Cyber

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy is facing new and better cyber adversaries as it expands its own cyber footprint. These threats face the fleet and the nation, and the Navy may be called upon to respond in both cases.

Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, USN, commander, Fleet Cyber Command and commander, Tenth Fleet, described her command’s challenges to a Thursday morning audience at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12. Adm. Tighe related that 2014 saw several criminal and destructive cyber attacks, and this trend is likely to grow in 2015.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy is focusing on five long-term goals in its cyber operations that involve other service and national assets. Some concentrate directly on network operations, while others are at the heart of national security activities.

Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, USN, commander, Fleet Cyber Command and commander, 10th Fleet, outlined the five goals in her Thursday morning address at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12. Her first goal simply is to operate the network as a warfighting entity.

February 11, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The White House this week announced that it is creating a federal agency to keep tabs on and counter cybersecurity threats against the United States. The Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center will be the clearinghouse for collaborative offensive and defensive work performed by the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

February 1, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
A sonar technician onboard the guided missile destroyer USS Mustin stands watch in the ship’s sonar center. With cyberspace being a warfighting domain, the U.S. Navy’s information networks are a major target that must be protected and defended proactively.

Sea states are giving way to cyberthreats as the biggest variable affecting U.S. Navy operations. While the Navy is working with the other services and the U.S. Cyber Command to protect and defend its networks, it also is shaping its own cyberforce to deal with digital challenges outside of its normal purview.

February 1, 2015
By Capt. Robert M. Lee, USAF

The U.S. Air Force cyber community is failing, but not all is lost. While some aspects are in dire need of repair or replacement, effective solutions potentially are within reach—if leadership is up to the task.

February 1, 2015
By James C. Bussert

While infocentric nations and military forces focus on the threat to their systems from malware-wielding cyber attackers, a significant danger to cyberspace may come from outer space in the form of kinetic weapons that attack vital satellites. A great number of the tactical and strategic military systems that all major, and many minor, powers use 24 hours a day rely on satellites for vital input data. Also, nearly all satellites have dual civilian and military modes, and all nations and businesses would be impacted by any loss of the vital satellites.

January 30, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
John Hickey, program manager for Defense Department Mobility at DISA, talks about security assessment and risk acceptance for DOD migration to commercial cloud.

The Defense Department’s slow migration of much of its unclassified and nonsensitive data, along with the unclassified side of its email, to a hybrid cloud solution is taking longer than hoped but is going to happen, promised Defense Department Acting Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen.

“The sound of money is what’s driving this,” Halvorsen told industry members attending the Defense Department’s Cloud Industry Day held Thursday in Washington, D.C. “How do we use the cloud and modern technologies to reduce the cost and drive it into the other part, the warfighting part, of our business?”

January 29, 2015
By Maryann Lawlor

A survey of 200 federal government, military and intelligence information technology and information technology security professionals shows that staff members pose a larger threat to computer systems than external threats. Respondents also noted that while most agencies increased their investment in addressing malicious external threats during the past two years, less than half added funding to address malicious or accidental insider threats. In some cases, investments in battling insider threats have decreased.

April 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
The U.S. Marine Corps is developing a private cloud computing environment to provide better information services to the tactical edge. Here, communicators set up a Support Wide Area Network System during a training exercise.

As they put the necessary pieces in place, Marines are mindful of tight resources and are seeking help from industry.

For the past year, U.S. Marine Corps technical personnel have been implementing a strategy to develop a private cloud. The initiative supports the vision of the commandant while seeking to offer better services to troops in disadvantaged areas of the battlefield.

January 12, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Screen shot of CENTCOM's Twitter page, which had been hacked January 12, 2015.

Update: As of January 14, the Twitter and YouTube accounts for CENTCOM are back online.

The Twitter and YouTube accounts for the U.S. Central Command, the Defense Department branch responsible for operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, were hacked Monday by sympathizers of the Islamic State militant group, prompting U.S. officials to suspend the accounts and launch yet another round of investigations into a cybersecurity breach.

CENTCOM’s Twitter feed included an ominous post that read: “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS.”

January 13, 2015
By Maryann Lawlor

While cybersecurity is getting big play in the news these days—as it well should—three topics require just as much attention but have not yet hit the big time. Acquisition, spectrum and interoperability may not have the headline-grabbing charm of the hack into the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter account, but they are issues that need the same serious attention.

For years, industry and government personnel have agreed that the system for purchasing information technology systems needs change—serious change. The complicated acquisition process not only puts out-of-date technology in warfighters’ hands, it puts lives in danger.

January 12, 2015

Editor, SIGNAL:

I read Adm. Stravidis’ thoughtful piece on “Cyber Attacks” with great interest, for I directed the Tallinn Manual project to which he referred. Unfortunately, the admiral misstates the position taken by the “International Group of Experts” that prepared the manual during a three-year project sponsored by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence.

December 29, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

U.S. Marines are testing skill sets integrated with technology in an effort to succeed in a combined conventional warfare/cyber warfare setting, employing devices such as integrated head-mounted displays and sensors on the battlefield and avoiding information overload.

December 23, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) is inviting comments on a draft project to secure medical devices known as networked infusion pumps, which convey fluids, drugs and nutrients into patients' bloodstreams. Hospitals are increasingly using the devices and connecting them to a central system, which makes them more vulnerable to cyberthreats.

A networked infusion pump can allow centralized control of the device’s programming as well as automated cross checks against pharmacy records and patient data to ensure the right dose of fluids or medication are delivered at the right time to the right patient.

December 11, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Being able to respond and adapt to changes in combat conditions is as important in cyberspace as it is in the battlespace. Forces must train for changes amid contested environments in cyberspace as they do in conventional battle.

This point was raised in a panel on assured interoperability on the final day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014, being held December 9-11 in Honolulu. Panel moderator Rear Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, J-6, U.S. Pacific Command, emphasized the need for maneuver warfare in cyberspace.

December 12, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

Podcasts are the audio on-demand equivalent of video these days. They are a bit more portable because anyone with a smartphone or tablet can tune in and catch up on episodes—not only all the time but also wherever they want. It’s a bit difficult to watch a movie while driving, although it’s been done. Podcasts also feature one other capability that on-demand viewing does not facilitate: audience participation.

December 10, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The most dangerous threat to the United States may come from cyberspace rather than terrorists, according to a panel of experts. A cyberspace attack could wreak damage that would change the nature of the country, they suggested.

This was one of many issues discussed by a panel on cyber and intelligence on day two of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014, being held in Honolulu December 9-11. The panelists offered that cyber and terrorism are the most realistic threats facing the United States.

December 10, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The virtual landscape and ongoing technology trends favor cyber attackers throughout the digital realm. And, that imbalance is likely to worsen as more state players exploit new capabilities for inflicting severe damage through cyberspace.

This issue was explored by a panel on cyber and intelligence on day two of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014, being held in Honolulu December 9-11. All the panelists agreed that the deck is stacked in favor of cybermarauders, and that situation is likely to worsen.

December 10, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber Mission Force is beginning to enter the fray, but it still lacks full strength and expertise. Teams are being assigned to combatant commands as quickly as possible, yet their missions are still taking shape.

Lt. Gen. James "Kevin" McLaughlin, USAF, deputy commander, U.S. Cyber Command, described the status of the Cyber Mission Force to the breakfast audience at day two of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014, being held in Honolulu December 9-11. Gen. McLaughlin explained that half the teams focus on defending, while the other half focus on initiating activities.

December 10, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. secretary of defense recently approved a Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN) concept and Joint Force Headquarters DODIN Operations within the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) headed by the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). The new organization falls under CYBERCOM, but it is headed by Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., USAF, DISA’s director.

Lt. Gen. James McLaughlin, USAF, deputy commander, U.S. Cyber Command, explained this construct to the breakfast audience during the second day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014, being held December 9-11 in Honolulu. It represents a shift in focus for cybersecurity.

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