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Cyber

NSA Director Says U.S. Is Best at Protecting Civil Liberties

June 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The United States is one of the best in the world at protecting civil liberties, Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, director of National Security Agency (NSA) and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command said at the AFCEA Cyber Symposium in Baltimore.

Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked reams of data about NSA monitoring activities to the press, has been called a hero whistleblower by some, but Gen. Alexander contends that the employees at the NSA, FBI, CIA and Defense Department, who protect the nation while protecting civil liberties, are the real heroes.

As he has before, Gen. Alexander said the leaks have done irreparable harm to national security. “Public discussion of the NSA’s trade craft or the tools that support its operation provides insights that our adversaries—to include terrorists—can and do use to hide their activities. Those who wish us harm now know how we counter their actions. These leaks have caused significant and irreversible damage to our nation’s security. Historically, every time a capability is revealed, we lose our ability to track those targets,” he said. “What is going on with these leaks is unconscionable in my opinion.”

Gen. Alexander pointed out that approved processes exist for whistleblowers to express concern, and he pointed out that Snowden leaked information to the press rather than following those approved processes. “There are lawful and legitimate mechanisms to raise concerns about these programs. The NSA, the Defense Department and the director of national intelligence all have investigator generals who are in a position to do this. An individual acting nobly would have chosen one of those to voice his concerns,” he declared.

He also repeated claims that the monitoring programs have helped protect the United States and its allies on 54 occasions. He added that a recent oversight report found zero instances where the monitoring programs led to civil liberty violations.

Convergence Key to Success in Cyber Domain

June 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Maj. Gen. Burke Wilson, USAF, director, space operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, told the audience that cyber is all about improving operational effectiveness in other domains. “Mission outcome is the only reason we invest in this. We believe it will generate in better mission outcomes across the service,” he stated.

Additionally, the cyber force includes the entire force—not just those trained to operate, maintain and defend the networks, Gen. Wilson offered. “If we give you a keyboard, you are an operator in this domain,” Gen. Wilson said. He also maintained that cyber operations need to follow similar processes to other operational domains. “My experience with operational commanders is that if they’re not familiar with something, they don’t trust it, and they tend not to use it,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, USA, commanding general, Army Cyber Command, talked about the convergence of cyber with other domains. “From a joint perspective but also from the Army perspective, we see that the land and cyber domains are converging. Land is impacted by cyber, and the reverse is true. Humans today operate on both,” Gen. Hernandez pointed out. He added that other areas also are converging and that the convergence of cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum capabilities is key because military systems increasingly rely on both.

Rear Adm. Margaret Klein, USN, chief of staff, U.S. Cyber Command, discussed the need for cyber forces to provide real, demonstrable support to the combatant commands rather than be seen as spreading “fairy dust and calling it cyber.”

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.

Cyberspace is a Team Sport

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Maj. Gen. Jennifer Napper, USA, director of plans and policy, U.S. Cyber Command, and other panelists at the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore said that cyber requires cooperation across the U.S. government, with the private sector and with other nations, including China and Russia.

Gen. Napper cited her decade of experience working with international partners on a variety of projects, plans, initiatives and operations. “While we’ve made great progress in many areas, there’s always room for more improvement. This is especially true in the area of operations in and through cyberspace. This more than any other area must be a team sport,” she said.

She offered three distinct reasons for saying that. Cyberspace includes three layers—physical, virtual and the personas. Additionally, “Whatever we talked about last year, that terminology is now seen as legacy, and that’s been true every year for the last three years in cyberspace. We clearly need to come to a common lexicon, and it has to be common not only in this country but internationally,” she declared. The third reason is that pieces and parts of the infrastructure are owned by the military services, other government agencies and private companies.

Thomas Dukes, deputy coordinator for cyber issues, U.S. State Department, said that the cyber strategy released two years set a precedent. “That was really the first time any country had done something like this, to lay out a vision for the future of cyberspace. That vision is pretty simple. We want to have open, interoperable, secure and reliable cyberspace,” Dukes explained. Achieving the vision, he added, requires cooperation across the government, with the private sector and with other nations.

Many countries followed the U.S. example, releasing cyber strategies of their own.

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