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.
Managing the myriad programs designed to provide border security has proved challenging. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched a variety of technology efforts designed to enhance border security. Likewise, civilian firms are deeply involved with DHS in supporting these programs. Two panels running Wednesday examined the government and industry perspectives of coordinating border security. To adequately track the millions of people crossing U.S. borders every day, the DHS launched the US VISIT program. Initiated in 2004, the program logs and records the identities of foreign nationals entering the United States.
AFCEA's 9th Annual Homeland Security Conference kicked off yesterday morning with a panel session focused on cybersecurity issues. The panelists highlighted a variety of ongoing federal initiatives to defend the nation's critical infrastructure from cyberattacks and discussed some of the new threats developing in cyberspace. Representing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Bruce McConnell, counselor to the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Deputy Under Secretary, outlined several efforts being undertaken by the department.
"If one of those types of attacks were to occur anywhere in the United States, nowhere else has the assets we have that are well-trained and ready. But those are the ones you hope never happen. No matter how good we are, there is no good outcome."-Cathy L. Lanier, chief of police, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, D.C.
No, I'm not talking about the classic Marilyn Monroe film; I'm talking about AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference, going on this Wednesday and Thursday. The theme is "DHS: The 7-Year Itch-Renewing the Commitment." The event will cover such topics as cybersecurity, securing social media, transparency, identity management, information and intelligence sharing, and more. Speakers include Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and W. Ralph Basham.
Ingenious tools are being developed to make even jury-rig specialist Mac MacGyver of TV fame envious. These technologies may soon be in the hands of first responders, thanks to work being done at the DHS's Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA). The agency is pulling together the technology pieces-large and small-so responders are ready to roll when disasters strike.
A swash-buckling Johnny Depp may be what most think of when the word "pirate" is mentioned, but the problem is much more serious that anything Hollywood could portray. Today's WEST 2010 mid-day panel discussed just how critical this problem has become-especially off the coast of Somalia-and what is holding back solutions from being implemented. Moderator Dr. Virginia Lunsford did an excellent job of juggling as she encouraged each panel member-as well as audience members-to speak their minds about the problem. Perhaps the most candid member of the panel was Col. David W. Coffman, USMC, commander of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The DHS has instituted a new job application process for cybersecurity positions. The good news? It's free of KSAs. Right now the agency is hosting a virtual job fair for those interested. Applicants no longer have to worry about KSAs or a points system; they simply submit cover letters and résumés, which are reviewed by hiring managers. DHS officials will then contact candidates of interest to invite them to a private interview event.
Interested in applying to the DHS? Visit the Web site now.
The Honorable Michael Chertoff, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Defense, said that strategic convergence will distinguish the 21st from the 20th century in both threats and solutions. Speaking at the MILCOM 2009 luncheon today, Chertoff used the binary versus the quantum approach as an analogy to describe national security threats as well as the changes that must occur to deal with them. "In the 1990s, we had the tendency to view the world through a binary lens.
MILCOM 2009's first panelists spoke about the practical challenges of the convergence of communications capabilities. Representatives from U.S. government agencies as well as local law enforcement agreed that plans for emergencies and special security events must involve collaboration and preparation, but they also admitted that a plan is just that-a plan. Everyone involved in the command and control of these activities-from the cop on the beat to the person in charge-must be ready for the unexpected.
The U.S. Coast Guard is taking steps to enhance its command, control, intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities with new unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and network-centric systems for its ships. At a press briefing late last week, RAdm. Ronald J. Robago, USCG, the service's new assistant commandant for acquisitions, discussed steps being taken to evaluate and select a new shipboard UAS.
A major disaster recovery exercise is concluding today in Washington D.C. The week long event was held by AT&T to test, evaluate, refine and improve how the company restores communications in the wake of a natural or manmade disaster. The network disaster recovery (NDR) exercise filled the capitol's Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium with equipment trailers and personnel providing satellite and broadband fiber optic communications links.
The purpose of the attack is purely robbery, says a cyber expert, who has shared his McAfee report with government officials.
Resilience is more important than ever in the face of changes that are occurring throughout the government and range from responding to crises to working with small businesses. The indisputable largest development is the budget constraints originating in the federal government and trickling down to state and local governments as well as companies. But increased care in planning and a commitment to getting the job done in innovative ways meet these changes head on and not only will sustain organizations but in many cases will enable them to grow.
Chief information officers from throughout the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had words of advice for companies that want to do business with them at the DHS 2012 Information Technology Industry Day. Among the top topics were the need for agile acquisition and acquisition of agile products, the call for information about the return on investment on the products companies offer, and changes in procurement strategies that could have a huge effect on how the government and commercial sectors interact.