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March 2010

New Document Provides Framework for Interagency Data Sharing

Friday, March 19, 2010
by Henry S. Kenyon, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

A recently released publication is designed to help facilitate information sharing across civilian and military organizations in the U.S. Government. Produced as a joint effort by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Defense Department and the U.S. intelligence community, the document creates a common information security framework for the federal government and the contractors who support it.

The Determined, the Deceitful and the Dimwitted

March 2010

Can technology counteract the determined, the deceitful and the dimwitted? This is a question that has yet to be answered as the Army and other branches look at resuming the use of flash media on military networks.

Recently, the Joint Task Force (JTF) opened the door for allowing the resumption of stored media technology via USB ports. This would reverse the policy change that came into effect approximately a year ago after network infiltration by malicious software residing on a flash device. Several Army organizations are taking a hard look at protecting its networks before allowing the resumption of flash use. Specifically, they want to ensure that only government approved or provided media can be used and that systems and networks are configured to mitigate flash-borne threats effectively.

The banning of flash media, especially the popular and easy to use “thumb drives,” has caused significant inconvenience among those who came to rely on the technology for the fast and easy movement of data between devices. Resumption of flash use will increase efficiency, and in a way increase security by reducing or eliminating the use of even riskier workarounds devised to transport data.

The question is, will all the safeguards in the eventual policy be enough? Portable media has been in use for a long time and the military had a wide ranging set of rules and regulations governing its use. The incidents that prompted the ban would seem to prove that those business practices were not enough. Many technical experts will tell you that technology alone can offer adequate protection. Yet technology is under constant assault from three threats – all human.

International Force Tracking Due for Upgrade in Southwest Asia

March 11, 2010
by Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

Multinational operational commands in Afghanistan and the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) are shaping their requirements to upgrade the International Force Tracking System (IFTS). Although not finalized, one new requirement calls for a system capacity increase of at least 500 percent. Accomplishing this task will involve configuration and software changes and will likely include replacing certain components to facilitate capacity growth.

According to André Regtien, principal scientist, NATO NC3A, currently the priority is both to boost capacity and improve responsiveness, for example through reduced and distance-sensitive refresh rates and reduced latency. After the requirements have been approved, the IFTS upgrade should be able to deliver these enhancements in the near future, he says.

The IFTS serves as an interoperability hub for the multinational coalition systems in place in Afghanistan. It receives and distributes tracking information to and from other national force tracking systems and boosts the effectiveness of Afghanistan’s systems.

Army Looks for a Few Good Apps

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Online Exclusive

The U.S. Army has announced the Apps for the Army (A4A) challenge, a three-month outreach to the service’s active duty, National Guard and civilian employees that will award as much as $2,000 to the top entries.

Disaster Relief 2.0

March 2010
By Linton Wells II, SIGNAL Magazine

Tragedy can bring opportunity—in this case, to help save lives and reconstruct nations using the communications and information sharing tools that are the strengths of AFCEA’s members. Shame on us if we squander it.
Despite the suffering wrought by January’s earthquake in Haiti, the crisis showed how innovative knowledge sharing could dramatically improve public-private, whole-of-government and transnational performance in stressed environments. It is up to us to turn these into lasting effects.

Cyberspace Issues Touch Everyone

March 2010
By Kent R. Schneider, SIGNAL Magazine

Probably no other area is receiving more attention and more discussion in the global security community than cyberspace. The realm of cyberspace is so critical to every part of society that it finally has been recognized as both a major asset and a threat environment. It could have tremendous impact on defense as well as crucial industries such as finance, energy, water and others if denied to nations or companies. As a result, every nation is trying to define its roles and vulnerabilities in cyberspace, and alliances such as NATO are creating organizations and procedures to strengthen their position.

Extraterrestrial System Sharpens Tactical Eyes on the Ground

March 2010
By Brig. Gen. Bernard K. Skoch, USAF (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

Ask any small unit deployed in theater, and troops will say their number one communications challenge is obtaining ready access to reliable, real-time voice and data connectivity. An innovative satellite-based tactical communications system featuring a unique multicast one-to-many architecture is helping warfighters solve that problem, and it works virtually anywhere, including the challenging terrain of Afghanistan.

Cyber Tasks Intelligence Community

March 2010
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Magazine

The U.S. intelligence community may be a beneficiary of increased government funding for cyberspace, but it is facing considerable acquisition challenges before it commits to spending money in that pipeline. The intelligence office in charge of acquisition and technology is striving to establish a new relationship between badly needed research and development and the delivery of new systems to its customers.

Defense Department Seeks Big-Picture View of Systems

March 2010
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Magazine

The Defense Information Systems Agency is improving military networks by increasing the situational awareness of their statuses. The process enables people with permission to evaluate where a problem exists anywhere on a network, so they can reduce the time and resources necessary to fix it. Personnel also will be able to route their data better by understanding where failures occur and how to work around them.

Simulation Project Demonstrates Covert Applications

March 2010
By Rita Boland, SIGNAL Magazine

Researchers in the United Kingdom have completed a preliminary investigation into the use of millimeter-wave, body-worn antenna arrays to create mobile ad hoc networking for dismounted combat soldiers. The effort proved the feasibility and benefits of such a network as well as provided a platform for future study of the concept. Personnel involved in the experiments focused their work on the 60-GHz band, which offers the high amount of bandwidth necessary for troops to exchange large quantities of information on the battlefield. The short range of the communications enhances covertness by reducing the chance for enemies to exploit transmissions, and it also reduces interference.

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