The Cyber Edge

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December 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Army C5ISR Center employee Donovan Sweet conducts research for the C4ISR Modular Autonomy project at Camp Grayling, Michigan, in October. The Army wants to build a fast, agile and lethal Remote Combat Vehicle capable of avoiding electronic warfare and cyber attacks. Credit: Dan LaFontaine, Army public affairs official

The U.S. Army envisions future robotic vehicles that are easy for soldiers to operate while proving difficult for enemy forces to detect, jam or hack. Researchers at one of the service’s premier research and development centers are racing to build the sensors, communications links and software needed to make that vision a reality.

December 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Undersea fiber constitutes the backbone of international e-commerce for the world’s richest nations. However, issues regarding territorial access and oversight remain unresolved. Credit: Shutterstock/Christoph Burgstedt

Fiber is booming as telecommunications customers seek more services both in the cloud and at the network’s edge. The most important part of society’s information infrastructure, it is relatively secure in the face of attempts to wreak devastating harm to the nation, experts say. But that security is not absolute, and potential vulnerabilities could open up optical fiber to damaging attacks. Damage to this infrastructure, which serves as the backbone of the Internet and all the e-commerce that travels over it, could bring about an unprecedented economic upheaval.

November 26, 2019
By George I. Seffers
A new report developed under a joint program between the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Homeland Security Department develops a draft framework for organizations to assess the threat of unintended consequences in the cyber realm. Credit: issaro prakalung/Shutterstock

A new report on the commoditization of cyber weapons suggests that the easy availability of inexpensive offensive cyber tools is reshaping the cyber threat landscape. The report is being briefed to officials across the federal government, including elements of the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI, Senate Cyber Caucus and the Secret Service.

December 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Positioning, navigation and timing is critical to an array of critical infrastructure areas, including the electrical power grid, finance and transportation. The U.S. government is working to harden so-called PNT systems against jamming, spoofing and other vulnerabilities, in part by developing a resiliency framework. Credit: Shutterstock/NicoElNino

Over the next year, U.S. government officials intend to develop an initial conformance framework to ultimately improve resilience for systems that provide positioning, navigation and timing for a wide variety of users. That initial framework will focus on timing, and lessons learned will be used to develop more comprehensive versions.

December 1, 2019
 
At the Cyber Education, Research, and Training Symposium 2019, Brig. Gen. Dennis A. Crall, USMC, (now a Maj. Gen.) principal deputy cyber adviser, Office of the Secretary of Defense, said warfighter education and training must focus on mission preparation.

The top five U.S. cybersecurity workforce positions in demand today are information systems security developer, information systems security manager, systems developer, research and development specialist, and software developer. To fill these posts, entry-level positions must be developed in the areas of systems administrators, network operations and cyber operator specialists. All of this demand requires a steady supply of training.

November 18, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The data captured from lightning strikes around the world may help to secure the U.S. electrical grid from cyber attacks. Credit: Vasin Lee/Shutterstock

Monitoring global lightning strikes could help detect cyber attacks on the U.S. electrical grid, according to Georgia Institute of Technology researchers who have a patent pending to do just that.

Lightning strikes roughly 3.5 million times per day on average. Each and every strike creates an electrical path miles tall that emits a very low frequency radio signal. Those signals bounce off the upper atmosphere and can be detected virtually anywhere in the world, explains Morris Cohen, an associate professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

November 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II jets fire flares while breaking away after aerial refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker of the 340th Expeditionary Aerial Refueling Squadron out of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in August. In multidomain operations in the future, the Air Force will need a highly connected web of sensors across the air, land, sea and space.  U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Keifer Bowes

As the U.S. Air Force is working to define operations on the battlefield of the future, sensors or other digitally connected devices will play a key role—as they always have—but on a much larger scale, one expert says. For the military, the world of Internet of Things, or IoT, has to work across the air, land, space and sea domains. And for the Air Force to enable a greater sensor-based environment, it has to tackle data platforms, cloud storage and capabilities, communication infrastructure and its network, says Lauren Knausenberger, the Air Force’s chief transformation officer.

October 30, 2019
By George I. Seffers
DISA’s Cloud Based Internet Isolation prototyping initiative eliminates potential threats from unclassified networks by showing Internet browsers a movie-like representation of the the websites they view. The agency plans to select one of two prototypes in the spring. Credit: Alexander Supertramp/Shutterstock

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Cloud Based Internet Isolation prototyping effort is already eliminating cyber threats every day, says Angela Landress, who manages the program commonly known as CBII.

The program uses a little technological sleight of hand to keep non-secure Internet browsing in the secure Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud rather than on the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN). “What comes back from the cloud is actually just a video-like representation of the webpage. There’s nothing executable in it,” Landress explains.

November 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Green Beret forces train for multidomain operations in a joint exercise with the U.S. Air Force. Adapting technologies and capabilities from the Internet of Things (IoT) may hold the key toward achieving vital capabilities for Army multidomain warfighters.  U.S. Army

The U.S. Army is looking toward the Internet of Things to reshape the future force for multidomain operations. Faced with the challenge of networking vast amounts of diverse sensors, the service views this type of networking as the solution to greater efficiency combined with increased capability.

Bruce D. Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, emphasizes the importance of the Internet of Things (IoT) approach across the service. “The IoT has the potential to greatly improve and economize the way we will operate as an Army in the future,” he declares.

November 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
U.S. Air Force Airmen prepare an F-22 Raptor for takeoff at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, in September. The Air Combat Command is taking steps to ready the Air Force for multidomain operations.  U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe

On the battlefield of the future, warfighters will need to be extraordinarily interconnected to weapon systems in the air, sea, space, land and digital realms. To support operations across these multiple domains, warfighters will have to rely on advanced command and control capabilities and vigorously employ cyber defenses to its weapons and systems.

November 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The 348th Engineer Battalion prepares for mobilization at the Total Force Training Center, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, in late May. Experts share that sensors and other Internet of Things devices will be able to be placed everywhere—in concrete, glass or fabrics, for example. Credit: Russell Gamache

As the number of electronic devices connected to the Internet grows, so does the security risk and the chance of data exfiltration by adversaries. Warfighters’ use of Internet of Things devices makes the military increasingly vulnerable, experts say. In addition, as the concentration of smart sensors and connected tools widens, the military may not be able to conduct unexpected operations.

November 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA (Ret.)
The multidomain operations concept envisions future wars being executed extremely fast and incorporating a great deal of automation and networking to connect sensors to warfighters across all domains—land, air, sea, space and cyber. Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

My columns so far have centered on various components of modernization and innovation that I think are needed for the U.S. military to reposition itself for success on future battlefields. Emerging technologies, culture, workforce, partnerships—all play critical roles and must be recalibrated for a future that will be increasingly complex and dynamic.

As the Defense Department moves to embrace more innovation, it will change the way our future wars will be fought. Defense planners already are working to understand this in detail, and the vision they have devised is called multidomain operations (MDO).

October 29, 2019
By Rod Musser
Recent events indicate the government is serious about enforcing supply chain cybersecurity. Credit: Kalabi Yau/Shutterstock

Supply chain security has been of concern to government leaders for decades, but with attacks now originating in industrial control systems (ICS) from supply chain vulnerabilities and with an increasing reliance on the Internet of Things (IoT), Congress is stepping up its involvement. For example, legislators have promised that more stringent standards will soon be enforced.

October 30, 2019
By George I. Seffers
DISA is beginning to implement plans to build a common network infrastructure for 14 defense agencies known as the “fourth estate.” The effort could save hundreds of millions of dollars over the long term. Credit: ktsdesign/Shutterstock

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has begun the implementation phase for the Fourth Estate Network Optimization Initiative and will now begin building the network for 14 defense agencies. The endeavor will standardize equipment, enhance cybersecurity, improve interoperability and save significant money, DISA officials say.

October 2, 2019
Posted by George I. Seffers
The NSA's new Cybersecurity Directorate will initially focus on securing weapon systems and the defense industrial base. Credit: Shutterstock/honglouwawa

The National Security Agency (NSA) has created a new Cybersecurity Directorate as a recognition that “the best defense against devastating cyber attacks is to unify as a nation against our threats,” the agency has announced.

October 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
A soldier reacts to a mock opposition forces attack during training at Fort Irwin, California, in June. Cybersecurity projects within the Office of the Chief Information Officer/G-6 will improve cybersecurity for tactical systems. Credit: Air National Guard Master Sgt. Joshua Allmaras​

Cyber policy traditionally has focused more on enterprise networks than tactical systems, according to Nancy Kreidler, the Army’s new leader for the Cybersecurity and Information Assurance Directorate within the Office of the Chief Information Officer/G-6. But new initiatives emphasize cybersecurity in the tactical environment, including networks, weaponry and any other systems used by warfighters.

October 1, 2019
By Katherine Gronberg
This generator produces power for all of the facilities on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. It enables the depot to continue operations while completely disconnected from the normal commercial utility grid. Credit: Lance Cpl. Ryan Hageali, USMC

The U.S. arsenal boasts diverse weapons that share a common cybersecurity challenge: They depend on power generated by U.S. Defense Department or civilian-owned infrastructures that are increasingly vulnerable to cyber attack. Disrupting the availability of these power systems could impact not only the United States’ ability to project U.S. military power globally but also to respond to a domestic attack.

October 1, 2019
By Cadet Dalton Burk, USMA
Sgt.1st Class Joshua Shirey, USA, maintenance instructor for the Army’s new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, teaches a class about suspension to 33 soldiers enrolled in the first-ever iteration of the course at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The 96-hour Field-Level Maintenance New Equipment Training course involves classroom and hands-on training for soldiers and contractors. Credit: Staff Sgt. Brigitte Morgan, USAR

Leaders in multiple military organizations need increased awareness of the dangers that arise from the systems used daily in training, deployment and garrison environments. The attacks these settings face are becoming more advanced and more specific as cyber attackers’ capabilities continue to improve. To mitigate the potential risk to military systems, the networks’ individual components must be identified and understood particularly at a time when component parts are manufactured outside the United States.

October 1, 2019
By John Nix
The first week of Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy (FCRA) coursework takes place at U.S. Department of Education headquarters, where students are immersed in the SANS CyberStart Essentials course. Credit: Denis Largeron

A new federal cyber academy aims to help relieve the shortage in skilled cyber workers. The inaugural Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy graduating class demonstrates that individuals with high aptitude and motivation can be successful in technical training and can gain the skills needed to enter the national cybersecurity workforce.

October 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The Air Force’s Air Combat Command, newly in charge of the service’s Cyber Mission, is deploying specialized mission defense teams to protect particular weapon systems such as an F-22, pictured flying over Alaska during an exercise in May, or an F-35 or a key infrastructure component such as an air operations center. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony

On top of other defenses, the U.S. Air Force is turning to a persistent cybersecurity model to guard its major weapon systems. Led by the Air Combat Command, which took on the service’s Cyber Mission from the Air Force Space Command last year, the service’s integration of cybersecurity includes deploying protective crews to its key airborne platforms and infrastructure.

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