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September 2013

Information Age Leadership Requires a New Type of Boldness

September 1, 2013
By Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN

 

Bureaucracies are slow to change, and few may be more anemic than the military services. With a foundational and personnel structure optimized for the Cold War and the industrial age, this unfortunate reality is acutely evident as the information age accelerates into ever more complex manifestations.

While some leadership principles remain constant regardless of the era, quite a few must be adapted to the realities of their time. Some of the characteristics already have defined, and will continue to define, effective 21st century military leadership.

One such characteristic is the ability to look outside traditional vertical hierarchies. The world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and relational networks are being fostered from Internet-based social networks that span ages and ranks. Technology is replacing itself at an increasing rate, so traditional definitions of expertise that rely on seniority are less relevant.

Very often, younger generations have a better ability to interact with technology than their more experienced senior leadership. These digital natives often will recognize capabilities and new avenues of application more quickly than their older leaders. However, traditional hierarchical structures with numerous levels of interference between the deckplate operator and senior decision maker stifle solutions that could transform an operation.

More than ever, senior commanders need to embrace crowdsourcing options and direct engagement with creative, entrepreneurial, lower-level subordinates. This could be accomplished by establishing command innovation cells characterized by open dialogue with no fear of reprisal, followed by action taken on recommendations. These are great ways to empower more junior personnel to take ownership and make an impact.

Government Seeks New Identity Markers

September 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

 

In the next few years, usernames and passwords could gradually fade from popular use as a way to conduct business online. A public/private coalition is working on a new policy and technical framework for identity authentication that could make online transactions less dependent on these increasingly compromised identity management tools. A second round of federal grants from the group, expected this fall, will lead to continued work on what is expected to become a private sector-operated identity management industry.

“The fact is that the username and password are fundamentally broken, both from a security standpoint as well as a usability standpoint,” says Jeremy Grant, senior executive adviser for identity management with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the Department of Commerce. As a result of such security weakness, cybercrime is costing individuals and businesses billions of dollars every year. An estimated 11.7 million Americans were victims of identity theft of some kind, including online identity theft over a recent two-year period, according to NIST, the federal agency tasked with setting cybersecurity standards.

Eyeing Next-Generation Biometrics

September 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The FBI is on schedule to finish implementing next-generation biometric capabilities, including palm, iris and face recognition, in the summer of next year. New technology processes data more rapidly, provides more accurate information and improves criminal identification and crime-solving abilities.

Identity Technology Breakthroughs Impact National Security

September 1, 2013
BY Rita Boland

Scientists are enabling DNA analysis to function as a virtual sketch artist to figure out who people are and what they look like even in situations with no eyewitnesses. The developments have particular application to counterterrorism but could affect a wider array of fields as well. Even more importantly, the personnel are developing bioinformatic software solutions databases to manage quick interpretation of data for usability.

Transforming NATO's Information Technology Architecture

September 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

 

NATO officials are laying the groundwork for a centralized enterprise networking architecture with invitations to bid expected to be released by year’s end. The new approach is expected to offer a number of benefits, including cost savings, improved network reliability, enhanced cybersecurity and greater flexibility for warfighters.

Officials at the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency kicked off the alliancewide effort in August of last year shortly after the agency was created. The initial goal was simply to examine the alliance’s information technology infrastructure, how it could be modernized, where efficiencies could be gained and how to make the business case for modernization. The NCI Agency partnered with the Network Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) for the study. “We didn’t want to take just an academic view or an internal belly-button look. We wanted to get industry involved and find out what is within the realm of possibility today,” says Peter Lenk, chief, Capability Area Team Seven, NCI Agency.

The result will be a historical transition for the alliance. “We are for the first time, or one of the first times in NATO, looking at things as an enterprise. We’re starting to try to consolidate things across traditional boundaries,” Lenk says. “Through the creation of the NCI Agency, which has a mandate across all of the components of NATO, now we have within our grasp the ability to do this, and we can clearly see the advantages.”

Closing the Door on 
Iris Recognition Vulnerabilities

September 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

A simple capability found in most cameras may enable security experts to counter efforts by terrorists and other security threats to spoof iris recognition systems. The new approach focuses on eye function in addition to appearance, thus unmasking several types of deception that either would conceal a real iris or would fool a detection system into false acceptance.

Iris recognition employs near-infrared or visible light scanning to record the pattern in an individual’s iris, which barring injury remains largely unchanged in a person from the age of 9 months. Near-infrared scanners reveal texture, and visible light shows pigmentation. Iris recognition systems can be used as security devices that admit only people whose iris patterns are cleared for access in a database, or they can be used to identify terrorists or other criminals who have been scanned and whose patterns already are on file.

However, these detection systems can be fooled by covering or altering the appearance of the iris. Criminals who want to avoid detection can wear a cover that conceals their incriminating iris. Similarly, someone who wants to impersonate a cleared individual at a security checkpoint can wear a fake iris that portrays the pattern on the original trusted individual.

The new counter to these and other types of iris recognition spoofing comes from one of the men who shares the patent for the original technique. Dr. Leonard Flom, principal investigator of biometrics and assistant clinical professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the New York University School of Medicine, developed iris recognition in 1987 with the late Dr. Aran Safir.

Flom describes five ways of spoofing iris recognition. The first way is to dilate a pupil to the maximum extent possible. This way, the iris pattern is not recognized by a scanner.

Portugal's Navy Faces Double-Edged Challenge

September 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

The economic and technological challenges facing Western militaries are magnified for Portugal as it tries to ensure the viability of its navy. The small maritime nation that regularly participates in NATO naval operations is facing severe budgetary constraints as its domestic economy contracts, but it must improve and even increase its capabilities as a result of a growing mission set.

The first challenge facing the Portuguese navy is to meet its obligations amid the severe fiscal crisis gripping most of the Western world. Portugal has been hit hard by austerity measures amid high unemployment, and the navy’s budget may not grow significantly for the foreseeable future. The Portuguese Defense Ministry has stated the defense budget will remain at about 1.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) through 2020, but that GDP has been contracting since late 2010.

The second major challenge for the navy is to address the country’s new geopolitical makeup at sea. Portugal has applied for exclusive economic zone continental shelf status beyond the traditional 200 miles to encompass the Azores and Madeira, which are Portuguese territory. This would link and extend the three separate economic zones into a larger single zone. The result would be a much larger maritime area of about 3.8 million square kilometers (2.4 million square miles) that would need protection by the Portuguese navy, especially with regard to ocean-based resources ranging from fishing stocks to potential oil deposits.

Adm. José Saldanha Lopes, PON, is the chief of the Portuguese Naval Staff. He is pursuing a plan for his successors that would ensure the viability of the navy through the year 2035. Technology, fleet transformation and a shift in funding priorities are at the heart of the thrust for an effective future navy without significant funding increases.

Telecommunications Leaves Mark on Afghanistan

September 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

A massive telecommunications infrastructure modernization effort in Afghanistan is designed to contribute to socioeconomic development; provide entry into the global information society; and support national prosperity, sustainability and stability. A key part of that effort is coming to fruition: officials with a telecommunications advisory group in that country expect the completion very soon—possibly this month—of a fiber-optic ring around the nation’s perimeter.

Army Signal Expands Its Reach

September 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Army Signal Corps is expanding the work its personnel conduct while dealing with technology and operational challenges that both help and hinder its efforts. On the surface, Army signal is facing the common dilemma afflicting many other military specialties—it must do more with fewer resources.

Defining 
Spatial 
Privacy

September 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

 

The exponential expansion of geolocation technology throughout all levels of society is presenting a range of challenges for policy makers eager to take advantage of the benefits while protecting personal privacy. Unfortunately, much of the discussion surrounding the challenges is fragmented or lacking in authority.

The Centre for Spatial Law and Policy aims to change all that by representing legal considerations within the geospatial community. Kevin Pomfret, executive director of the center, served as a satellite imagery analyst for the government for six years before attending law school. During his studies, he remained interested in remote sensing and representing clients in that area. The field is fraught with potential because of the many issues surrounding geolocation especially. People increasingly are using the technology for a variety of applications, meaning legal and policy concerns will grow in number over concerns such as privacy, data ownership, data quality and national security. “I started to attend trade shows and saw there weren’t any lawyers there, which was unusual,” Pomfret explains.

When he realized the community was underserved from a legal standpoint, he set out to educate its members on concerns that do and will impact them legally. The center he established also aims to give stakeholders a seat at the table as laws and policies are developed as well as to educate policy makers.

Policy making often involves weighing risk against benefit. Unfortunately, many of the people in a position to make decisions lack the background to fully understand the value of spatial data. By connecting them to the experts in related industries, awareness of the important facets grow.

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