The time is quickly approaching when video analytics no longer will be an afterthought for supporting investigations or categorized as a nice-to-have. Brute force procedures traditionally used by law enforcement are not effective for handling massive amounts of video and images. In fact, the problem of daunting volumes of video handled by criminal justice organizations today is compounded by heightened public perception that digital evidence must be processed quickly, and increasingly, juries expect to see video presented during trials. Law enforcement executives jest that if a crime is not caught on video, as far as courts are concerned, it didn’t happen.
Over the past week, I have thought a lot about innovation. In part because I’m preparing for my upcoming panel discussion on innovation at the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence Summit next week, and in part because I’m troubled by the seemingly pervasive use of the word “innovation” as a solution to many of our intelligence collection and analysis challenges.
For now, the Iranian nuclear framework is just that—a midpoint in a process that will continue for several months. Already, however, we find apparent—and basic—disagreement between the principal negotiators on just what the framework is supposed to frame. Will sanctions be removed in their totality, on the completion of the accord? Or will they be removed incrementally as the inspection regime takes hold? And, for good measure, what about inspections of facilities collocated on military bases?
Almost four years ago, my company co-founder and I sat in a nondescript hotel in Maryland meeting with two senior technical executives from the National Security Agency (NSA) to discuss classified mobility. We initially focused on how to install a few specific apps onto classified phones, but as the meeting unfolded, it became obvious the government struggled with a broader challenge of securely managing all mobile apps across classified networks. In the news media, we read with interest about proposed options for the President’s next cellphone or devices used by the nation’s senior leadership. Despite all the commentary, very little of this speculation came to fruition.
It seems every week we read about a cyber breach that involves millions of records at risk of compromise. Why can’t the big boys get it right? After all, they have large information technology departments and many layers of protection. From the opposite perspective, what did you do today to protect personally identifiable information (PII)?
Do you have unique personal identification numbers (PINs) for all of your passwords? If you answered no, create a priority “to do” and investigate password vaults, accessible from your mobile devices and Web browser.
In December 2014, Stephen Hawking, the renowned theoretical physicist, warned the world that true artificial intelligence (AI) could mean the death of mankind. Well, that got my attention. His comments stirred up a maelstrom of support. Small wonder, but the AI argument has been ongoing since the late Isaac Asimov wrote the Foundation series.
Hawking’s statement did complement a blast by Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and a strong advocate of driverless cars, who two months prior at the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department's 2014 Centennial Symposium responded to the discussion about AI by saying, “With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon.”
Is the U.S. Defense Department moving back toward requiring cost and pricing data for commercial item purchases? A recent series of memoranda and experiences show a backward march toward the department requesting cost data as a means to justify fair and reasonable pricing for commercial item purchases.
Every now and then a poll result pops up that surprises me. Results sometimes are counter-intuitive, or at least counter-narrative from what we're led to believe in major media coverage.
Case in point: An early 2015 poll shows that after nearly two years of a negative spotlight on the U.S. intelligence community, and particularly on the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the American people still have a positive view of the NSA and CIA. More startlingly, young Americans have more favorable views of NSA and CIA than older Americans!
In a recent GovExec article, Kellie Lunney raised a few perspectives regarding the average age of senior executives in government today—it is the mid to late 50s—and the limited compensation flexibility. And I realized that ever since I entered the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service (DISES) in early 2004 and was involved in the vetting and filling of more than 40 SES positions, I have been deeply concerned about the ability of government to continuously attract, recruit and enable top talent of all ages, educational and experiential backgrounds.
Data center consolidation has been a priority for federal information technology teams since 2010 when the government launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI). The goal was to close or consolidate 40 percent of government data centers by 2015 to combat server sprawl, centralize and standardize storage, and streamline application management and establish shared services across multiple agencies.
The FDCCI has changed many things about how federal information technology (IT) is set up and created many challenges for federal IT professionals, including:
A year or two ago, I wrote an article proposing a Hart-Rudman Commission for the 21st Century, referring to a neglected effort from the 1990s to review America’s national security. (I’m happy to share the article, along with its rejection letters.) More recently I have advocated at several events for a strategic review of intelligence, more than a decade after the post-9/11 “reforms.” Its focus should be a study of the environments U.S. intelligence could face in 2030 or 2040. The consequences of such a study should be a rigorous evaluation of existing structures and processes, presumably reaffirming some while altering or eliminating others.
We all appreciate and value the opportunities to hear from government. The AFCEA Homeland Security Conference afforded industry and government officials alike the chance to talk and share ideas. One topic of conversation piqued my interest that I think will resonate with both industry and government.
Cyber attacks originate from the outside or the inside. Is there "low hanging fruit" that you can harvest to reduce an insider attack?
You can reduce the probability of an attack from a disgruntled employee by becoming more mindful of your command climate or employee attitudes and by making a commitment to spend more time with your employees/members of your command. Take an employee to lunch and learn about his or her world. Schedule a breakfast with a subordinate and listen to his or her concerns.
With fewer government workers and contractors attending conferences and events, companies that do decide to exhibit at a conference need to maximize their investments. Here are some tips to take advantage of, and capitalize on, the lead generation and thought leadership opportunities that exhibiting provides.
Several years back, my tech savvy college student son, Michael, was helping me to set up my new (at that time) iPhone 4. When he was done, he had downloaded several applications (apps) that he thought I would want to have such as BBC News, his Radford University app, Pandora, etc. But instead of being an appreciative mother, the paranoid career intelligence professional screamed inside: What did he put on my phone (that I use for work and my entire personal life)? I have no clue what these apps could do to the privacy and security of my data and all my communications.
While it has always been important to strive for interoperability among and across systems within the U.S. military branches and other Defense Department (DOD) agencies, the need now is more critical than ever for the oldest and largest government agency in the United States.
Why now? One primary driving force for a refocus on interoperability is the creation of the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). Formally established in May 2010, CYBERCOM’s focus, among other things, is to “lead day-to-day defense and protection of DOD information networks,” according to the agency’s mission statement.
The changing nature of threats and diversity of adversaries bring unique challenges to maintaining a strong national security posture. This trend will continue in 2015, as nation-states, extremist groups and individual actors bring a distinctive set of intelligence challenges. By making the best use of our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technological capabilities, coupled with innovative commercial information technology, we can equip our military leaders with an integrated ISR enterprise to evaluate and anticipate threats so they more fully and quickly understand proper courses of action, whether on a battlefield or at home.
Outside the world of government, video traffic is mostly about watching clips on YouTube and streaming a favorite Netflix series. Within the government, particularly the U.S. Defense Department, video traffic—more specifically videoconference calling—often is far more mission critical.
When a mission-critical application experiences an outage or severe performance degradation, the pressure on the agency and its information technology (IT) contractors to find and fix the problem quickly can be immense. Limited holistic visibility into the status of the underlying IT infrastructure in a high-stakes situation can result in interdepartmental finger-pointing and delay in resolution, so narrowing down the root cause of the problem wherever it exists within the application stack (appstack) and enabling the appropriate IT specialists to quickly address the underlying problem is essential.
Network modernization is becoming a priority for defense agencies—and for good reason. Much of our defense network infrastructure was conceived 20 years ago and put into place almost a decade ago.
While the networks remain the same, the technologies that depend on them have advanced, and innovation can no longer be supported by outdated and ineffective infrastructure. Near real-time access to data enabled by the latest technologies and Internet-connected sensors can improve situational awareness for warfighters. They also build the foundation for more advanced communication and intelligent tactical networks that are crucial to the missions of our military.