SIGNAL Online Exclusives

November 7, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, USA, DISA director, addresses an AFCEA chapter event. Gen. Lynn and other DISA officials provided a forecast of contracting opportunities to industry on November 6.

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is touting the potential benefits of light fidelity (Li-Fi) technology, a form of wireless, light-based communications. Li-Fi is expected to be more resistant to electronic signature detectors and therefore, less susceptible to electronic warfare techniques.

Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, USA, the DISA director, stressed the need for the technology during the agency’s November 6 forecast to industry.

He also emphasized the need for software-defined networking, which Gen. Lynn said is inexpensive and versatile. He described a scenario in which warfighters will be able to hop from one network to the next, similar to radios that hop from one frequency to another.

May 4, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division conduct fast rope insertion extraction techniques with their Marine Corps and Air Force counterparts. Elements of the 25th participated in the Army’s recent Cyber Blitz exercise, which will help define the future of cyber and spectrum warfare.

The U.S. Army last week completed an exercise designed to further define how the service adapts operationally to modern threats, including cyber attacks and electromagnetic warfare. During the exercise, the Army tested the cyber-electromagnetic activities (CEMA) cell concept within a brigade combat team and introduced new, yet-to-be-fielded technologies.

March 16, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Lockheed Martin’s ATHENA laser weapon system defeats a truck target by disabling the engine, demonstrating its military effectiveness against enemy ground vehicles.

Each of the U.S. military services and the Special Operations Command plan to field laser weapons in the coming years. But Lockheed Martin officials say they could deliver now a 30-kilowatt weapon system—powerful enough to bore a hole in a steel plate within seconds—if the military asks.

January 25, 2015
By George I. Seffers

MITRE Corporation officials say they expect a rush of proposals in the final days of the non-profit organization’s Countering Unauthorized Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Challenge. The deadline for submitting white papers is February 7.

January 14, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Antonio Doss (l), district director of the SBA’s Washington Metropolitan Area District Office, talks about a major rule change during AFCEA's Small Business Committee meeting.

A Small Business Administration (SBA) venture slated to kick off this summer could bring about substantial changes for all small businesses as the agency establishes a governmentwide mentor-protege program. 

SBA officials are putting the finishing touches on rule changes that essentially would clone the agency’s 8(a) Business Development mentor-protege program and offer it to the rest of the nation’s small businesses, said Antonio Doss, district director of the SBA’s Washington Metropolitan Area District Office.

November 3, 2015
By George I. Seffers

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) seeks to use big data analytics to enhance network situational awareness while automating as many cybersecurity capabilities as possible, officials said during the agency’s November 2 forecast to industry in Washington, D.C.

October 29, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Adm. Michael Rogers, USN, director of the NSA and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, warns of an increase in number and sophistication of cyber attacks during Thursday's SAP NS2 Solution Summit.

Securing the cyberspace will get worse before it gets any better, warned Adm. Michael Rogers, USN, director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and commander of U.S. Cyber Command.

“The very technical foundation of the world we’ve created with the Internet of Things is going to exacerbate [security vulnerabilities], not make it easier,” he said. Now, it’s not that the Internet of Things is bad, he pointed out. “As a private citizen, I love the convenience. But I also acknowledge it brings inherent challenges when we’re trying to defend something.”

September 23, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded nearly $3.7 million for three pilot projects that seek to fortify online financial transactions and enhance privacy protections for health care, government services, transportation and the Internet of Things.

The studies, awarded by the agency's National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) office, address specific cyber-based missions such as reducing tax refund theft, ensuring better protections of medical information, devising mobile ticketing solutions for use on mass transit and providing secure online data storage, according the agency.

October 13, 2015
By George I. Seffers

This blog is a followup to an article in the October issue of SIGNAL Magazine, Operation Cooperation: U.S. Defense Officials Intend to Expand Asia-Pacific Partnerships.

Although tighter budgets motivate governments to cooperate on technology development, sequestration and the budget uncertainties in the United States have negatively impacted international partnerships, says Keith Webster, director of international cooperation, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

September 14, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The ease at which criminals can reverse engineer software makes for lucrative transgressions with national security implications, prompting government-backed researchers to seek innovations to shore up vulnerabilities, officials say.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, turned to academia and awarded a multiyear mission to develop obfuscation technology to better safeguard software intellectual property, both for commercial and government endeavors. The aim of DARPA’s SafeWare program is to find a solution that would render the software, such as proprietary algorithms, incomprehensible to a reverse engineer.

September 10, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
©Axstokes/Shutterstock.com/NIST

The U.S. government wants in on the resurgence of developments in contactless biometric technology, seeing smart applications of such devices in places such as airport security. But before device deployment, officials need to make sure the scanners and sensors actually do what they say they do—safely and accurately.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working with a handful of private companies to develop data format standards, best practices and methods for certification testing on new products before any can be used.

September 3, 2015
By George I. Seffers
Helicopters drop water and fire retardant on a fire near the Mexican border. AUDREY will provide tailored information to firefighters, whether in the air or on the ground.

Researchers are linking together the power of the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing to create a personal assistant to provide total situational awareness to first responders. The advanced program is wise enough to provide only the information necessary for each user, smart enough to ask questions and versatile enough for virtually anyone to use, including firefighters, warfighters, factory workers and home owners.

If all goes well, the system is set to begin prototype testing within the next 16 months, and an initial capability could be fielded soon.

September 2, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

Ransomware soared as the preferred malware of cybercriminals, with the number of new samples rising 58 percent over the second quarter of this year, and a whopping 127 percent over this time last year, according to a new analysis by Intel Security.

The firm released a retrospective report five years after acquiring McAfee. Its researchers compared what they thought would happen beginning in 2010 to what actually happened with hardware and software security threats, noting the boom in the number of devices connected to the Internet and a general lack of cyberhygiene contributed to the increase of malware intrusions and ransomware attacks.

August 13, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Marines conduct civil-military operations and collect, process, analyze and share information using software from a smartphone.

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.

July 14, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

Most of the Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN) has received a major upgrade, providing U.S. military researchers with access to an unprecedented fast fiber optic network connecting five supercomputing centers at speeds 16 times faster than present rates.

June 24, 2015
By George I. Seffers
NSA officials intend to increase open source software releases through GitHub.

The National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) recently established GitHub presence could become a focal point for releasing new technologies into the open source community. Sharing software could benefit the nation’s cybersecurity while also benefiting businesses and economic growth, officials say.

June 19, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Speaking at Federal Forum 2015, Federal CIO Tony Scott says cybersecurity is the nation's 'most important mission.'

In what has become one of the White House’s highest priorities, the federal government is forming digital services teams to address the mounting number of cybersecurity breaches threatening the nation’s security and coffers, according to government’s top chief information officer (CIO).

The nascent teams, eventually residing within each of the federal agencies, will seek solutions to combat cyber vulnerabilities and rely heavily on the private sector for answers, Federal CIO Tony Scott told an audience at the Brocade-sponsored Federal Forum in Washington, D.C. “This is our most important mission today.”

June 8, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
DSCOVR orbits the sun at a location called the Lagrange point 1, or L1. Credit: NOAA

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite today reached its orbit position 1 million miles from Earth, little more than 100 days after its winter launch. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite will become the first operational spacecraft in deep space to provide constant weather analysis.

DSCOVR will replace NASA’s aged Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), launched in 1997 and operating a decade past its design life, and is expected to begin operations later this summer. 

May 14, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. government is just as vulnerable to cyberthreats—if not more so—compared to two years ago, according to a new survey of federal information security professionals. Nearly half of approximately 1,800 respondents indicated that security has not improved in the federal space; while another 17 percent stated their organization’s security posture is actually worse off, primarily due to an inability to keep pace with threats, a poor understanding of risk management, inadequate funding and not enough qualified professionals.

May 7, 2015
By George I. Seffers
A prototype device known as FINDER detected heartbeats in the rubble of Nepal, leading to the rescue of four men.

The Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) device lived up to its name in Nepal, detecting signs of life that led to the rescue of four men trapped under as much as 10 feet of bricks, mud and other debris following the devastating April 25 earthquake in the area.

FINDER, developed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), uses microwave-radar technology to detect heartbeats of victims trapped in wreckage. Jim Lux, JPL’s FINDER task manager, credits luck, but it took quick thinking and rapid coordination to ensure FINDER was in the right place at the right time to be helpful.

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