April 2001
By Maryann Lawlor

Industry giants engage in information operations.

The military is not the only entity that knows information is a powerful weapon. Companies that both develop and depend on communications technologies now recognize that strength increases with numbers and cooperation benefits individual firms and protects overall economic growth. Despite the competitive nature of commerce, information operations have moved from the public to the private sector.

Apri 2001
By Henry S. Kenyon

Advanced cryptographic program increases security and flexibility.

The U.S. government is poised to adopt a new encryption standard that will replace existing ciphers used in secure, nonsecret communications. The algorithm is compatible across a variety of software and hardware applications and in limited-memory environments such as smart cards.

Advances in computer technology have made older cryptographic systems vulnerable to cracking. Ciphers with relatively short key lengths can now be compromised through brute-force computing. Researchers are preparing modern algorithms with greater key lengths and increased security to thwart such attacks.

June 2001
By Henry S. Kenyon

Intelligent security device reinforces network defense.

Smart hardware will allow administrators to foil intruders and internal attackers before they can cripple computer systems. The firewall, embedded within a network interface card, creates a tamper-resistant security layer that cannot be subverted or deactivated like traditional software-based defenses. When installed on desktop computers and servers throughout an organization, the cards selectively permit or deny certain types of activities at the department, office or individual levels.

July 2001
By Henry S. Kenyon

Intelligent agents ease user’s job, speed responses to cyberattacks.

A security management system allows administrators to track computer network threats by providing near-real-time alerts from remote sensors on the network. Software agents, tailored to be expert monitors of specific programs and devices, use rules sets to sift through data before sending reports to a central management engine that tracks and correlates the information. Thousands of potential alerts then are analyzed and reduced to one or two dozen incidents that require immediate attention.

August 2001
By Maryann Lawlor

Virtual organizations offer technology professionals opportunity to re-serve in a new way.

The U.S. Defense Department is moving ahead with plans to engage Reserve forces further to protect and defend military information systems. The approach takes advantage of available expertise by making it easier for civilian information assurance specialists to put their skills to work for the military.

August 2001
By Maj. David P. Biros, USAF, and Capt. Todd Eppich, USAF

Approach keeps analysts in the information security loop.

The U.S. Air Force is researching an information assurance system that incorporates the human factor into protecting data. The system would help analysts charged with monitoring networks identify potential breaches more easily by removing clutter and presenting them with a clear assessment of the danger level.

August 2001
By Henry S. Kenyon

Advanced identification technologies studied, cataloged and deployed to services.

The U.S. Defense Department has established a facility to evaluate and integrate biometric identification systems for military and federal agencies. Charged with multiple responsibilities, this center also serves as a place where government, academia and industry can share their expertise and knowledge.

August 2001
By Clarence A. Robinson, Jr.

U.S. Space Command’s Joint Task Force-Computer Network Operations unit directs attack and defense.

Protecting warfighting information technology systems requires the same situational awareness for networks that battlefield commanders rely on to maneuver forces to outflank and engage an enemy at maximum effective range. Without a near-real-time picture of the U.S. Defense Department’s Global Information Grid, the bubble could burst, leaving in question warfighter network defenses.

August 2001
By Robert K. Ackerman

Trade-offs characterize security solutions in the dynamic networked era.

Balancing function against security may prove to be the tightrope act that determines the future of information assurance. Government and commercial experts are weighing the convenience and capabilities of new technologies against their vulnerability to the burgeoning threat from all corners of cyberspace.

November 2004
By Henry S. Kenyon

Researchers hunt for weaknesses in large node-based systems.

U.S. government computer scientists are studying how computer grids react to volatile conditions to understand how events such as virus attacks, sudden changes in workload and cyberattacks can affect linked groups of hundreds or thousands of geographically dispersed machines.

September 2001
By Maryann Lawlor

Government agencies view confidentiality as a top priority, but caution is still warranted.

When the framers of the U.S. Constitution outlined citizens’ rights, they could not have foreseen the birth of communications capabilities that would pervade both personal and professional life. Although the fourth amendment is very clear in its prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure, technology has blurred the line between what is considered public and private space. Privacy policy watchdog groups believe that the biggest challenge may be that technology seems to develop at the speed of light, while the legal protection of personal privacy moves at the speed of legislators.

October 2001
By Maryann Lawlor

Sound policies instill essential consumer confidence.

While various Internet consumer privacy protection bills steadily make their way through U.S. congressional committees, businesses are taking a stab at self-governance. The work is based on the premise that commercial relationships demand trust, and the best way to gain customers’ trust is to assure consumers that the information they provide, both automatically and intentionally, will not be shared without their permission. However, unless Web site visitors read published privacy policies, they may not be aware of how much of their personal data can be shared or sold.

October 2001
By Clarence A. Robinson Jr.

National Institute of Standards and Technology bolsters active content security, advanced encryption standard.

A fast-moving squad of government and industry computer security experts is preparing to swing into action. This computer-security-expert assist team is structured to support federal government agencies by providing ways to protect information technology systems and networks. The team’s core will be industry members who are proficient in identifying and alleviating complex information system and infrastructure vulnerabilities.

November 2001
By Maryan Lawlor

Legal issues include the law of unintended consequences.

It is hard to resist the Big Brother analogy to describe law enforcement agencies’ use of new technologies for catching lawbreakers. From thermal scanners that monitor the amount of heat emanating from a suspect’s house to hidden cameras that catch red-light runners to software that leads to the capture of cybercriminals, new capabilities have brought with them new privacy questions.

January 2002
By the SIGNAL Staff

Hardy threat analyses protect mission-essential foreign affairs networks.

The U.S. State Department is conducting “junkyard dog” network penetration tests and vulnerability assessments at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. Simultaneously, a network intrusion detection program will provide rapid warning of unauthorized access to the department’s far-flung sensitive information systems.

January 2002
By Henry S. Kenyon

Access control program manages user authorization, authentication on multiple platforms.

A software-based access control system offers administrators and planners a secure option for wireless and online communications. Capable of working with legacy technologies, the scalable program forms a layered defense against unauthorized entry or use of network components.

February 2002
By Henry S. Kenyon

Easy-to-use application analyzes site security, models threats.

A software analysis tool allows military and civilian managers of government facilities to evaluate vulnerability to terrorist attacks quickly. Now being installed at all U.S. military installations, the program calculates the risks that a variety of extremist organizations pose to a base or building, taking into account known tactics, methods of attack, preferred weapons and capabilities. This data is converted into graphics and three-dimensional models that can be stored and incorporated into reports.

May 2002
By Henry S. Kenyon

Positive identification is more than just a friendly face.

A recently developed software application will allow organizations to design layered access systems that scan individuals to recognize facial features, voices and lip movement characteristics. The program permits the deployment of a variety of digital-camera-based devices in kiosks and stations or desktop and laptop computers to control and monitor admittance to secure areas, networks or individual pieces of equipment.

August 2002
By Maryann Lawlor

Software facilitates shielded collaboration between agencies.

Technology is now available that allows various organizations to share information from their databases without compromising their sources or individual agency policies. The software would enable national security and law enforcement groups to coordinate their efforts by facilitating the tracking of suspicious individuals and their activities.

September 2002
By Henry S. Kenyon

Method offers security without additional equipment costs.

A recently developed identification authentication system permits personnel to receive single-use passwords via wireless devices, allowing users who are traveling or at remote sites to access their networks. The technology is compatible with a variety of equipment that supports text messaging such as cellular telephones, pagers, personal digital assistants and laptop computers.