The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recently joined with a coalition of private-sector partners from the telecommunications industry to expand the Warriors 4 Wireless pilot program, a new nonprofit effort aimed at connecting veterans and returning service members to jobs in the rapidly growing wireless telecommunications industry. The program is designed to help address the shortage of skilled jobs for returning veterans while satisfying the wireless industry’s immediate need for skilled employees.
A recent survey of government employees reveals that federal agencies benefit financially from the flexibility mobile devices afford the work force. Responses from more than 200 federal employees at the management level indicate that 81 percent connect to work remotely at least once a week, 54 percent connect at least once a day and 45 percent connect several times a day. Respondents estimate that, in addition to their full-time work schedule, they spend more than another full workday—nine hours—each week checking their mobile devices for messages and email.
10th Mountain Division U.S. Army Rangers and soldiers on the battlefield are now wearing commercial smartphones to communicate with each other and higher commands. Nett Warrior is a Samsung Galaxy Note II with its commercial memory wiped clean and Army-developed software loaded. It displays the locations of fellow soldiers, allows placement of location digital chem-light markers, and enables warfighters to communicate through texting. This information is then relayed to commanders over encrypted tactical radios.
DISA’s Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization awarded a firm fixed price contract for the Mobile Device Management (MDM) system and Mobile Application Store (MAS) to Digital Management Inc. (DMI) of Bethesda, Md., Thursday for an initial award amount of $2.9 million, with four six-month option periods for a total lifecycle amount of nearly $16 million. The base period of performance for this contract is July 9, 2013 to July 8, 2014.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released the most comprehensive update to the government’s computer security guide since 2005. The fourth revision of “Security and Privacy Controls for Federal information Systems and Organizations” (SP 800-53) addresses issues such as mobile and cloud computing, applications security, supply chain risks and privacy concerns. It also calls for maintaining routine best practices to reduce information security risks while applying state-of-the-practice architecture and engineering principles to minimize the impact of threats such as cyber attacks.
The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) began working on its Yourcloud solution about two years ago and expects to have the cloud computing solution in place by year's end. You can read more about this in "U.S. Nuclear Agency Enhances Cybersecurity With Cloud Computing ."
Despite continued budget crunching, U.S. Defense Department officials are continuing to implement a three-phase plan to equip the department’s 600,000 mobile-device users with secure classified and protected unclassified mobile solutions that leverage commercial products. In conjunction with the Defense Information Systems Agency, the department’s chief information officer is establishing a basic multivendor mobility capability with the Defense Department for assessment. This first phase, which continues through April, deploys voice and data services over a commercial wireless network, and a contract will be awarded for the department’s initial enterprise mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application store (MAS).
Following the lead set by NASA, the Department of Veterans Affairs and several other federal agencies, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has posted a solicitation for an enterprisewide Mobile Device Management system and Mobile Application Store (MDM-MAS). As many as 260,000 devices could reach authorized security resources and data initially through the DISA app store, which could eventually expand to support the needs of the entire Defense Department.
The U.S. Defense Department must move to a single identity management system, the department's chief information officer said today at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Mission Partner Conference. Teri Takai stated that enterprise email is a driver of that system but acknowledged that the bigger concern is the identity management rather than whether all the military services embrace the email migration. Despite arguments among members of a military chief information officer panel earlier in the day, Takai said she is glad the discussion came up because people need to understand that finding the right solution for identity management is difficult.
From circuit-switched networks (CSN), to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), to Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE), technology has reached the point where it is now feasible to secure mobile communications. Only recent mobile devices-witness the iPhone-can keep up with security demands required for secure communications. The National Security Agency (NSA) is developing a midterm pilot program aiming for the end goal of a mobile platform developed using only commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components.
The effort to field mobile devices down to the squad level continues as the U.S. Defense Department certifies security credentials for the iPhone and Android operating systems. However, the arduous accreditation process still poses many hurdles for the military as it moves toward a more mobile communications environment.
The U.S. government is adopting changes to the cloud computing certification program that will better protect against potential insider threats. The improvements include additional penetration testing, more thorough testing of mobile devices, tighter controls over systems being carried from a facility and more stringent scrutiny of systems connecting from outside the network.
U.S. Defense Department and interagency special operators are scheduled to begin receiving new tactical mesh networking equipment this month. The kit provides a mobile, ad hoc, self-healing network that offers a full range of situational awareness data, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance feeds, blue force tracking and a voice over Internet protocol capability.
The widespread use of mobile devices on the battlefield, which may have seemed an improbability just a few years ago, may become an actuality within the next few. A recently released strategy document supports that pending reality, which is expected to increase situational awareness, improve operational effectiveness and enhance the operational advantage for U.S. forces.
“I don’t think it’s going to be 10 or 15 years before these devices are going to be the preponderance of what we see on the battlefield. We’re probably three to four years away from that,” says John Hickey, Defense Department mobility portfolio manager, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).
U.K. government entities at various levels are looking into bring-your-own-device policies for their purposes. And while their mandates differ, they all have one factor in common—a need for the right level of security. To help groups at the most open classification levels make the right choices, a U.K. security agency has released a series of guidance documents that outlines what decision makers should consider.
The jury is still out in the corporate world as to whether the bring-your-own-device trend will gain a permanent foothold. While the movement creates security worries and extra work for information technology employees, it presents a few perks corporate leaders are reluctant to turn down: cost savings and increased employee productivity. Efforts for full implementation for both businesses and government entities are stymied much more by policy than by technology, or the lack thereof, experts say. While some technological shortcomings create some security risk, viable solutions are on the horizon.
A new mobile operations fusion kit that provides easy, rapid and on-the-go interoperability for mobile field operations and communications piqued the interest recently of the U.S. Marine Corps’ research and development community. It was impressed by the technology that proved successful in interoperability testing in June. Known as Operations Fusion Kit 2.0, the unit is a multimedia communications system bundled into a compact, lightweight, waterproof, ruggedized Pelican carrying case that enables secure voice, full-motion video and information sharing on a global, real-time basis.
The U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Lab this week wrapped up an Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) in the jungles of Hawaii, which tested a total of 16 systems including unmanned ground vehicles. The experiment was part of the July 9 -14 Rim of the Pacific exercise and could help determine how future Marine forces will fight and which technologies they will use.
The experiment included Marines aboard Navy ships as well as three company landing teams, a relatively new organization construct for the service. The company landing teams are altered rifle companies and represent a different approach to the Battalion Landing Team.
The U.S. Army’s current tactical network delivers a wide range of capabilities for warfighters, including unprecedented communications on the move. But the complexity can overwhelm commanders who have countless critical tasks to complete and soldiers’ lives in their hands. Future tactical networks will automate many processes and may be smart enough to advise commanders, similar to JARVIS, Iron Man’s computerized assistant.
The complexities of the U.S. Army’s networks and spectrum allocation processes interfere with the need to reassign units to different tasks, creating major delays and presenting serious challenges. To solve the issue, researchers intend to deliver a wide range of technologies, including automated spectrum planning and allocation tools and smarter radios, that will use spectrum more efficiently, network more effectively and provide commanders the flexibility to reorganize as needed.