Five cyber technology firms will vie for top honors as a six-month series of shark tank competitions reaches its climax on February 27 in Arlington, Virginia. These efforts are part of an ongoing attempt by AFCEA to apply the principle of the popular venture capital television show to bring new technologies to the attention of government organizations seeking vital solutions. Following the cyber technology shark tank, AFCEA will host another shark tank at its Small Business Innovation Summit on May 1.
Mobile devices used by federal employees continue to be susceptible to malicious cyber attacks. Email accounts, stored documents, microphones and cameras on the devices still present avenues of entry for bad actors.
Complicating the matter are conflicting governmental compliance policies, misconceptions of security measures and naivety about the exact risks, a recent survey concluded. Many agencies are still ill equipped to handle these incidents. Moreover, even if policies are in place, employees do not always follow them, and intrusions still happen, according to the report, "Policies and Misconceptions: How Government Agencies are Handling Mobile Security in the Age of Breaches," prepared by San Francisco-based Lookout Inc.
Russia, Iran and North Korea are testing more aggressive cyber attacks against the United States and partner nations, according to the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community delivered to Congress today by Dan Coats, director of national intelligence.
“The use of cyber attacks as a foreign policy tool outside of military conflict has been mostly limited to sporadic lower-level attacks. Russia, Iran and North Korea, however, are testing more aggressive cyber attacks that pose growing threats to the United States and U.S. partners,” the report states.
Advances in automated cyber weapons are fueling the fires of war in cyberspace and enabling criminals and malicious nation-states to launch devastating attacks against thinly stretched human defenses. Allied forces must collaborate and deploy best-of-breed evaluation, validation and remediation technologies just to remain even in an escalating cyber arms race.
In the U.S. Cyber Command, the part of the cyber force that defends Defense Department networks, systems and vital information is fully up and running, the DOD reported.
The Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN) reached readiness after three years of building its capacity and capabilities to secure, operate and defend the DODIN, according to a DOD statement. To achieve full operational capability, JFHQ-DODIN participated in a number combatant command exercises and managed daily network operations to address and counter “significant” cyber threats, DOD said. The unit also deployed its six cyber protection teams to support high-priority military operations.
Although GPS-enabled activity-tracking applications like Strava may help warfighters keep fit, the applications may also reveal important information about military bases or soldier locations. One application revealed a concentration of U.S military personnel at a base overseas when shared as social media postings.
Given the rising concerns, officials at the Pentagon announced at a January 29 press conference the DOD would be looking into the issue, according to a report from Jim Garamone of DOD News.
Understanding the cyber kill chain and disrupting it could effectively defend against the most recent generation of cyber attacks. By scrutinizing the time and effort hackers invest in scoping out potential targets, network defenders can take advantage of several opportunities to block system access or, at the very least, drive up the cost, making attempts unappealing.
Undersea fiber optic communications cables are minimally protected and have locations that are public knowledge. This puts these vital communication links at risk of nation-state and terrorist attacks that could cause immense harm.
“The only way our nation is going to succeed in cyber is through public-private partnerships,” stated Major Gen. John B. Morrison, USA, commanding general, Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, during an informal question and answer session over lunch at AFCEA’s Cyber Education, Research and Training Symposium.
Educators and industry leaders echoed the sentiment during afternoon panels on the second day of the conference.
A cyber training environment is essential to collective training proficiency and educational agility in the face of rapidly evolving threats. During a morning workshop focused on research and development supporting the cyber training environment and tools, attendees at the Cyber Education, Research and Training Symposium (CERTS) explored possible solutions in this environment, and offered thoughts and insights on the work ahead.
Only half of federal civilian agencies are complying with federal regulations addressing email security, including email spoofing, according to a recent report from Sunnyvale, California-based Proofpoint.
In October, the Department of Homeland Security issued its domain-based message authentication reporting and conformance (DMARC) standard, Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 18-01, to improve the security of digital messages sent by federal agencies or from federal websites, explained Robert Holmes, author of the report.
During the afternoon of the first day of AFCEA’s Cyber Education, Research and Training Symposium (CERTS), leaders from all five branches of the armed forces shared their perspectives on cyber education and training. Though all five laid out slightly different strategies and goals for their individual services, they all agreed they should leverage each other’s expertise and work together to figure out a way forward.
Col. Andrew O. Hall, USA, director, Army Cyber Institute, opened AFCEA’s first Cyber Education, Research and Training Symposium (CERTS) with a cyberthreat update.
“How can we make security effective and intuitive, yet usable?” Col. Hall asked attendees at the sold out conference. “Efficiency is an area of weakness and easy to hack,” he added. But it’s necessary to perform missions.
The emerging threats to cybersecurity are growing. Col. Hall focused on the global supply chain, artificial intelligence (AI) weapons factories, information warfare and critical infrastructure.
AFCEA will host its first Cyber Education, Research and Training Symposium January 17-18 in Augusta, Georgia. The much-anticipated event, also known as CERTS, will connect military and agency stakeholders with solution providers from academia, business and research centers.
CERTS will feature keynote speakers, panels and breakout sessions promoting discussion between operators and supporting professionals. Featured speakers include Col. Andrew O. Hall, USA, director, Army Cyber Institute; Michael Hudson, deputy director, J-7, U.S. Cyber Command; and Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, USA, commanding general, Army Cyber Command.
Computer core processors using a "speculative execution" have a "serious security flaw," according to researchers from Google's Project Zero. The speculative execution functionality is "a technique used by most modern processors (CPUs) to optimize performance," according to Google’s Matt Linton, senior security engineer, and Matthew O'Connor, Office of the Chief Technology Officer. The flaws, dubbed "Spectre" and "Meltdown," make aspects of the computer memory vulnerable to cyber attacks.
The federal government has invested billions of dollars on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies over the past few years, but it may be compromising its security posture for better information. Certainly being able to share and access the information derived from connected sensors is vital to the protection of the United States and instrumental to military success. However, connected devices present enticing targets, as evidenced by the 2016 Mirai Botnet attack, which originated through vulnerable IoT devices.
The U.S. Army is narrowing the gap between policy and operations as it confronts new threats in cyberspace. Field reports are having greater and faster influence on the issuance of directives, and intelligence is now a major player in determining cyber policy.
“Aligning cybersecurity directly with our operations to achieve readiness is the key to succeeding and moving forward,” says Carol Assi, division chief for cybersecurity policy and governance in the Army Chief Information Officer (CIO)/G-6 office. “And shrinking the gap between operation and policy, having continuous dialogue and working hand in hand, addressing issues in a collaborative environment, [are essential] to that. We no longer can afford to work in silos.”
The U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber Mission Force must keep pace with a threat landscape that is evolving at an unprecedented tempo. Cyberthreats are constantly growing in volume, velocity and sophistication, and the force needs a warfighting platform that will allow it to get ahead of attackers. That platform should enable continuous improvement through iterative development at the speed and scale of military operations.
No longer a curiosity, the Internet of Things has emerged as a highly sought-after technology advantage for organizations worldwide. The federal government has stepped up as an innovator within this space, generating profound advancements with seemingly unlimited promise to support national security missions. Those in doubt need look no further than research from the Center for Data Innovation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan institute, which reveals a broad range of eclectic, real-life implementations.
Modern information and networking technologies bring exciting functionalities to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Manufacturers, service providers and users alike welcome the advancements because they boost business opportunities and enable new and better computing capabilities that offer convenience, increase independence and save time.
Plainly, innovations are appealing, but important security aspects are being pushed into the background. Security adds complexity and limitations to functionality. It requires more resources and seems to slow innovation and increase cost. In a military environment, these hurdles can seriously affect mission success.