AFCEA's ninth annual Homeland Security Conference kicked off yesterday morning with a panel session focused on cybersecurity issues. The panelists highlighted a variety of ongoing federal initiatives to defend the nation's critical infrastructure from cyberattacks and discussed some of the new threats developing in cyberspace.
No, I'm not talking about the classic Marilyn Monroe film; I'm talking about AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference, going on this Wednesday and Thursday. The theme is "DHS: The 7-Year Itch-Renewing the Commitment." The event will cover such topics as cybersecurity, securing social media, transparency, identity management, information and intelligence sharing, and more.
The research projects arm of DHS is crafting new tech tools to protect and enhance the national infrastructure.
"My answer about how to treat pirates? Kill them." --Col. David W. Coffman, USMC, commander, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., is accelerating its implementation and use of information technology to meet the terrorist threat that looms over the U.S. capital. This includes adapting everyday police technologies for homeland security and counterterrorism operations, and it also involves bringing in new capabilities from the civil and private sectors.
Law enforcement personnel are employing a new system that enables them to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated data in an unprecedented manner. The technology correlates information from various databases, allowing users to learn more about subjects of interest than they could with previous methods. Each increment of the system’s deployment offers additional information fields and introduces new tools.
In the near future, first responders could use cellular telephones to sweep sites for hazardous chemicals and then rapidly seal off mass transit tunnels with inflatable plugs, preventing the spread of toxic gases. These and other technologies are being developed by a U.S. government research organization focused on creating revolutionary advances in homeland security processes and applications.
The DHS has instituted a new job application process for cybersecurity positions. The good news? It's free of KSAs. Right now the agency is hosting a virtual job fair for those interested. Applicants no longer have to worry about KSAs or a points system; they simply submit cover letters and résumés, which are reviewed by hiring managers. DHS officials will then contact candidates of interest to invite them to a private interview event.
February may seem far away, but it will be here in no time at all. Make plans now to attend two great events: the West 2010 Conference in San Diego and the Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.
"When I look at our adversaries around the world, what I see is that we can no longer kid ourselves into believing that we face challenges that will be easily boxed based on regions and categories."--The Honorable Michael Chertoff
MILCOM 2009's first panelists spoke about the practical challenges of the convergence of communications capabilities.
The U.S. Coast Guard is taking steps to enhance its command, control, intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities with new unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and network-centric systems for its ships. At a press briefing late last week, RAdm. Ronald J. Robago, USCG, the service's new assistant commandant for acquisitions, discussed steps being taken to evaluate and select a new shipboard UAS.
The Defense Information Systems Agency is stepping up its outreach to homeland security partners in all tiers of government in another Defense Department effort to improve interoperability. Plans include building personal relationships and improving technical knowledge as personnel from the agency attend increasing numbers of events across the nation. The agency also is pursuing more formal synchronizations through high-level channels. Officials believe the work will result in better, more coordinated responses to catastrophes. The work often places the federal agency in a consultant role, advising others on best practices and new ideas for purchases and procedures.
An international research group is promoting the use of affordable, sustainable technologies to support stressed groups of people in the wake of natural and manmade disasters. These methods include the use of commercial shelters, water purification systems, solar power and lighting that can be rapidly acquired in bulk and shipped to a stricken area. By working across the government-civilian spectrum of agencies, organizations and nonprofit entities, the group seeks to create open-source resource templates that can be accessed by disaster management personnel.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded a grant for online donations management to control resources coming in during disaster response. This thrust to share information virtually streamlines efforts among government and private organizations as well as individuals, increasing the efficiency of outreach and eliminating the burden of unusable supplies. Through the system, the government and its associates can fill needs in the right places with the right solutions with less trouble and more collaboration.
The U.S. Army sector of U.S. Northern Command is contributing to homeland security and defense by bringing communications where and when it is needed most. To enhance its ability to keep leaders and first responders connected, U.S. Army North recently opened a new network operations center at its home base in San Antonio. The center provides situational awareness of the plethora of connectivity equipment the organization literally sends out into the field during both natural and manmade crises.
Defending the critical infrastructure of the United States is a difficult and complex job. Federal agencies are tasked with determining the security of a variety of interconnected systems, which can affect entire regions—or the whole nation—in a catastrophic cascade of failures in the event of a major disaster or terrorist attack.
Some of the most forward-thinking minds in the U.S. Defense Department that regularly tackle the tough tactical problems in the Global War on Terrorism are applying their innovative ideas at home. These architects who design the latest military approaches to defeating the enemy are assisting combatant commands, specifically the U.S. Northern Command, to determine the best ways to support homeland defense. In addition, these experts are ferreting out the most ideal balance for the department in its support to civil authorities. Recent experiments that demonstrate technical capabilities are bridging the gap between the military, other government agencies and civilian organizations by facilitating information sharing and creating critical partnerships that are essential during times of crisis.
A system that combines U.S. Navy and Coast Guard requirements for port security may be the key to securing harbors against maritime threats. Built largely with off-the-shelf technologies, the system can allow officials to monitor ship traffic by combining database knowledge with real-time sensor input.