The new technologies that are enabling elements of the critical infrastructure to operate more efficiently also are making them more vulnerable to devastating cyberattacks. Advanced mobile connectivity and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems have created fertile ground for cybermarauders to target key aspects of the infrastructure a number of ways. These were the findings of a panel comprising a number of experts from Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2011 in Honolulu. Rear Adm. Paul Becker, USN, the PACOM J-2, described how the use of SCADA industrial control systems was a primary threat to the infrastructure.
Cybercrime legislation should be technology agnostic to ensure technological advances do not make the laws obsolete, says James A. Baker, deputy attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department. Baker testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a September 7 hearing on updating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to combat emerging cyberthreats.
A science-based software tool for the iPad allows first responders to learn from models of building damage and other conditions that occur after a disaster. Developed by Sandia National Laboratories, the Standard Unified Modeling, Mapping and Integration Toolkit (SUMMIT) enables firefighters, medics and police officers to visualize damaged buildings. The tool will allow them to tap into existing models that feature details of buildings, infrastructure and casualties. During exercises, it will visualize an integrated scenario and make it available to all participants in a master control cell.
Covia Labs Incorporated, Mountain View, California, recently announced that it has received a contract from the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate's Small Business Innovation Research program to research and develop public safety mobile broadband applications for mission critical voice communications. Under the contract, Covia will develop a plan and deliver software technology that leverages long-term evolution (LTE), existing communications systems, and Covia Labs' Connector interoperability platform to address these requirements.
The Air Force and Arlington County, Virginia, are taking preventative measures against hackers such as the ones that recently attacked Sony, costing them over $170 million. It's not just money at risk for government networks, however.
The Air Force has the lead for the Next Generation Airspace and lead for the Department of Defense. Arlington County, which collaborates extensively with the department on many levels, has undertaken continuous monitoring and risk analysis and is currently evaluating its supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.
Creating a deterrence strategy in cyberspace similar to the Cold War approach to nuclear weapons is a difficult proposition, according to Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, who commands U.S. Cyber Space Command and is director of the National Security Agency.
"There is no deterrence model out there analogous to what we had during the Cold War for nuclear détente. If you think about it, there are no rules of the road yet. There are no norms. We don't have all that figured out, so there is no deterrence strategy. In fact, I would posit that it is much more difficult to have a deterrent strategy in cyber space because all countries, nation states and non-nation states, can have these capabilities in cyberspace," says Alexander.
U.S. government agencies continue to expand their biometric identity management capabilities and their ability to share biometrics data among the various agencies and international partners, according to government officials speaking at AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.
As criminals turn to clandestine methods of entry into the United States, leaders in the maritime domain are working overtime to minimize threats by increasing data-sharing capabilities. And the effort to detect and deter these threats requires coordination between combatant commands, the services and the Defense Department's intelligence agencies.
The U.S. Coast Guard is facing the dilemma of its traditional threats combining to pose a synergistic danger to U.S. homeland security. Longtime menaces such as drug smuggling, alien immigration and terrorism may be merging their organizations and their tactics to pose an even greater threat to the nation. Stopping these threats will require data sharing and consolidation. Unfortunately, even organizations willing to share information often find legal and technological roadblocks in their way. Rear Adm. (S) Stephen Metruck, USCG, chief of staff, Eleventh Coast Guard District, told the Thursday breakfast audience at West 2011 in San Diego that the Coast Guard is striving to head off threats before they near the homeland.
Dynamics Research Corporation recently announced a four-year, $20 million contract award to support the enterprise architecture needs of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Chief Information Officer. Awarded through the General Services Administration Alliant contract, the work will modernize the department's information technology assets and architecture, providing for collaboration across divisions and centralizing the capture and management of enterprise knowledge. The work ensures that the department's investments are cost-effective and mission-focused and that its information technology programs and assets are well-managed to maximize their return on investment.
Lattice Incorporated recently announced that it has been awarded a prime contract by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop a demonstrable prototype device able to search for and identify bulk quantities of currency. The company has teamed with the University of Washington to research, design and develop a special-purpose concealed sensor platform specifically targeted to identifying large quantities of U.S. and Canadian concealed currency as well as Euros. In 2001, Congress criminalized the act of smuggling large amounts of cash as part of the U.S. Patriot Act.
A devastating terror attack that would cripple the United States could happen as soon as tomorrow. However, unlike the events of 9/11, this attack would take place in cyberspace and involve accounting figures, not any physical plant. That gloomy assessment was offered by Adm. Mike McConnell, USN (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former director of national intelligence (DNI). Giving the Wednesday plenary address at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010, Adm. McConnell shared with the audience how his concerns over the vulnerability of the banking sector date back to when he was named DNI by then-President George W. Bush. Putting the threat in perspective, Adm.
Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a potential $2.63 billion task order by the U.S. General Services Administration to install a campus-wide information technology infrastructure for secure communications and operations at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) St. Elizabeths headquarters in Washington, D.C. Northrop Grumman will design, install, test, operate and maintain a seamless, integrated and secure information technology solution throughout the DHS consolidated headquarters campus.
Booz Allen Hamilton, Incorporated, Herndon, Virginia, was awarded a nearly $24 million contract for biometrics, identity management, and homeland security technologies research and analysis for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic. 55th Contracting Squadran, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, is the contracting activity.
SRC Incorporated recently received a contract from the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS-ICE) agency with a potential value of nearly $42 million to establish and maintain a Security Operations Center to help protect critical information technology infrastructure. This contract will enable ICE to monitor its information technology assets 24 hours a day and evaluate and respond to cyber security threats. SRC will lead a team to provide innovative cybersecurity solutions, process improvement strategies and best-of-breed technologies for ICE.
Joint Warfighting Conference attendees enjoyed the rare opportunity to listen to the former leaders of homeland security and homeland defense in a roundtable discussion moderated by David Hartman, former host of Good Morning America. Hartman asked some of the pointed questions that were on many attendees' minds going from as far back as the institution of the PATRIOT Act through to cyberthreats. The Honorable Michael Chertoff, former DHS secretary, and Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Pacific Command, agreed that the increase of information sharing between agencies is by far the greatest tool the U.S. has to support homeland security and aid in homeland defense.
"Pushing the envelope" has meant many things over the years. Boundaries range from space, where a test pilot in a fighter jet first dared to reach beyond Earth's gravity, to the laboratory, where researchers have vied for critical scientific breakthroughs that change lives. But now that envelope has expanded to include the ethereal realm of cyberspace and cyberattacks, and with the expansion, the recognition that only together will the separate organizations succeed in overcoming threats. The new U.S. National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), under the DHS umbrella, aims at being the one-stop shop for monitoring and protecting U.S. cyber infrastructure and networks.
While many conferences suffer from waning interest as panel session after panel session and speaker after speaker present valuable information over two days, this year's AFCEA Homeland Security conference proved to be quite the opposite. The Thursday afternoon sessions were nearly as full as the presentations that took place on Wednesday, at least in part because of the last topic discussion: procurement.
The popularity and growth of social media networks and blogs offers federal agencies new tools to get their message to the nation's citizens. However, the openness of social media platforms also presents a security challenge. A panel of government and commercial media experts pondered the implications of widespread adoption of social media platforms at AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference. The U.S. military has recently adopted social networking as an extension of its public affairs activities. Col. Kevin V. Arata, USA, director of the Army Online and Social Media Division, explained that the service wanted to formalize how it approached social media.
Technology has had a significant impact in streamlining the work of Washington D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). This was the message conveyed by D.C. MPD Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier yesterday during a lunchtime address to the attendees at AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference. In her three-year tenure as police chief, Chief Lanier has worked to revamp what she described as an antiquated, paper-driven record-keeping and reporting system. She explained that when she became chief in 2007, all police reports were written by hand and hand-delivered by police officers across the department.