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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lisa N. Wolford grew up loving water sports. A former competitive swimmer, she worked as a lifeguard as a teenager and young adult. Later she took up motor boating, kayaking and sailing as well as jet and water skiing. But probably because she came of age in land-locked Nebraska, Wolford never did learn how to surf.
That proved no hindrance later in life. As a federal information technology executive, the former U.S. Marine Corps radio operator figured out how to catch a big wave and ride it to success.
Digital natives probably don’t remember how home TV viewers had to manually adjust “rabbit ears”—those odd-shaped dipole antennas that sat atop a TV sprouting wires and sporting any number of dials to turn in the hope of improving the picture. But when a recently uncovered use for an alloy comprising gallium and indium becomes widespread as the go-to material for antennas, the newest antennas may be able to adjust themselves without a human hand. Although only in the second stage of research, the combination of these well-known materials already has demonstrated that when bent and twisted, antennas return to their original shape; when cut with a razor, they heal.
The convergence of information technology and voice communications is prompting another merger—this one between government and industry. The establishment of the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center late last year is the first step in unifying the effort to keep U.S. information networks and infrastructure secure and to respond immediately in case of attack. The center increases the U.S. government’s ability to detect, prevent, respond to and mitigate disruptions of voice and cyber communications.
Strategic efforts to access top executives’ computers and to steal source code and intellectual property are taking cybercrime beyond simple financial theft. Criminals and foreign organizations are launching more sophisticated and targeted phishing and malware attacks, resulting in more prevalent infiltrations in 2009. Cybercriminals often target social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and use an individual’s personal data to fool friends and colleagues into revealing valuable personal and corporate data.
Researchers are pursuing advances in radio antenna technology to build communication equipment into body armor and to offer more capable and efficient methods for countering roadside bombs. Virtual modeling techniques incorporating developments in materials science currently are testing and verifying prototype equipment before physical testing begins. This combination of cutting-edge research and simulation has rapidly matured these antenna technologies and prepared them for initial operational evaluations.
NATO is transitioning its satellite communications infrastructure from an ownership- and capability-based “bent pipe” arrangement to a more fluid, service-led approach. The challenge for the alliance now is in making plans and provisions for that new capability, which aims at providing a guaranteed ability to obtain the required services to meet collaborative communications needs in space and on the ground.