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Security

Coalition Operations Pose Significant Information Security Challenges

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

U.S. Pacific Command military leaders agree that any future operation will be conducted amid a coalition, and partner countries must be networked. However, that networking opens the possibility for greatly increased network vulnerabilities as less-secure nations provide weak links for network security.

Threat Grows for Cyber-Physical Systems

November 21, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The critical infrastructure must address cyberthreats in a manner different from that of conventional information technology systems.

Intelligence Leaders Seek Common Interests With China

November 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Pacific Command intelligence community is fostering an increased dialogue between China and other nations with interests in the Pacific Rim. The expanded effort is designed to build trust, avoid misunderstandings and improve cooperation in areas where China’s national interests converge with the national interests of the United States and others.

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.

Closing the Door on 
Iris Recognition Vulnerabilities

September 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

A simple capability found in most cameras may enable security experts to counter efforts by terrorists and other security threats to spoof iris recognition systems. The new approach focuses on eye function in addition to appearance, thus unmasking several types of deception that either would conceal a real iris or would fool a detection system into false acceptance.

Iris recognition employs near-infrared or visible light scanning to record the pattern in an individual’s iris, which barring injury remains largely unchanged in a person from the age of 9 months. Near-infrared scanners reveal texture, and visible light shows pigmentation. Iris recognition systems can be used as security devices that admit only people whose iris patterns are cleared for access in a database, or they can be used to identify terrorists or other criminals who have been scanned and whose patterns already are on file.

However, these detection systems can be fooled by covering or altering the appearance of the iris. Criminals who want to avoid detection can wear a cover that conceals their incriminating iris. Similarly, someone who wants to impersonate a cleared individual at a security checkpoint can wear a fake iris that portrays the pattern on the original trusted individual.

The new counter to these and other types of iris recognition spoofing comes from one of the men who shares the patent for the original technique. Dr. Leonard Flom, principal investigator of biometrics and assistant clinical professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the New York University School of Medicine, developed iris recognition in 1987 with the late Dr. Aran Safir.

Flom describes five ways of spoofing iris recognition. The first way is to dilate a pupil to the maximum extent possible. This way, the iris pattern is not recognized by a scanner.

Telecommunications Leaves Mark on Afghanistan

September 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

A massive telecommunications infrastructure modernization effort in Afghanistan is designed to contribute to socioeconomic development; provide entry into the global information society; and support national prosperity, sustainability and stability. A key part of that effort is coming to fruition: officials with a telecommunications advisory group in that country expect the completion very soon—possibly this month—of a fiber-optic ring around the nation’s perimeter.

Cyber Threats Abound, but Their Effects Are Not Certain

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Protecting the nation from cyber attack 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.
 

SCADA Systems Face Diverse Software Attack Threats

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems face numerous threats from cybermarauders coming at them from any of a number of directions. Some systems could suffer malware attacks even though they are not the intended targets, according to a leading security expert.

Cyber Sabotage Attacks the Century’s Worst Innovation

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

One of the world’s leading experts on cybersecurity calls cyber sabotage attacks “the worst innovation of this century.” Cyberweapons have become too dangerous, and cyberattack can lead to visible and important damage to the critical infrastructure or telecommunications. And, attribution is almost impossible.

Democracy Is Doomed Without Effective Digital Identification

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Democracy has only 20 years left to live if an effective means of digital identification is not developed before that deadline. As young people growing up with social media reach voting age in increasing numbers, they will lead a major shift to online voting. A lack of identity security will throw open the gates to massive voter fraud that will destroy the fidelity of elections, and with it, true representative government.

That gloomy assessment came from one the world’s leading experts on cybersecurity. Speaking at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive officer and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, warned that this will be a consequence of the failure to secure the Internet.

“Kids today are always online,” he pointed out. “They will want to vote online. We need a 100-percent, biometric-based digital identification card.”

Issuing this type of identification will help secure the Internet if it is restructured, Kaspersky continued. He suggested splitting the Internet into different components: One would be highly secure, where financial transactions would take place, and another would be totally open for noncrucial activities with no identification required. Other segments with varying degrees of importance and security would be located in between these two extremes, he offered.

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