My hope is that the general public at last is beginning to develop a basic understanding of the vulnerabilities the nation faces in cybersecurity. My fear is that, while these vulnerabilities affect the public at large, this developing understanding has not yet integrated itself into the culture and broad practice of cybersecurity. People still tend to view cyber attacks and scams as isolated incidents with little impact. They don’t seem to grasp the pervasiveness of the threat and its accompanying short- and long-term consequences. The result is a continuation of a cavalier attitude toward cyber hygiene on the part of many individuals as well as government, industry and academia.
Today’s intelligence community is facing new challenges. That in and of itself is not new; the community has been evolving for decades. What is new is both the changing nature of the threat and the approach that must be taken to meet it.
At the top of everyone’s solution list is information sharing. As intelligence information is collected, it must be shared among agencies, civilian government organizations, including the law enforcement community, and international partners. And, this information must be accurate and effective, not merely comprehensive.
The topic of critical infrastructure protection has been around for decades. In May 1998, President Bill Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive (PDD)-63 on the subject of critical infrastructure protection. This represented a decision formally recognizing that key elements of our national infrastructure were critical to national security, the economic vibrancy of the United States and the general well-being of our citizenry. The PDD further highlighted the necessary actions to preserve and ensure the continuity of these critical infrastructures. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W.
The United States acknowledged a long-evolving trend when it initiated the strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. For many years we have needed to place increased emphasis on that vast and dynamic area, and the rebalance has set a course for that important goal. But we are in danger of losing the benefits of the pivot to the Pacific in several ways.
The U.S. military, which has been deployed to defend the nation’s interests for the past 13 years, is facing a new round of cuts, restructuring, refitting and new technology acquisitions. Tactical information technologies, in particular, are on the cusp of upgrades. But the approaches that have worked in the past no longer will work, and the failure to adapt to change could be devastating for the force.
Despite the various associated national security and economic issues emerging worldwide, this can be a time of opportunity. Major challenges often compel bold steps and creative thought, which is why opportunity defines our future. The key is to identify and focus on shaping the appropriate future opportunities. For AFCEA, opportunities abound! AFCEA remains totally dedicated to increasing knowledge through the exploration of issues relevant to its members in information technology, communications and electronics for the defense, homeland security and intelligence communities.
Virtualization and cloud implementation are critical components of information technology planning, acquisition and management going forward. Cloud implementations are important to security, efficiency, effectiveness, cost savings and more pervasive information sharing, particularly among enterprises. Cloud architectures also are extremely important for more effective use of mobile technologies. Mobility increasingly is important, particularly for the military, which needs a full range of information technology services while on the move. Yet increased movement to the cloud, along with traditional uses of spectrum, are putting unprecedented demands on every part of the spectrum.
The world may be more dangerous today than in any period in history. Threats are widespread and diverse. It no longer is enough to watch nation-states. In this period of asymmetric warfare, with the addition of the cyberthreat, almost anyone can become a threat to national security. In this dangerous world, the value of intelligence has risen, and the tools and means of intelligence must be richer than in the past.
Anyone following the progress of the Joint Information Environment (JIE) knows by now that it is not a program of record. No one will see large procurements to provide the JIE. It definitely is a framework: it defines standards and architectures for consistency across the defense environment. It defines a core environment and interfaces for the connection of networks and systems to the core. The JIE leverages initiatives to consolidate networks and data centers, to establish enterprise services and to implement transitional technologies such as cloud implementations, mobility, security solutions, big data and analytics, and the Internet of everything.
Open source intelligence, which is gained from the public domain, is certainly not new. Intelligence professionals have used open sources as long as intelligence has been gathered and utilized. So what is different today? Why is open source intelligence (OSINT) getting more attention and the commitment of more resources?
First, the volume of available open source information has increased dramatically as technology has made the creation and dissemination of content easier. The Internet is the source of much of this growth. Traditional newspapers have been digitized all over the globe.
Even though the Cold War has ended and the monolithic threat against the West has disappeared, the relationship between Europe and the United States remains vital. Europe includes some of the United States’ strongest coalition partners and alliances; the two economies are closely tied and interdependent; and defense and security in Europe are evolving rapidly, just as in the United States. AFCEA chapters and members outside the United States number the greatest in Europe.
This rarely happens, but for 2014, defense and technology analysts are in agreement that big data and cybersecurity are the two drivers in planning and investment for information technology, both in government and in industry. Most everything else will be enabling these two key capabilities. While much attention has been focused on the threats and work being done globally on cybersecurity, I want to focus on big data.
Naval forces represent the ultimate projection capability for the United States. This important capability creates some unique requirements and constraints in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to the Navy and Marine Corps. The expeditionary nature of these forces drives two distinctive aspects of naval ISR.
First, naval forces must take much of their ISR capability, particularly real-time, with them. Distances and the lack of afloat infrastructure cause virtually all but space-based assets to travel with each expeditionary force. This includes airborne platforms, other sensors and processing resources. Ground-based resources can be accessed only when in port or during some littoral operations.
In the most recent U.S. defense guidance of January 2012, signed for emphasis by both the president and the secretary of defense, cyber was one of the few areas that received both emphasis and increased funding—no small feat in the current budget environment. Part of that emphasis and increased funding goes to the intelligence community to support the cyber domain. Such support requires an expansion of the intelligence mission set, new processes and tools, and new interfaces to the operational community now emerging to command and control the cyber domain.
Do you ever find yourself trying to reconcile with your environment? That is where I am now with regard to national security and reaction to leaks and programs designed to protect against terrorist threats.
In 2010, Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks organization got themselves on the world stage by publishing large volumes of classified documents, many provided by Pfc. Bradley Manning, USA, an intelligence analyst. At that time, and since, both Assange and Manning have been held up as villains by some and as heroes and whistle-blowers by others.
This time it is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that has demonstrated bad judgment and lack of a full understanding of the rules governing large meetings. The revelation of extravagant IRS spending on meetings follows similar issues with the General Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This waste shines a light on bad judgment for sure—but it also reveals a larger problem. For the most part, government personnel who are planning and coordinating government-run events do not do this as their primary function. They do not run events often enough to fully understand the travel and conference policies or the ethics and gift regulations.
Those of us who have been involved with government information technology (IT) for some time clearly remember the many efforts to improve IT acquisition. All certainly remember Vivek Kundra’s IT Management Reform Program, the 25-point plan. Most would agree that progress has been made, but some would argue—correctly I believe—that work remains to be done.
Homeland Security and the global effort against terrorism are incredibly complex activities. The organizations and individuals are just as complex. The homeland security establishment in the United States—as the collection of government agencies at the federal, state, local and tribal levels and the affected industries are referred to—numbers in the thousands of entities. There are 22 agencies in the Department of Homeland Security along with numerous others at the federal level, including the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the intelligence community and many others.
When you travel, as we all do, how many paper books, magazines and newspapers do you see on the plane or train these days? If your experience is like mine, the answer is, “not many.” Those few publications that are not available in digital form give you no other option, but many people now are opting for digital formats they can use on their mobile device of choice. Personally, I love my iPad and my iPhone, and I read everything I can on those two devices. I take them everywhere. If the FAA would stop requiring me to turn them off for the first and last 10 minutes of every flight, I could eliminate paper entirely.
In our professional lives, most of us have not seen an economic environment or a budget climate such as those we face today. We are approaching the ramp-down of the longest period of continuous conflict in U.S. and allied history. Technology is changing at an unprecedented pace, and to help address budget declines, we are relying on some of these technological advances—enterprise networking and service approaches, cloud computing, data center consolidation, more effective cybersecurity and better use of mobility solutions. The U.S. defense strategy is changing with a rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.