Although not claiming victory, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made some serious headway in improving cybersecurity, according to panelists discussing the topic at the DHS 2012 Information Technology Industry Day in Washington, D.C. Experts said the threats have not disappeared but rather have changed, and various DHS agencies have been learning how to better handle them. Alma Cole, chief systems security officer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, described today's cyberthreats in a way the other panelists agreed with.
Responding to an emergency is just as crucial-and as technically complicated as-preventing one. Members of the final panel for the DHS 2012 Information Technology Industry Day discussed the importance of communications capabilities to mitigate the effects of a manmade or natural disaster and restore normalcy to an area. Damon Penn, assistant administrator, National Continuity Programs Directorate , FEMA, related that restoring communications so that disaster victims can contact their families can help in two ways. First, family members can pick up victims and take them to a safer location.
Much like the three propeller blades on a wind turbine, three U.S. government agencies are spinning together a program to produce a microgrid that will provide power that is independent of external sources. The departments of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security want to enable military bases and other installations to continue operations in the event of power failure due to enemy actions or other events. A key element of this microgrid is network security, and it must be able to continue functions even in the face of cybermarauders, who could bring down an entire system.
Protecting any nation's citizens and institutions is difficult under any circumstances, but today's economic limitations make this task even more challenging. Government and business leaders will meet at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center February 28 to March 1 to tackle this topic during AFCEA International's 11th annual Homeland Security conference. Conference discussion topics include cloud computing, cyberwar, procurement, wireless broadband and social media. Small businesses' interaction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also will be explored.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have called upon industry to develop a low-cost and secure communications, network management and situational awareness system for the U.S. military, public safety agencies and commercial clients. The solution must enable remote and secure mission-based communications with or without cloud connectivity. The goal is to design a technology with both military and security applications that offers real-time information regardless of the infrastructure and equipment first responders or military members use.
Gnostech Incorporated, Warminster, Pennsylvania, is being awarded a $13,512,796 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide information assurance-related services in support of Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security programs. Support will include certification and accreditation documentation, security and certification test and evaluation, security control compliance evaluation, data recovery/prevention services, network security services, and information assurance planning and coordination. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, San Diego, California, is the contracting activity.
Situational awareness that borders on command and control (C2) may be necessary to protect vulnerable networks in the nation's critical infrastructure. The threat to these increasingly complex industrial control systems will require more than just commercial off-the-shelf security solutions, according to a panel of experts at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2011 in Honolulu. Rear Adm. Paul Becker, USN, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) J-2, warned that the proliferation of control systems, coupled with a lack of network situational awareness, are prime opportunities for cybermarauders.
Tasked with patrolling millions of square miles of water over vast ocean distances, the U.S. Coast Guard is looking to augment its surveillance forces with unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). These craft would serve to alert cutters to what lies over the distant ocean horizon. Rear Adm. Charles W. Ray, USCG, the commander of the 14th Coast Guard District, told the final breakfast audience at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2011 how the vast area of responsibility across the Pacific Ocean tasks Coast Guard operations. Many isolated islands and atolls are U.S. territory, and their fish-rich waters constitute more than a million square miles of U.S. exclusive economic zones.
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.