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Event Coverage

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.

Defense Department Reworking Cyber Strategy

June 25, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Cyber Symposium 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 1

Maj. Gen. John Davis, USA, senior military advisor for cyber to the U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, set the tone at the 2013 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium, Baltimore, when he told the crowd that his position—which was just approved last August—indicates how seriously senior leaders view the cyber arena to be.

Speakers across the spectrum highlighted the U.S. government’s growing dependence on computer networks and the need to keep those systems secure, even though the vast majority of systems are owned by the private sector. They also emphasized the growing, ever-evolving threat and offered a number of solutions to help tackle the issue.

“In an environment of reduced resources, that the department thought it was worth it to put a general officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy is an indication how serious senior department leaders are taking this particular subject,” Gen. Davis stated. He quoted a number of high-level officials, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his successor Chuck Hagel, both of whom have repeatedly warned of the potential dangers of the cyber threat. “Senior leaders in the department and beyond the department understand that cyber is a problem and cyber is important. They’ve made cyber a priority, and there’s a sense of urgency,” he said.

The general launched an in-depth discussion of the Defense Department’s strategy for operating in cyber space, which he indicated is already outdated. The “thin” little document has been guiding the department for two years. And it’s two years old. "What’s two years in cyber years? They’re kinda like dog years. This is like 20 years old as fast as the cyber domain evolves and changes,” he said. “So, as you might imagine, we are already working on the next version of this and what it will do to drive the department forward for the next several years.”

Government Coping With New Round of Cyber Attacks

June 25, 2013
George I. Seffers

U.S. government officials are traveling the country warning companies about a new round of cyberattacks that have targeted 27 companies, compromised seven and may ultimately affect up to 600 asset owners, according to Neil Hershfield, deputy director, control systems security program (CSSP), Industrial Control Systems-Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), Homeland Security Department.

Hershfield made the comments while taking part in a critical infrastructure protection panel discussion as part of the July 25-27 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium, Baltimore.

“The reason we’re out and about across the country is that we’re seeing a new adversary taking a new approach—rather than spearphishing, they are going after vulnerabilities with [structured query language] injections, and they’re then trying to get across the networks as fast as they can as broadly as they can,” Hershfeld reported. “We’ve been working with our intelligence community partners on this and we’re now going around the country letting people know about it. We basically do this jointly with the FBI, with field offices across the country. When we’re done, we’ll probably talk to 500-600 asset owners.”

Getting the word out is crucial because “the mitigation strategy here for this kind of exploit is significantly different than what you might use in other cases,” he added.

Hershfield is part of an industrial control systems working group, a public-private partnership that is co-led by one person from the private sector and another from the government sector. The group typically meets in-person twice a year, sharing information between the public and private sectors.

United States to Continue Cyber Dialogue With China in July

June 25, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The United States will continue to develop a bilateral relationship with China regarding cybersecurity issues. In fact, the two countries will meet again in Washington, D.C., on July 8th, according to Maj. Gen. John Davis, USA, senior military advisor to the undersecretary of defense—policy for cyber, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Gen. Davis, the luncheon keynote speaker on the first day of the July 24-27 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore, said the United States recognizes China as a rising power and a major voice in the cyber arena.

High-ranking officials from State Department, Defense Department and other agencies, have been engaged in bilateral, multi-lateral and international forums such as the United Nations and NATO. “As an example, of a critical bilateral relationship, I had the great honor to travel to China twice in the last year and engage as part of a collective U.S. academic and government interagency forum with counterpart Chinese academic and government organizations,” Gen. Davis said.

“U.S. senior government officials across the agencies have been actively engaging their Chinese government counterparts, including the People’s Liberation Army, in a number of ways already, and we would like to see those engagements expand,” Gen. Davis reported. “I had the opportunity to personally encourage a more direct military-to-military relationship with China in a serious effort to help our two nation’s militaries better understand each other, to reduce misconceptions, to reduce misinterpretations and ultimately, to reduce the chance of mistakes that can happen in cyberspace and perhaps spill over into the physical domains.”

Austerity Breeds Innovation

May 16, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

East: Joint Warfighting 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 3
East: Joint Warfighting 2013 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia, wrapped up today with discussions about the challenges in counterinsurgency wars, rapid acquisition and fiscal crisis.
Lt. Col. John A. Nagl, USA (Ret.), author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam, said that U.S. leaders turned away from the lessons that were learned in Vietnam when they began fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was not until Gen. David Patraeus, USA (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Central Command, took over the mission that progress started to be seen in the region. “We can’t afford to get it so far wrong again,” Col. Nagl stated.
 
While some success has been seen in Iraq in terms of stability, the same cannot be said about Afghanistan, he added. Absent American support, the country could still be overtaken by insurgents, and it is yet to be determined if Afghanistan will end up like the Vietnam War or be an “untidy” success like Iraq. “The best we can hope for is an age of unsatisfying wars,” the colonel noted. “Counterinsurgency wars are long and messy, but they are the most likely type of wars we’ll fight in the future.”
 
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, USA (Ret.), former U.S. Army chief information officer (G-6), led the final panel of the conference. The topic was one that has been hot for some time and is now coming to a boil in light of tightening budgets: acquisition. However, members of the panel did not so much discuss less money as they did an aspect of the issue that has been the focus of numerous panels: how to speed delivery of solutions to warfighters.
 

New Funding Rules Call for New Thinking

May 16, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Robert O. Work, former undersecretary of the Navy, and current chief executive officer, Center for a New American Security, spoke frankly about the state of the military’s financial circumstances and shared his opinion about the next steps. The final keynote speaker at East: Joint Warfighting 2013 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia, pointed out that this is not the first time the U.S. military has felt a budget crunch and the time for sounding the alarm has not yet arrived. Explaining that fiscal year 2013 is only the third year of a drawdown in funding, Work stated that the cuts have not yet bottomed out.

The most troubling issue may be that the bottom is not yet clearly apparent. However, Work predicted that tight budgets are likely to be around for the next four to nine years, unless something, such as another large national security threat, occurs to change it.

One difference between past and today’s budget cuts is the existence of the all-volunteer military. Personnel expenses are among the highest cost to the U.S. Defense Department. During the Vietnam era, troops were more than willing to leave the service when their military stint was up. However, today, the combination of more opportunities and the country’s economic crisis has resulted in service members who voluntarily joined the military staying in. To add to this conundrum, the department does not want to ask any of these talented, bright people to leave, so the cost of maintaining the military will remain high.

Attempting to balance the budget between what Congress is willing to approve and what the military needs to operate solely by implementing efficiencies “is a bunch of crap,” Work said. “It’s not as easy as people think.” Cutting procurement and research and development spending is the worst approach, he added, because these will only lead to larger expenditures in the future.

Transformation, Coalitions and Interoperability

May 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

 

 

 

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