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Security

Power Grid Study Cites “Inherent Vulnerability” to Terrorist Attack, Natural Disaster

November 29, 2012
By Max Cacas

A newly released study on America’s electrical power transmission system strongly suggests that the government and industry take steps to safeguard it from shortcomings that make it vulnerable to things such as terrorist attack and acts of nature. Potential solutions will require not only ingenuity and technology, but investment and political decisiveness.

Information Technology Users and Managers Continue to Lag on Security

November 14, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

Either complacency or innovative attackers have lessened the effectiveness of conventional computer and network security measures.

Hacktivism Up, Denial of Service Down in Internet Malfeasance

November 14, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

People with attitudes represent the current bow wave of Web attacks.

Cyber Committee Shares Expertise

November 15, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

Ranging in topics from cloud computing to supply chain management, AFCEA’s Cyber Committee has published five white papers. Available on the committee’s website, information ranges from the basics to high-level recommendations that will be useful not only to organizations’ information technology personnel but also to leadership planning strategies for the future.

 

Managing Change in the
 Intelligence Community

October 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

A new computing architecture emphasizes shared resources.

The nation’s intelligence community has embarked on a path toward a common computer desktop and a cloud computing environment designed to facilitate both timely sharing of information and cost savings. The implementation could result in budget savings of 20 to 25 percent over existing information technology spending within six years, but the ramifications could include large cultural changes that result both in lost jobs and business for industry partners.

Al Tarasiuk, chief intelligence officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), explains that the changes will be difficult. Agency employees, and the vendors who help operate and manage information technology for the 17 agencies composing the nation’s intelligence apparatus, will feel the effects of the cost cuts.

“Right now, technology is not our biggest risk. The culture change is our biggest risk, and that extends to our industry partners. We have a lot of industry employed in the community through service contracts and other things. They could help, or they could choose not to help,” Tarasiuk emphasizes, candidly describing the pivotal role of these firms in a transition that could spell the loss of both business and jobs. “They know, and I’ve been very open with them, that we’re not going to need the pool of resources of people that we have today to manage what we have in the future.”

Writing
 a New Spy School
 Syllabus

October 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

The National Intelligence University prepares for its fifth decade with a shift in focus and a change in venue.

The National Intelligence University, which provides advanced training to U.S. intelligence professionals, is transitioning from an institution primarily focused on the U.S. Defense Department to one serving the entire intelligence community. This reflects the new emphasis toward sharing and collaboration within the nation's intelligence apparatus.

To make the change a reality, National Intelligence University (NIU) leaders are rethinking and expanding the educational programs the institution offers. Plans also are underway to relocate the university to its own new campus in the very near future—in part to bolster its perception as an intelligence community strategic resource.

Dr. David R. Ellison, president of the NIU, says that the change began with the appointment of James Clapper as the director of National Intelligence in 2010. “Director Clapper recognized that if we were going to have a National Intelligence University in the intelligence community, the best place to start was with an accredited institution that had already achieved success in an academic area,” Ellison explains. He adds that Clapper went on to draft a memorandum to then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, defining education as a force multiplier and a tool that must be used to the advantage of the entire intelligence community.

“What he envisioned was that the then-National Intelligence College would become the National Intelligence University, and it would provide accredited education, academic research and academic outreach to the intelligence community as a whole,” Ellison points out.

Intelligence CIOs Teaming for Change

October 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

New common goals open doors for more efficient approaches to information sharing.

Technological and cultural barriers are falling away as intelligence community organizations strive to establish a collaborative environment for sharing vital information. This thrust may be a case of an urgent need overcoming traditional obstacles as onetime rival groups embrace cooperation with the goal of building a synergistic information realm.

This effort comprises several initiatives that range from establishing a common information interface to moving to the cloud. Along with programs to meet technological challenges, the thrust has changed relationships among agencies and even the nature of some intelligence organizations.

These initiatives have brought the FBI back into the core of intelligence community information sharing. For several years, the bureau has been migrating toward becoming a domestic intelligence organization concurrent with its law enforcement activities. It faces different hurdles than those confronted by defense-oriented intelligence agencies, but some of the solutions realized by the bureau might be applied across the intelligence community.

Other organizations in the intelligence community are weighing different options. Their chief information officers (CIOs) are dealing with the challenges inherent in sharing information across organizational lines, but with different approaches that may based in part on whether they largely are the collectors or the processors. Regardless, the information technology element of the intelligence community is becoming more integrated, says Grant M. Schneider, deputy director for information management and CIO at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Cool App-titude: Wickr

July 3, 2012
By Rachel Eisenhower

What if your smartphone messages could self-destruct to ensure ultimate privacy and control over the content? No, it's not a scene from a spy movie. The newly released Wickr app for iPhone encrypts communication and permanently deletes personal data from your device.

Survey Sheds Light on Smart Grid Security Concerns

April 19, 2012

More than 70 percent of energy security professionals believe smart grid security standards cannot keep pace with the ever-changing technology and threats, according to a recent survey.

Automatic Electronic Identity Provides Information Security

June 2011
By Petr Jirásek, SIGNAL Magazine

A new approach to electronic security access employs an authentication framework designed to provide automatic identity without many of the drawbacks of traditional approaches. Instead of compromising between ease of use and effective access protection, this system aims to adopt the best of both worlds. Developed in the Czech Republic, the new approach already is in use in national and regional government organizations.

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