfed every department and agency at all levels of government.

World Complexity Creates Greatest Challenge

March 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The real challenge to keeping the homeland secure is dealing with the world's increasing complexity, Adm. Thad Allen, USCG, (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday during his luncheon keynote address.

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