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DISA Eliminating Firewalls

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Defense Department is building a single security architecture that ultimately will eliminate firewalls in the future, according to Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr., USAF, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) director.

The future architecture, the plans for which are not yet set in stone and will likely change, the general cautioned, will be designed to protect data rather than networks. “In the past, we’ve all been about protecting our networks—firewall here, firewall there, firewall within a service, firewall within an organization, firewalls within DISA. We’ve got to remove those and go to protecting the data. You can move that data in a way that it doesn’t matter if you’re on a classified or unclassified network, depending on someone’s credentials and their need to know,” he declared.

“We want to be able to normalize our networks to where you can have the collaboration and information moving over our networks and you don’t have to have the different firewalls, the separate networks, to get those things done,” he added. Additionally, the department can realize significant savings in instrumentation—for example, by moving from “hard phones” to “soft phones,” he said.

Gen. Hawkins stressed the importance of getting “the information to the soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman, wherever it is they may be.”

The single security architecture will improve command and control capabilities, including cyber command and control, he said.

He also discussed the importance of cloud computing. The Defense Department is in the infant stage of deciding how to build the cloud and whether to use a private, public or Defense Department-owned cloud. “We want to do that in fiscal year 14 so that all of this can be automated, and we’re working feverishly to get that done,” he said.

U.S. Military Moving Toward Joint Information Environment

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr., USAF, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), spent some time during his luncheon keynote address talking about the Joint Information Environment (JIE), which the agency already has been working on for some time.

For example, DISA is consolidating data centers from 194 to about 12. Additionally, DISA has helped transition the Army to the enterprise email system. The Army was the first service to move to enterprise email, which officials project will save millions of dollars. The agency is now working with other services, agencies and organizations within the Defense Department to move them toward the new email service, as well. “In fact, at the end of this week, we’re going to be meeting [with the Office of the Secretary of Defense] to begin their migration to the enterprise email. It is working. It is very much a part of everything that we do,” Gen. Hawkins reported.

He revealed that the agency also has a number of pilot programs focused on the integration of voice, data and video. “Everything over [Internet protocol] is where we are going. We are looking at a unified capability being released out of DISA in fiscal year 2015,” he stated.

DISA Prepared to Announce App Store Contractor

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will likely announce within the next couple of weeks who will operate the Defense Department’s mobile app store, said Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr., USAF, DISA director.

The general, delivering the keynote address during the Wednesday luncheon at the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore, described mobile as a disruptive technology for the Defense Department. The agency has distributed secure mobile phones across the department for accessing secure email and other critical services. “It is a game changer from how we’ve been moving information before,” Gen. Hawkins said. “We have been going through that competitive process, and we’re about to release the name of where it is we’re going with that. I can’t tell you who that is because our folks are still working that at the contractual level. I believe that will be done in the next couple of weeks,” he revealed.

Defense Department Reworking Cyber Strategy

June 25, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 1

Maj. Gen. John Davis, USA, senior military advisor for cyber to the U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, set the tone at the 2013 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium, Baltimore, when he told the crowd that his position—which was just approved last August—indicates how seriously senior leaders view the cyber arena to be.

Speakers across the spectrum highlighted the U.S. government’s growing dependence on computer networks and the need to keep those systems secure, even though the vast majority of systems are owned by the private sector. They also emphasized the growing, ever-evolving threat and offered a number of solutions to help tackle the issue.

“In an environment of reduced resources, that the department thought it was worth it to put a general officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy is an indication how serious senior department leaders are taking this particular subject,” Gen. Davis stated. He quoted a number of high-level officials, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his successor Chuck Hagel, both of whom have repeatedly warned of the potential dangers of the cyber threat. “Senior leaders in the department and beyond the department understand that cyber is a problem and cyber is important. They’ve made cyber a priority, and there’s a sense of urgency,” he said.

The general launched an in-depth discussion of the Defense Department’s strategy for operating in cyber space, which he indicated is already outdated. The “thin” little document has been guiding the department for two years. And it’s two years old. "What’s two years in cyber years? They’re kinda like dog years. This is like 20 years old as fast as the cyber domain evolves and changes,” he said. “So, as you might imagine, we are already working on the next version of this and what it will do to drive the department forward for the next several years.”

Government Coping With New Round of Cyber Attacks

June 25, 2013
George I. Seffers

U.S. government officials are traveling the country warning companies about a new round of cyberattacks that have targeted 27 companies, compromised seven and may ultimately affect up to 600 asset owners, according to Neil Hershfield, deputy director, control systems security program (CSSP), Industrial Control Systems-Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), Homeland Security Department.

Hershfield made the comments while taking part in a critical infrastructure protection panel discussion as part of the July 25-27 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium, Baltimore.

“The reason we’re out and about across the country is that we’re seeing a new adversary taking a new approach—rather than spearphishing, they are going after vulnerabilities with [structured query language] injections, and they’re then trying to get across the networks as fast as they can as broadly as they can,” Hershfeld reported. “We’ve been working with our intelligence community partners on this and we’re now going around the country letting people know about it. We basically do this jointly with the FBI, with field offices across the country. When we’re done, we’ll probably talk to 500-600 asset owners.”

Getting the word out is crucial because “the mitigation strategy here for this kind of exploit is significantly different than what you might use in other cases,” he added.

Hershfield is part of an industrial control systems working group, a public-private partnership that is co-led by one person from the private sector and another from the government sector. The group typically meets in-person twice a year, sharing information between the public and private sectors.

United States to Continue Cyber Dialogue With China in July

June 25, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The United States will continue to develop a bilateral relationship with China regarding cybersecurity issues. In fact, the two countries will meet again in Washington, D.C., on July 8th, according to Maj. Gen. John Davis, USA, senior military advisor to the undersecretary of defense—policy for cyber, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Gen. Davis, the luncheon keynote speaker on the first day of the July 24-27 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore, said the United States recognizes China as a rising power and a major voice in the cyber arena.

High-ranking officials from State Department, Defense Department and other agencies, have been engaged in bilateral, multi-lateral and international forums such as the United Nations and NATO. “As an example, of a critical bilateral relationship, I had the great honor to travel to China twice in the last year and engage as part of a collective U.S. academic and government interagency forum with counterpart Chinese academic and government organizations,” Gen. Davis said.

“U.S. senior government officials across the agencies have been actively engaging their Chinese government counterparts, including the People’s Liberation Army, in a number of ways already, and we would like to see those engagements expand,” Gen. Davis reported. “I had the opportunity to personally encourage a more direct military-to-military relationship with China in a serious effort to help our two nation’s militaries better understand each other, to reduce misconceptions, to reduce misinterpretations and ultimately, to reduce the chance of mistakes that can happen in cyberspace and perhaps spill over into the physical domains.”

Streamlining Coalition Mission Network Participation

June 17, 2013
By George I. Seffers

NATO and eight coalition nations participating in the Coalition Warrior Interoperability eXploration, eXperimentation and eXamination, eXercise (CWIX) are working to reduce the amount of time it takes to join coalition networks in the future. On average, it took a year or more for a nation to join the Afghan Mission Network, but officials hope to trim that down to a matter of weeks, says Lt. Col, Jenniffer Romero, USAF, the CWIX Future Mission Network focus area lead.

“On average, it was taking a year, maybe 18 months, for a nation to join the Afghan Mission Network, and usually we don’t have that much time,” says Col. Romero, who also serves as the chief, cyber assessments for the U.S. Joint Staff J6 Command, Control, Communications and Computers Assessments Division.

The network for future operations will be a federated network modeled after the Afghan Mission Network, for which NATO offered the core infrastructure that participating nations could connect with using their own networks. Col. Romero explains that the goal is to have core services up and running on “day zero,” which she defines as the day pre-deployment orders drop. “Our goal is for the lead nation or lead organization to have the core up and running on that day and for people to be able to join within weeks as opposed to months and months,” she says.

To streamline the process, officials are creating templates of instructions for joining future coalition networks, which NATO officials refer to as the Future Mission Network and U.S. officials dub the Mission Partner Environment. For the CWIX exercise, which runs from June 3-20, they have built a mission network that includes core services such as voice, chat, email and document handling. “We’re assessing those core enterprise services on a future mission network that was built for CWIX 13 specifically for that purpose,” the colonel states.

Telecommunications Supply Chain is Safe … for Now

June 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Concerns about the telecommunications supply chain have led U.S. network providers to institute extensive security procedures, but government officials are looking at establishing formal guidelines for procuring network components overseas—for better or worse.

Cyber Command Redefines the Art

June 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Cyber Command is developing a strategy that acknowledges the convergence of network systems by empowering a similar convergence of military disciplines to help place U.S. cyberspace operators on a level field with their malevolent counterparts. This strategy acknowledges that the structure of the cyberforce has not kept pace with technology developments. As all types of information management—networking, communications and data storage—became digitized, previously disparate disciplines assumed greater commonality. With more common aspects, these disciplines share similar vulnerabilities as well as potential solutions.

Informal, Self-Organizing, Ad Hoc
 Relational Networks Are the New Multipliers

June 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

The advent of social networks is transforming the way the military does business. Net-centric warfare once was in vogue, seeking to capture electrons and raw fiber to transform the way combat was fought. Yet an even more powerful and unanticipated net is making waves in remarkable ways. It is the power of relational networks, fostered by loose ties and catalyzed by the proliferation of quickly evolving online platforms.

These networks of individuals are as far removed from centralized chains of command as anyone can be. They span ranks, ages, services and communities. As with water running down a rocky mountain, they find a way to interact and build each other’s knowledge base no matter the formal obstacles laid down by bureaucracy.

The power of these relationships was made very real to me last year when I joined Twitter. Randomly following military-related users, I soon became engaged in deeply strategic conversations with people I never would have found on my own. Senior Army officers were engaging informally with enlisted sailors and deployed Air Force pilots, sparring and parrying with a flurry of articles, links and philosophical references. Nobody told these folks to work together—they simply assembled on their own.

It became apparent that not only were these self-organizing and ever-evolving groups of people learning about warfare in a totally new way, they were becoming friends. Service members continents apart from each other, never having met, now had groups of peers and friends to have a beer with while on temporary assigned duty or leave. Their virtual conversations turned into very real, face-to-face interactions.

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