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SIGNAL Online Exclusives

Cyber Attacks Reveal Infrastructure Holes

May 30, 2012
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

More cyber attacks launch from within the United States than anywhere else according to the latest threat report from McAfee, but the implications of the statistics are less obvious than they appear. Cybercriminals from other nations are routing their aggression through vulnerable U.S. Internet protocol (IP) addresses because outdated domains make easy targets. So while the country might not be the biggest breeding ground for hackers, its infrastructure has troubling weaknesses.

Websites that have gone without updates for the past five to six years are easy targets for malicious actors who exploit the outdated security and coding. "Our infrastructure has shown a lot of signs of weakness and age to be exploited," Adam Wosotowsky, messaging data architect at McAfee, explains. Part of the problem lies in the fact that the United States is an Internet pioneer. People from other countries often host their sites through U.S. infrastructure because it can withstand threats such as denial-of-service attacks. In addition, since no other country has more advanced Internet experience, the United States has to initiate solutions.

Older domains also are a commodity to hackers, because officials have a harder time blocking them. When a site is known to be malicious, measures can be taken to refuse content from it. But when an address historically has been trusted, blocking content becomes more complex.

Army Turns Bases Into System Docking Stations

May 24, 2012
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

The U.S. Army is making good on the mantra "train as you fight" by connecting units in garrison with the same mission command systems they use during deployments. Breaking through the bureaucracy inherent in putting these tactical technologies on a strategic network means that soldiers will be better prepared for their work in theater.

Improving Intelligence Interoperability

May 21, 2012
By George I. Seffers, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

The U.S. Defense Department is continually improving one of its major intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance collection and distribution systems to improve interoperability among the military services and coalition allies and to make the information more readily available, increasing situational awareness on the battlefield.

The Evolving, Ever-present Cybersecurity Threat

May 11, 2012
By Max Cacas, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

The cyberthreat to the natural gas infrastructure is just a brushstroke in a bigger picture of an ongoing and evolving cybersecurity threat to the government and the nation, according to Greg Wilshusen, director of information security issues with the Government Accountability Office.

Joint Information Enterprise Rocks

May 3, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

The U.S. Defense Department's Joint Information Enterprise (JIE), launched by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Operational Deputies, will be built on "five big rocks," according to the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., USN, told the audience at the AFCEA NOVA Naval IT Day on May 3 that big rocks must serve as the foundation so that little rocks can be implemented atop them.

Corruption Could Cloud Afghanistan's Future

April 24, 2012
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

The situation in Afghanistan is good but not great, and corruption is the biggest problem facing the nation, according to Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan Jr., USMC. The corruption comes in two forms: the parasitic type found in the central government and the predatory corruption found in the military and police forces, especially the Afghan National Police. At the high level, dishonest officials use the current weak state of the Afghan government as a host off which they feed, often also making money from the drug trade.

Report Recommends Relaxing Satellite Export Controls

April 18, 2012
By George I. Seffers, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

The report also recommends that Congress return to the president the authority to determine the export control jurisdictional status of satellites and related items.

State Department Seeks Expanded UAV Security Fleet

April 13, 2012
By Max Cacas, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

The U.S. State Department wants to spend as much as $1 billion over the next five years to expand its fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to be used primarily for embassy security and to protect transportation routes.

The agency's formal request for proposal seeks bids for "real-time air surveillance of fixed installations, proposed movement routes, and special events thereby improving security in high-threat or potentially high-threat environments."

Day/Night ISR Floats Over Afghanistan

April 3, 2012
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

Tethered aerostats with Persistent Threat Detection Systems that fly over separate forward operating bases in Afghanistan received capability upgrades recently with the addition of new Kestrels. Unlike the former versions, the revamped technology includes electro-optical/infrared features, enabling users to have a 360-degree view of targets in a city-size area after sundown and during the day.

Terrorists, Organized Crime Increase Teaming Efforts

March 29, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

Securing the homeland will require closer cooperation among military and civilian government organizations as diverse threats adopt each others' tactics and techniques. Terrorists, smugglers and other organized crime entities have learned from each other and, in some cases, are joining forces to threaten Western democracies in new ways. Testifying before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Michael A. Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, described a menacing trend in which "terrorism, drug trafficking and other types of transnational organized crime are increasingly intertwined."

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