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Cyber

Budget Problems Impact Science and Technology Personnel as Much as Programs

April 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Gadgets and gizmos are not the only things beset by the U.S. Defense Department’s continued battle with shrinking budget dollars. While some projects may be delayed, and others even derailed, the civilian work force “is now showing the early signs of stress,” Alan Shaffer, acting assistant defense secretary for research and engineering, recently warned Congress.

Furloughs, the government shutdown and sequestration, and decreasing budgets have an adverse impact on the 100,000 personnel that make up the Defense Department’s science and technology (S&T) work force.

“Combined with summer furloughs triggered by sequestration, FY13 presented unique challenges to a work force that had grown for the previous three years to meet the department’s increasing demand for technical and engineering talent to lead the development of increasingly sophisticated weapon systems,” spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea says.

Young workers leave the federal government for better-paying, and more stable, jobs in the civilian sector, and those who stay contribute to a faintly aging civilian work force.

“We saw a number of young scientists and engineers leave in 2013, early in their career. In conducting exit interviews, our laboratory directors reported that these young workers consistently cited travel and conference restrictions, as well as perceived instability of a long-term career, as motivating factors for their departure,” Elzea says.

The average age of scientists went from 45.6 years to 45.7 years, and for engineers from 43.2 years to 43.9 years. “Although the change seems minimal over the past two years, it reverses the trend over the past decade, when we had been driving the average age down,” she says.

Just How Important Is the Joint Information Environment (JIE)?

May 1, 2014
by Kent R. Schneider

Anyone following the progress of the Joint Information Environment (JIE) knows by now that it is not a program of record. No one will see large procurements to provide the JIE. It definitely is a framework: it defines standards and architectures for consistency across the defense environment. It defines a core environment and interfaces for the connection of networks and systems to the core. The JIE leverages initiatives to consolidate networks and data centers, to establish enterprise services and to implement transitional technologies such as cloud implementations, mobility, security solutions, big data and analytics, and the Internet of everything. It is a coordinating effort, using existing and planned programs, contracts and initiatives to provide a common operating environment rather than start with new acquisitions.

It is important to understand the JIE extends well beyond the boundaries of defense. It provides the path for better information sharing with other federal, state, local and tribal networks and systems. It is vital to achieving interoperability and ease of information sharing along with security with U.S. coalition partners.

Recently, I was in Europe attending AFCEA TechNet International and NATO C4ISR Industry Days, which are fully integrated in a single program. Key to this conference is AFCEA’s partnership with the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency. An important element of this conference was reporting on the state of development of the Federated Mission Network (FMN), an evolution of the Afghan Mission Network (AMN), the information sharing environment created in Afghanistan to support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The FMN is intended to institutionalize the AMN experience to provide an adaptable framework for information sharing in future NATO engagements, whether combat or humanitarian assistance.

Joint 
Information Environment 
Logs Successes, 
Faces Snags

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The Defense Department drive toward its Joint Information Environment is picking up speed as it progresses toward its goal of assimilating military networks across the warfighting realm. Individual services are developing solutions, some of which are targeted for their own requirements, that are being applied to the overarching goal of linking the entire defense environment.

Early successes in Europe have advanced Joint Information Environment (JIE) efforts elsewhere, including the continental United States. Some activities have been accelerated as a result of lessons learned, and they have been implemented ahead of schedule in regions not slated to receive them for months or even years.

However, significant hurdles remain, and not all participants are equally supportive of the effort. Overcoming major cultural challenges may be the most difficult task facing JIE implementation. And, the omnipresent budget constraints facing the entire Defense Department may extend into the JIE, even though it is not officially a program of record.

Senior Defense Department leaders do not hesitate to emphasize the importance of the JIE to future military operations. David DeVries, deputy Defense Department chief information officer (CIO) for information enterprise, describes the JIE as a unifying effort to do “the largest wholesale information technology modernization in the history of the department.”

Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., USAF, director, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), avows, “The next type of enterprise that our Defense Department will be postured to utilize in the next conflict—be it kinetic or nonkinetic—the JIE will be an integral part of that environment.”

Mitigating the Heartbleed Cyberthreat

April 14, 2014
By Rita Boland

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released guidance to help citizens protect themselves from the recent Heartbleed cyberthreat. This bug makes websites that use OpenSSL vulnerable to attacks that could be used to obtain names, passwords and credit card numbers.

JIE May Enable Faster Mobile App Deployment

April 7, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Once the Joint Information Environment (JIE) is in place, the U.S. Defense Department may be able to deploy secure mobile apps much more quickly than it can with today’s cumbersome process, according to Teri Takai, Defense Department chief information officer.

Student CyberPatriot Competition Wraps Up

April 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

High school students from six schools across the nation will split $50,000 in scholarships after competing in the CyberPatriot VI competition, a culminating tournament in which participants tested strategies to defend computers and networks against cyber attacks. CyberPatriot kicked off in November with roughly 1,600 students from all 50 states and wrapped up March 29, 2014.

Cybersecurity Lies Take Longer than Cybersecurity Truth

March 24, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Attacks on a computer’s Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) do not receive a lot of attention, and protecting against them is often not a priority, but they are on the rise, say researchers at The MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit research organization funded by the U.S. government. The MITRE team is developing tools to protect against BIOS attacks and is searching for organizations to help evaluate those tools.

Seeking a Role in Marine Corps Cyber

April 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

A tactical technology support organization that has been serving the U.S. Marines for decades is beginning to find a role in the cyber domain. The group offers a broad range of services, including test and evaluation, engineering and network integration. It also supports users across the Defense Department, U.S. government and allies.

Cybersecurity Tentacles Entwine Government

March 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

It is not surprising that cybersecurity would dominate the discussion on the second day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. But the depth and breadth and variety of topics surrounding cybersecurity and information protection in all its forms indicates the degree to which the information security mission has engulfed every department and agency at all levels of government.

Chief Information Security Officers Support Continous Diagnostics and Mitigation Program

March 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Chief information security officials from various agencies voiced support for the Department of Homeland Security's Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) Program, which is designed to fortify computer networks across the federal government. The officials spoke out in support of the program while serving on a panel during the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference, Washington, D.C. Panel moderator John Streufert, director of Federal Network Resilience at the Department of Homeland Security, took the opportunity to put some rumors to rest.

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