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Security

Cyber Operations Centers of Academic Excellence List Expands

July 14, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The National Security Agency has added five schools to the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program.

Nearly 70 Percent of Critical Infrastructure Providers' Information Systems Have Been Breached in Past Year

July 10, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

Only 6 percent of power and water companies say they provide cybersecurity training to all employees.

Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Today the U.S. Defense Department released its strategy for countering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This strategy will direct the department’s efforts to prevent hostile actors from acquiring WMD, contain and reduce WMD threats and ensure the department can respond effectively to WMD crises.

Necessity Drives Joint Information Environment

July 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The shrinking military cannot achieve mission success without the advances promised by the Joint Information Environment, U.S. Defense Department leaders say. Yet the effort itself depends on innovative advances that may lead to changes in doctrine and operations if—and when—they are incorporated into the force.

No clear technology or architecture has emerged to define the JIE. While the military has a goal in mind, it also recognizes that information technologies and capabilities are evolving faster than planners can predict. The commercial sector, which could serve as a fount of ideas for defense networking, itself is structuring its strategies to accommodate unforeseen changes. Different parts of the defense and intelligence communities have their own nonnegotiable requirements for JIE participation.

Different organizations and disciplines strive to break down silos and give the Defense Department its JIE. Leading defense communicators agree that the force cannot prevail in future operations without a single information environment, but they must ensure that it does not ignore the specific needs of some individual elements within the defense community.

Many of these issues were discussed at AFCEA’s three-day JIE Mission Partner Symposium held May 12-14 in Baltimore. Overflow crowds heard speakers and panelists from government, the military and industry discuss the need for the JIE and the challenges that stand in the way of its implementation.

U.S. military forces will not be able to pursue operational goals successfully unless the JIE is implemented, according to a member of the Joint Staff. Lt. Gen. Mark S. Bowman, J-6, The Joint Staff, was unambiguous in his assessment of the JIE’s importance.

Slowing Down Rapid Acquisition

August 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

With the war in Afghanistan winding down, the U.S. Defense Department’s rapid deployment office, which specializes in identifying, developing and quickly fielding game-changing technologies, now will take a more long-term approach. Slightly stretching out the process will offer more flexibility to procure the best possible systems, will present more opportunities for interagency and international cooperation and may cut costs.

Insider Threat Survey Reveals Increased Awareness, Little Action

May 20, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Raytheon-commissioned Ponemon Institute Survey: 88 percent believe privileged user abuse will increase.

Lone Wolf Terrorists Prowl the Balkans

June 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

In the coming months, extremists fighting in the Syrian civil war likely will begin returning to Europe, funneling through the Balkans where they can find cheap weapons, like-minded allies and temporary accomplices in the form of organized criminal groups. Conditions are ripe, according to experts, for those individuals to spread across Europe, launching terrorist attacks on major cities.

China and Russia Pose an Array of Dangers to the West

June 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

China and Russia represent two of the most robust, comprehensive concerns to worldwide stability. Almost every major geostrategic threat—cyber attack, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, capable military forces, political influence, economic power, sources of and high demand for energy—is resident in those two countries that often find themselves at odds with the United States and its allies.

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.

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