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Navy to Announce NGEN Winner Tonight

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Navy will announce the winner of the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) tonight, according to Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally, USMC, Marine Corps director of command, control, communications and computers and chief information officer. Gen. Nally discussed the pending decision while participating in a panel discussion on the final day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore.

NGEN is expected to be a multi-billion contract and will replace the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) network implemented about a decade ago. The NGEN contract differs substantially from that of NMCI. The NMCI contract called for a commercial firm to determine and provide network services to the Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps. For NGEN, the government wields control over the network.

The Marine Corps officially took full control of its network from contractors this month, and feedback from around the world has been positive, Gen. Nally indicated. “As of June 1, we became a government-owned, government-operated environment. That means we have more control of the network. We tell the contractors what to do, when to do it and how to do it. The perception throughout the Marine Corps from Okinawa to Europe, Korea, and around the world is that we’re getting things done more efficiently and effectively, and we’ve given flexibility back to the commanders,” Gen. Nally said.

The Marine general reminded the audience that the service started a few years ago to collapse five major unclassified networks into one under the Marine Corps Network Unification Plan. The plan should be complete in the next few years. “That is in full support of the Joint Information Network effort. We’re key players in that,” Gen. Nally said.

Joint Information Environment Serves Five Eye Nations

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 2

The Joint Information Environment (JIE) took center stage during the second day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore. The conference devoted one full panel to the joint environment, but presenters throughout the day stressed the JIE’s importance to the future of the U.S. military and coalition partners, discussed some of the challenges to achieving the vision and vowed that the department will make it happen despite any remaining obstacles.

The JIE is not a program and does not have a budget, some presenters pointed out. It is, instead, a construct what will eventually consolidate all of the Defense Department’s networks into one single, global network, improving interoperability, increasing operational efficiency, enhancing situational awareness and ultimately saving costs.

The United States has been working with the so-called “five eye” nations—which also include Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom—to implement a Joint Information Environment capability, Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, U.S. Army director for command, control, communications and computers for the joint staff, told the audience. The five countries have agreed to share intelligence.

Gen. Bowman described the tactical end of JIE as the Mission Partner Environment. The Mission Partner Environment is essentially the same thing as the Afghan Future Network, which is the preferred terminology within NATO. “We’ve been working this hardest with the five eyes, and we have come up with a system that we’re using today so that we can exchange email and files from our national secret network to their national secret networks,” Gen. Bowman reported. “We just started that this past year. It’s a resounding success, it continues to grow, and we’re putting the rigor into it. That’s the way we need to run forward. We can’t be designing a new network.”

Gaining Consensus on the Joint Information Environment

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Although pockets of resistance still exist, leaders in the Defense Department and military services largely agree on the need for a Joint Information Environment, according to panelists at the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore. The JIE will one day consolidate all of the department’s myriad networks into one while providing enterprise services, such as email, Internet access, common software applications and cloud computing. It is expected to increase operational efficiency, enhance network security and provide cost savings through reduced infrastructure and manpower.

Anthony Valletta, an independent consultant, led the panel with lessons he learned while serving as the assistant secretary of defense for command, control, communications and intelligence the Pentagon. “Don’t tell anyone about the savings you’re going to get because the comptrollers will take the money within two minutes after you’ve made the announcement,” and “get the buy-in from the services,” he warned.

The panelists agreed that buy-in mostly exists already. Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, USA, director of command, control, communications and computers for the joint staff, offered some blunt comments on the JIE. He indicated that the joint environment is his highest priority and described the joint environment as the way to the future. “We have no choice. We have to be interoperable day one, phase one, to plug into any operation anywhere in the world, whether it be for homeland defense, disaster relief here in the United States or some combat operation somewhere around the world with coalition partners,” Gen. Bowman declared.

Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, U.S. Army chief information officer, spoke passionately about the need for JIE, calling it “absolutely essential.” Gen. Lawrence said the real attraction of JIE for the warfighter is that “we’ve got to be able to deploy on little notice into any austere environment.”

DISA Reorganizing to Better Support Warfighters

June 26, 2013
George I. Seffers

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is undergoing a substantial organizational restructuring, which is mostly complete and will be “set in concrete” July 15th. The reorganization will ensure the agency can support the military services, the joint staff, and all warfighting customers as the military moves to the Joint Information Environment, said Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, USAF, DISA director.

The reorganization includes consolidating budgeting-related organizations under the office of the comptroller. The agency also has established a customer resource management office for customer outreach and is looking to optimize operational offices. Additionally, DISA has created a Joint Technical Synchronization Office that will “work hand-in-glove” with the agency’s JIE office that is designed to help the agency move toward the JIE as expeditiously as possible.

The moves have taken place over the past month and will be complete next month.

Gen. Hawkins made the announcement while during his luncheon keynote address on the second day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium.

 

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.”

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