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Event Coverage

Financial Incentives May Compel Private Sector Security

July 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Legislation that creates both positive and negative incentives may be necessary for industry to incorporate effective network security. The role of the insurance industry also can be brought to bear to convince companies it is in their best interest to ensure the sanctity of their data.

These points were offered by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX). He told the morning audience at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that the government should pursue a private sector approach as part of its efforts to strengthen information security in the United States.

“We need to make cyber a bigger deal at the CEO [chief executive officer] level, and to do that we need to have money involved,” he said. This would include market incentives for companies to secure their information. And, the counterpart would be a financial penalty for those firms that do not pursue adequate security.

“You have to have a stick with those carrots,” he continued. “A company that loses vital data because they didn’t have effective security involved pays a price.”

The congressman added that the insurance industry should be brought into play as well. The government needs to push cyber insurance that establishes minimum requirements and provides discounts for advanced security measures. This might work the same way that auto and home insurers provide discounts for safety technologies.

Congressman Decries “Political Demagogues” Who Threaten Security Measures

July 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Many elected officials who opposed the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) broad surveillance efforts were “demagogues” who did not know the real issues involved, said a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) told the morning audience at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that the people in the House who voted to cut funding for the NSA’s surveillance efforts preferred taking a stand to understanding the situation. Those who voted against cutting the NSA’s funding were the people who’ve been getting the intelligence briefings.

Rep. Thornberry decried the NSA’s opponents as “people who don’t want to go to the briefings, they don’t want their minds to be cluttered by the facts, they just want to feed their Twitter streams.” Those who did attend the briefings understood the scope of the threat and recognized the vital importance of these efforts in protecting the United States.

The NSA controversy provides some guidelines, he continued. It points out that the real challenge is with laws and policies—above all, public confidence. As the threat has grown, policies have not kept up. The country needs an open discussion with as many facts that can be publicized.

“The more we can talk about cyber and intelligence in the open, the better we will be … the less the demagogues can take it and run with it,” the congressman declared.

Senate to Bring Cyber Bill Mirroring House Effort

July 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Senate is moving on a cyber bill that is more in line with the approach being taken by the House, said a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) told the morning audience at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that this bill may be marked up by the Senate Commerce Committee this week. It would turn to standards established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for private sector guidelines.

Thornberry reflected on how the House passed four separate cyber bills a year ago, but they died in the Senate as that body pursued a single large bill. The congressman endorsed the House concept of legislating cybersecurity in “discrete, bite-size chunks” that reach across the relevant government committees and agencies.

The congressman called for greater cooperation between Congress and the White House, saying that this can produce a cyber policy that benefits the nation as a whole. The more the administration and Congress work together, the more their work becomes the policy of the nation rather than that of any particular administration, Republican or Democrat. “Only with this partnership can we have the solutions the country needs,” he declared.

A Joint Environment Changes Everything

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., USCG, assistant U.S. Coast Guard commandant for command, control, communications and information technology, sees the Joint Information Environment as an opportunity to resolve some of the most pressing information technology problems in the years to come as he faces a future with more challenges and fewer resources. He says a military-wide common operating environment will establish “enterprisewide mandates that programs cannot ignore.”

The admiral told the recent AFCEA Solutions Series–George Mason University Symposium, “Critical Issues in C4I,” the Joint Information Environment (JIE) will allow for more efficient system configurations and facilitate consolidation of the Coast Guard’s information technology work force. As the director of the U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command, he also is mindful that the JIE will improve his ability to control what devices are attached to the network, giving him, for example, the opportunity to quickly detect and order the removal of an unauthorized USB thumb drive inserted into a secure network computer.

Hewing to the reality of doing more with less, the admiral also told conference attendees that within the next eight months, the Coast Guard is expected to move to the U.S. Defense Department’s enterprise email system. Adm. Day stated that even though this move initially may cost more in some cases, the long-term benefits to the service will mitigate and justify some of those costs. In addition, acknowledging the futility of reinventing the wheel, he noted that the Coast Guard is adopting the U.S. Air Force’s Virtual Flight Bag, which replaces nearly 300 pounds of printed manuals and charts carried aboard aircraft by crews. Apple iPads will be loaded with digital copies of the same material.

Resource Reductions Dominate Planning

July 1, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Today’s financial skimping will lead to military forces and equipment that are short on readiness for future conflicts. Cutbacks in training and travel to conferences where service members network, learn about the latest in technologies and benefit from educational courses is one way to meet mandated budget cuts; but in the long term, they will result in service members who are ill-prepared to meet the challenges of what some believe will be a volatile future. Simultaneously, reductions in maintenance of vehicles, networks and ships will result in higher repair bills much like a car that is not routinely taken to the shop ends up costing the owner more to fix in the long run.

This was the general consensus of the military, government and industry experts who spoke at the East: Joint Warfighting 2013 conference at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in May. The participants represented all of the military services as well as the international community.

Adm. William E. Gortney, USN, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, opened the event saying that the military and industry are facing a decade of change and choices. As the services are ramping down from combat mode, they are refocusing on the Pacific theater, which is more of an intellectual shift in Washington, D.C., than a military change, Adm. Gortney said. While resources are on the decline now, the admiral believes economics is and always has been a sine wave, up at times and down at others. The U.S. Defense Department’s budget will increase again, and the department must be ready. “The only way we’re going to get through this is to lead our way to the other side,” the admiral said.

NSA Director Defends Intelligence Workforce

June 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 3

Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, who directs the National Security Agency (NSA) and commands U.S. Cyber Command, wrapped up the final day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium with a strongly-worded defense of the U.S. intelligence community, which is under fire following recently-leaked documents concerning the collection of data on the online activities of ordinary citizens in the United States and abroad. The general deviated from the topic of cyber long enough to address the controversy.

The NSA director said intelligence community employees protect the nation and civil liberties simultaneously. “These leaks have inflamed and sensationalized for ignoble purposes the work the intelligence community does lawfully under strict oversight and compliance. If you want to know who who’s acting nobly, look at the folks at NSA, FBI, CIA, and the Defense Department who defend our nation every day and do it legally and protect our civil liberties and privacy. They take an oath to our constitution—to uphold and defend that constitution,” he said. “They’re the heroes our nation should be looking at.”

During the question and answer session, Gen. Alexander also praised contractors who work for the intelligence community. “From my perspective, we couldn’t do our job without the contractors or the help we get from industry. That’s been absolutely superb. One individual has betrayed our trust and confidence, and that shouldn’t be a reflection on everybody else,” he stated.

In fact, he said, the United States government is one of the best in the world at protecting data on individuals. “Most nations around the world collect signals intelligence just like we do. And they’re governments use lawful intercept efforts that require and compel companies to provide the requested information. I think our nation is among the best at protecting our privacy and civil liberties,” he opined.

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.”

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