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Cyber

Embrace Uncertainty, Win the Future

December 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

Two pictures have taken up residence in my mind over the past few weeks. They highlight the growing disconnect between the U.S. Defense Department and the broader strategic environment—not just in terms of geopolitics but also in the way the rest of the world lives, works and interacts.

The first image captures how the Defense Department views the world. It is a simple map with neat lines delineating the different joint combatant commands. While the boundaries make sense in a conventional way, they are drawn merely for geographic convenience. Implicitly, those lines preclude interaction between constituent elements.

The second image is elegant, beautiful and haunting in its complexity. It is an image of the world as it actually is—interconnected, unbounded by geography, spanning the globe with dynamic diversity. This image was the project of Paul Butler, a Facebook intern whose curiosity led him to an interesting project: visualize the relationships for 10 million of the 250 million users on Facebook in 2009. He plotted not only the location of the Facebook user but also more critically the location of each of their friends. This second image is the result.

Each “line” represents the flow of goods, information, ideas and relationships, unbounded by traditional geography. Consider too, the many geopolitical implications inset in the image. For instance, China lacks much “light.” As China is the most populated country in the world, one would expect a beautiful montage of light and lines. Instead, China’s strict Internet controls leave it relatively dark and disconnected.

Threat Grows for Cyber-Physical Systems

November 21, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The critical infrastructure must address cyberthreats in a manner different from that of conventional information technology systems.

Homeland Security Department Seeks Software Assurance Marketplace Participants

November 14, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is seeking participants for the Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP), which is expected to open to beta users in January. The ultimate goal for the marketplace is to help protect the nation’s critical infrastructure by improving software used for essential functions.

New Army Cyber Commander Confronts Personnel, Resource Issues

October 29, 2013
By Max Cacas

The new head of the U.S. Army Cyber Command cites the importance of looking carefully at what cyberwarriors do to determine how best to manage the men and women tasked with protecting the service’s information technology networks. This focus on personnel addresses challenges ranging from retaining talent to ensuring that cyber operations have the best resources—human and technological—for their mission.

Speaking in a media briefing in Washington, D.C., Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, USA, addressed the issue raised by Gen. Keith Alexander USA, head of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, that the disciplines of the signal community, signals intelligence and the cyber community be combined into a “cyberteam community.”

“When you hear this, it’s usually in the context of how you manage a cyberforce, that’s the construct,” Gen. Cardon began. “There are several different ways you can do this in the Army. You can use a skills identifier, you can create a functional area or you can create a separate branch. We have not resolved how we’re going to do this yet.”

With just six weeks on the job under his belt, Gen. Cardon decried “micro-management” efforts by the Army to manage cybersecurity personnel and resources. “I do know that we need to have a way to manage the talent, because it takes a long time to train them. We can’t take the time to train them and then have them for a year and then put them in a regular unit,” he declared. “That would be fiscally irresponsible.” The general went on to say that he is working with Army staff to determine how best to manage the staff under his command.

Global Defense Cybersecurity Market Set to Grow

October 24, 2013

Defense sector-specific solutions are driving growth in the cybersecurity market and will continue to do so through 2016. According to a Research and Markets report, the escalating amount of data stored in defense information systems and the increased number of cyberthreats are a major driver of this trend.

The Failing of Air Force Cyber

November 1, 2013
By 1st Lt. 
Robert M. 
Lee, USAF

The U.S. Air Force cyber community is failing for a single fundamental reason: the community does not exist. In 2010, the communications community began to be identified as the cyber community. An operational cyberspace badge was created, and those who previously had been communications professionals now were seen as cyberwarriors. This change did not effectively take into account that cyber and communications are two distinct fields and should be entirely separate communities.

When attempting to identify cyber operators, it is impossible to look at the cyber Air Force specialty codes (AFSCs) as an indicator. In the officer ranks, only a small fraction ever takes part in on-keyboard or operational missions where the effects of cyber are leveraged for exploitation, attack or defense. Yet, all of the personnel wear the badge and identify themselves, some cynically so, as part of the cybercommunity.

This faux community creates problems when trying to identify the personnel needed for a mission. It is a distinct way of thinking and set of skills that enables an operator to target adversary networks or take an active role in defense. As an example, many people consider themselves computer network defense operators and are consulted as such. Yet, often they participate in more of a communications or maintenance role. They establish, maintain and oversee networks. This is a very important role—maybe even more important than a defense operator’s role when done correctly—but it is different. Applying vendor-issued software patches is not defense; it is maintenance.

Social [Media] Security

October 10, 2013
By Dr. Scott A. Wells

Dr. Scott Wells, co-founder and chief architect of the Social Media Security Professional (SMSP) certification, Ultimate Knowledge Institute, shares some little-known facts about the threats social media pose to organizations and individuals.

How Cyber Savvy Are You?

October 10, 2013

Think you know your way around the internet?  Even the most seasoned web surfer makes mistakes, and new phishing and linkjacking techniques pop up all the time. This quiz will help you identify and address your own security weaknesses.

5 Tips for Cyber Safety on the Road

October 10, 2013
By Patrick J. Kelly, CISSP

You may be away from the office, but you should never take a vacation from cybersecurity. Keep these tips from Patrick J. Kelly in mind on your next trip.

Cyber and Intelligence Need Each Other

October 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Intelligence needs cyber, and cyber needs intelligence. How they can function symbiotically is a less clear-cut issue, with challenges ranging from training to legal policy looming as government officials try to respond to a burgeoning cyber threat.

The cyber threat is growing, and the defense and homeland security communities must strive to keep up with new ways of inflicting damage to governments and businesses. Many experts believe the cyber threat has supplanted terrorism as the greatest national security issue, and new technologies are only one avenue for blunting the menace. Intelligence must expand its palette to identify and detect cyber threats before they realize their malicious goals.

Protecting the nation from cyber attacks entails deterring or preventing marauders from carrying out their malevolent plans. But, while government and the private sector endeavor to fight the menace jointly, evildoers constantly change their approaches and learn new ways of striking at vulnerable points. So many variables have entered the equation that even the likelihood of attacks—along with their effects—is uncertain.

These were among the many points discussed in the two-day AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum held July 30-31 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Nearly all participants agreed that inaction in addressing cyberthreats would be catastrophic for the nation as a whole.

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