The Cyber Edge

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August 14, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division (LI) perform an air assault demonstration for President Trump during a visit to Fort Drum, New York, on August 13. The demonstration was part of the President’s ceremony to sign the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, which authorizes funding for U.S. defense and military activities for Fiscal Year 2019. Photo credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Thomas Scaggs.

The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA 2019), passed by Congress on August 1 and signed by President Trump yesterday, takes cybersecurity a step further, with language affirming DOD’s role in defending against attacks and operating in cyberspace, the fifth warfare domain.

Although past NDAA legislation has included some provisions on DOD’s cyber role, this year’s bill specifies that the Secretary of Defense has the authority to conduct military cyber activities or operations in cyberspace—including clandestine activities—to defend the United States and its allies.

August 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Credit: TheDigitalArtist/Pixaba

Millions of times every single day, antagonists search for entry into the U.S. Defense Department’s networks. They come from all over: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran. Some are sponsored by nation-states; others are terrorist groups.

August 9, 2018
By Jane Melia
Solving the key and policy management challenge may be the hardest part of an encryption deployment. Credit: Tumisu/Pixabay

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget released a report this spring showing the abysmal state of cybersecurity in the federal government. Three-quarters of the agencies assessed were found to be “at risk” or “at high risk,” highlighting the need for a cyber overhaul. The report also noted that many agencies lacked “standardized cybersecurity processes and IT capabilities,” which affected their ability to “gain visibility and effectively combat threats.” 

August 1, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Army paratrooper communicates by radio during a drop in Latvia. Traditional radio and network status information will play a key role in cyber situational awareness in the digital battlespace. Credit: Army photography by Spec. Dustin Biven, USA

The U.S. Army Cyber Command’s successful consolidation of capabilities from cyber, intelligence, electronic warfare and signal forces may be the deciding factor in whether sophisticated adversaries prevail in the future battlespace, says Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, USA, leader of the command.

August 1, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Shutterstock imagery by Pavel Chagochkin

Medical technologies such as electronic devices implanted or injected into the human body are the next growth area for hackers pursuing money or control of individual people. With nanotechnology implants already being used for some medical treatments, advances in their application could pose as great a cybersecurity threat as what faces the Internet of Things, experts say.

August 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Army combat units on the move need different networking capabilities from support units that set up camp and stay awhile. Service officials intend to develop a modernized network capable of being scaled and adapted depending on the operational situation. Credit: Spc. Hubert D. Delany III, USA

The U.S. Army’s major overhaul of its network may lead to a communications structure capable of conforming to an array of operational situations, including the possibility of providing offensive cyber and electronic warfare capabilities.

July 24, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Now an NSA hacker, Army Specialist Alexander Woody made a major career change similar to the one his mother made shortly after his birth. Credit: alan9187/Pixabay

When Alexander Woody was born, his mother knew she needed to forge a new path career-wise. She enrolled in an associate's degree program at her local community college and studied computer programming.

“She hit that program really hard back in the '90s and was able to succeed,” says Woody, who is now an Army specialist working as a counter pursuit operator within the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center.

Spc. Woody ended up with the NSA after finding himself also at a career crossroad. He studied chemistry at North Carolina State University and sometimes tutors high school students struggling with chemistry. But he realized it wasn’t the right career choice for him.

July 11, 2018
By John Kupcinski
Cyber threat intelligence may be helpful in countering government fraud, waste and abuse. Credit: Shutterstock

Fraud, waste, and abuse (FWA) remains a major challenge to the federal government. From 2012 to 2016, the 73 federal inspectors general (IGs), who are on the frontline of fighting FWA, identified $173 billion in potential savings and reported $88 billion in investigative recoveries and 36,000 successful prosecutions and civil actions.

July 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Zapp2Photo/Shutterstock

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is working to improve the resiliency of smartphones and other mobile technologies through directed research and development initiatives. Not as secure as office computers, mobile devices are becoming the preferred target for malicious actions by cyber adversaries. In many cases, smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices simply do not have the same protections available for more traditional computing technologies, experts say. The level of attacks also is moving “deeper down the mobile device stack,” from the application and mobile operating system layers to the hardware and infrastructure layers, according to the department.

July 3, 2018
By Bob Nilsson
Government network automation paves the way for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Credit: Shutterstock

It has become increasingly evident that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are poised to impact government technology. Just last year, the General Services Administration launched programs to enable federal adoption of AI, and the White House encouraged federal agencies to explore all of the possibilities AI could offer. The benefits are substantial, but before the federal government can fully take advantage of advancements like AI, federal agencies must prepare their IT infrastructure to securely handle the additional bandwidth.

July 1, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
A mobile intensive care unit paramedic communicates using a land mobile radio. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working with the full spectrum of emergency responders to improve communications interoperability during disaster events.

Just as methodical programs to improve emergency communications interoperability are building up speed, new technologies threaten to derail the entire effort. Emergency responders find that new mobile systems bring valuable capabilities, such as enhanced data access, and they embrace these technologies eagerly. But the advanced communications systems often do not mesh with each other as well as traditional broadband radio links, and their innovative approaches pose new challenges.

July 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
The KC-135 Stratotanker was originally used to support bombers of the Strategic Air Command. The midair refueling capabilities of the KC-135 allow fighters to spend hours instead of minutes on the front lines. The Stratotanker is one of the first weapon systems to be evaluated for cyber resiliency under the Air Force’s new methodology. Credit: Air Force

The U.S. Air Force is developing a methodology for assessing the cyber resiliency of weapon systems and examining how to standardize that methodology across the service. The effort could improve the security of hundreds of weapon systems, including aerial refueling planes, fighter jets and inertial navigation systems.

July 1, 2018
By Justin Sherman and Inés Jordan-Zoob
The Uran-9 unmanned ground combat vehicle took part in the 2018 Moscow Victory Day Parade on Red Square earlier this year. Credit: Dianov Boris/Shutterstock.com

The cyber realm has redefined the meaning of warfare itself. Conflict in cyberspace is constant, low-cost and uninhibited by traditional definitions of territory and country. Now, governments, militaries and private research groups from America to South Korea are taking cyber capabilities one step further, using developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning to create autonomous weapons that will soon be deployed into battle.

Machine learning already has been used in both cyber and kinetic weapons, from autonomously firing gun turrets to human-superior social engineering attacks. While these advances are noteworthy, these machines are neither entirely intelligent nor autonomous.

July 1, 2018
By Margaret S. Marangione
The millennial generation came of age when the ability to share information via technology was just beginning. Without guidelines, many began to share everything without regard of the consequences to themselves or others. Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

The recent dissemination of classified information through media outlets and social media indicate that contemporary insider threat management has entered a new phase. Unlike previous generations that adhered to a strict code of silence, some millennials in charge of keeping U.S. secrets safe have the urge to share information they deem the public has the right to know. Rather than going through official channels to reveal actions they believe are wrong, people like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Reality Winner leak classified material through media and are just the first indication of information management processes that must change with the times.

July 1, 2018
By Maj. Gen. Jim Keffer, USAF (Ret.), Col. David Hathaway, USAF (Ret.), and Lt. Col. David Weissmiller, USAF (Ret.)
Rear Adm. Timothy White, USN, commander, Cyber National Mission Force, U.S. Cyber Command, shares feedback with students attending the Joint Cyber Analysis course at the Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC), Corry Station, Pensacola, Florida. The Unified Platform will assist members of all services in securing networks by enabling cyber warriors to prosecute full-spectrum cyberspace operations. Credit: Glenn Sircy/Center for Information Warfare Training Public Affairs

The U.S. Defense Department is leaning forward by investing in capabilities that equip U.S. cyber forces with a warfighting platform to achieve, maintain and defend cyberspace superiority. The Unified Platform will be critical to realizing U.S. Cyber Command’s vision to maneuver globally and seamlessly between defense and offense across the cyberspace domain and defend far forward into an adversary’s cyber space.

June 29, 2018
By Paul Parker
Edge computing and the Internet of Things have the potential to enhance government agility and efficiency. Shutterstock

Wary that the Internet of Things (IoT) could be used to introduce unwanted and unchecked security risks into government networks, senators last year created a piece of legislation that placed minimum security standards around IoT devices sold to and purchased by government agencies.  The IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017 specifically cites the need for regulation of “federal procurement of connected devices,” including edge computing devices, which are part of the IoT ecosystem.

June 27, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, alongside Iraqi security forces, fire artillery at known Islamic State of Iraq and Syria locations near the Iraqi-Syrian border. The annual Cyber Quest experiment, which focused this year on cyber situational understanding, is designed to evaluate prototypical technologies and deliver systems to warfighters sooner. Army photo by Spc. Anthony Zendejas IV

U.S. Army officials conducting the third annual Cyber Quest experiment, which ends today, will issue a report in about 30 days that will determine which of the systems involved will transfer to programs of record. The exercise consists of an array of systems, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, that help provide situational understanding of the cyber and electronic warfare realms.

June 26, 2018
By Jesse Price
As cyber attacks increase, the combination of big data capabilities and network analytics will allow network monitoring agents to shift from defense to offense. Credit: Shutterstock

Traffic on optical transport networks is growing exponentially, leaving cyber intelligence agencies in charge of monitoring these networks with the unenviable task of trying to sift through ever-increasing amounts of data to search for cyber threats. However, new technologies capable of filtering exploding volumes of real-time traffic are being embedded within emerging network monitoring applications supporting big data and analytics capabilities.

June 20, 2018
By Jane Melia
Cybersecurity trends so far this year include a stern reminder that the threat of nation-sponsored cyber attacks cannot be ignored. Credit: TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay

With the arrival of June, we’re at the halfway point of an already busy year for the cybersecurity industry. With each passing year, our sector continues to demonstrate its evolving approach to fighting cyber threats, as cyber crime itself continues to evolve.

As both business and government move forward with digital transformation initiatives to improve processes and efficiency, the overall security attack surface continues to expand with more potential points of access for criminals to exploit. However, our industry is tackling these challenges head-on, with numerous innovative solutions continuing to come to market.

June 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers

When National Science Foundation officials announced in February that three major providers of cloud computing were donating up to $9 million collectively for big data research, they already were looking for ways to broaden the effort to include a wider variety of topics, including cybersecurity. The expansion is intended to benefit both research and education initiatives and is necessary, in part, because the cloud providers now acquire cutting-edge hardware before it is made available to researchers.

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