Ushering in full-blown mobility for the U.S. Defense Department will require key technology advances, particularly in areas of automation and security management. With mobile no longer a fringe idea, troops want to avail themselves of all the bells, whistles and efficiencies the ecosystem has to offer. But security concerns continue to crimp the department’s migration to what is otherwise commonplace in the private sector, experts shared Wednesday during the day-long AFCEA DC Chapter Mobile Tech Summit.
The Internet of Things has gone mainstream. Home refrigerators are chattier than ever, and emerging virtual home assistants can order wings for dinner, turn on lawn sprinklers, start the car and purchase pounds of cookies—all without users ever rising from the couch. Yet behind the headlines of these gee-whiz cyber technologies lurks a shortcoming. It is one that poses significant threats to national security but could be remedied fairly easily, some experts offer.
The federal budget crunch has amplified bureaucratic appeals to private businesses to develop solutions that will streamline and modernize government agencies, especially the massive U.S. Defense Department.
This was the message delivered Thursday at the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA’s) highly anticipated annual forecast to industry event.
The agency showcased several acquisition and procurement plans that will shape the future of the Defense Department, which aims to embrace technological developments such as commercial cloud services, mobility and the Internet of Things, officials shared.
A cluster of macrotechnologies offers the potential for a new wave of innovation that revolutionizes all aspects of government, military and civilian life. Many of these technologies are familiar, and their effects are well-known. What may not be common knowledge is that the more these technologies advance, the more their synergies increase.
One of the biggest advances in the near future likely will be the convergence of major military networks into one unified Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN), predicts Ronald Pontius, deputy to the commanding general, U.S. Army Cyber Command and Second Army. And that network will be operated and maintained by Signal Corps soldiers.
Despite all of the talk of cyber technology safeguards being built in versus bolted on, security remains an afterthought for a vast majority of digital transformation activities such as mobility, cloud services and the Internet of Things, according to a recent industry survey.
Coming on the heels of Virginia's big push to reduce the number of commuters last week on area roads with Virginia Telework Week, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is updating guidance to include the latest technology available to strengthen remote-access data security, especially as the number of teleworkers trends upward.
The U.S. government and industry are at a critical juncture in the development of the much-anticipated fifth generation, or 5G, mobile networks slated for rollout in five years and are presented with opportunities to work in tandem to build in security measures to protect the whole of communication networks, said Rear Adm. David Simpson, USN Ret., chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission.
Mobile is the way of the future for the Defense Department, and commercial technologies will play a defining role. And, as with any networked systems, security is key. Yet building security into commercial mobile devices presents a host of challenges, according to a panel of government and industry officials directly involved with this technology thrust.
Remember this scene from The Graduate?
Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Turns out, plastics was pretty hot. Great tip, Mr. McGuire. I wonder what, if anything, Benjamin did with that tip. More importantly, what is the one word for today?
I think I have it. The word is Cambric. Cambric the finely woven linen? No, CAMBRIC the finely woven acronym:
Mobility plays a salient role as the U.S. Army refashions itself into a leaner, more expeditionary force. In a few short years, military commanders will direct entire battles with mere finger swipes on handheld tablets or even smaller devices. From their palms, warrior leaders will know the precise positions of ground forces, air assets, unmanned sensors, medics and more—all part of a concept in motion to modernize the service over the next decade and beyond.
U.S. Navy leaders are embracing more than technology advances in mobility as they seek to bridge the divide between the military and private industry. A major philosophical change is sweeping through the sea service as leaders strive to follow industry’s lead, adopting not only technology but also business acumen.
“Here’s the bumper sticker: access to information anytime, anyplace, from any device,” says Dan DelGrosso, the technical director in the Navy’s Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS).
A comprehensive U.S. Army research program pursues a greater fundamental understanding of how networks function. The program’s intent is to expand knowledge, paving the way for new mobile ad hoc protocols and improving the service’s ability to deliver information to decision makers on and off the battlefield.
One ring to rule them all,
One ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all,
And in the darkness bind them. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
If you are not a fan of The Lord of the Rings, the executive summary is that you can simplify life and improve security for derived credentials if you only distribute one authorized credential, used by a thin client to access a centralized virtual operating system that holds all the other keys. For those with an appetite for a mystical romp through Middle Earth involving magical keys and rings, I suggest you place your tongue firmly in cheek and proceed.
The Defense Department’s much-anticipated capability solution to access classified voice and email up to the secret level from mobile devices finally migrated from the pilot stage and now is operational within the department and several federal agencies, says Kimberly Rice, program manger for the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA's) Mobility Program Management Office.
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) today announced a $2.9 million cybersecurity mobile app security research and development award that will help identify mobile app vulnerabilities. The Northern Virginia-based small business, Kryptowire, was awarded a 30-month contract through the S&T’s Long Range Broad Agency Announcement.
As the Defense Department dives into the mobility ecosystem and embraces the use of mobile devices by the warfighter in the battlefield up to the highest echelons of leadership, it seeks solutions too for full-on mobility at the enterprise level. Leaders still struggle over concerns from security vulnerabilities to the legal questions that impact employees workload when they’re off the clock.
“You’re going to see a lot of headlines here that say ‘secure mobility.’ Blank that out,” said Terry Halvorsen, the Defense Department’s chief information officer. “I want you to insert the words ‘secure enough mobility.’ Part of what we’ve got to understand is: what’s secure enough?”
The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is helping lead the charge to bring more mobility, cloud computing and information sharing to the Defense Department. Sweeping changes ahead aim to make secure and nonsecure communications possible down to the handheld level. In this month's issue of SIGNAL Magazine, Technology Editor George I.