SIGNALScape

U.S. Military Moving Toward Joint Information Environment

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers
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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
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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
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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.

Government Coping With New Round of Cyber Attacks

June 25, 2013
George I. Seffers
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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.

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