Homeland security officials are battling privacy and technology issues amid the new social media era that offers both challenges and opportunities. Just as new technologies and information sharing architectures have improved interagency data sharing, new sources of potentially valuable information have emerged to vex planners who must handle technical obstacles and personal rights.
By the end of this fiscal year, the next-generation command and control system for much of the cutter fleet should be installed on the U.S. Coast Guard’s 270-foot cutter class, and the system is now being considered for inclusion on 225-foot and 110-foot vessels. The system, called SeaWatch, combines navigational and tactical, optical surveillance and communications into one situational awareness picture; provides commonality across the fleet; and replaces an aging system that has outlived its usefulness.
The nation’s critical infrastructure and industrial-control systems have become such potential high-value targets for terrorists that their vulnerability threatens the fabric of society. And, as they increase in both importance and vulnerability, these systems cannot be protected using conventional information security measures.
A new software tool allows federal agencies to scan mobile device applications for security and accessibility issues prior to publishing them. The automated process allows developers to check their code rapidly against a variety of government guidelines to ensure that new mobile applications keep personnel and their organizations safe from hacking and other malicious outside threats.
When the U.S. Coast Guard fields its newest cutter next year, the ship will be equipped with an information technology package that offers common tools and capabilities among the cutter and aviation fleets. The technology suite will improve interoperability across the service and with other agencies, and it enhances situational awareness while providing flexibility for future upgrades.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is building on the success of the initial round of its Secretary’s Honors Program Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative by expanding the program in 2014. Officials launched the second installment earlier this academic year, opening to a wider audience with more opportunities at an increased number of agencies.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is seeking participants for the Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP), which is expected to open to beta users in January. The ultimate goal for the marketplace is to help protect the nation’s critical infrastructure by improving software used for essential functions, such as electrical power, gas and oil, and banking and finance. Potential participants are invited to register at the continuous assurance website.
Work has begun at the federal level to develop a nationwide dedicated, reliable network, which will provide advanced data communications capabilities to police officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will enable public safety personnel to make cellular-quality calls and send data, video, images and text—similar to the capabilities offered on commercial networks. Incident commanders and local officials will have priority access and control over the network. Interoperability issues that result from stovepiped local systems, geographic limitations and other regional constraints also will be resolved.
Biometrics is on the verge of becoming more pervasive than ever in everyday life, setting the stage for personal identifiers to take the place of other common security measures. The expansion mirrors increased usage in fields such as military operations, citizen enrollment and public safety.
The FBI is on schedule to finish implementing next-generation biometric capabilities, including palm, iris and face recognition, in the summer of next year. New technology processes data more rapidly, provides more accurate information and improves criminal identification and crime-solving abilities.
The working group that helped solve the coalition interoperability puzzle in Afghanistan is working across the U.S. Defense Department and with other nations to ensure that the lessons learned will be applied to future operations around the globe. Experience in creating the Afghan Mission Network may benefit warfighters worldwide, such as those in the Asia Pacific, and may even be applied to other missions, including homeland security and humanitarian assistance.
Domestic security officials aim to replace human divers with an autonomous underwater vehicle whose design is derived from nature: the tuna, one of the fastest and most maneuverable fish in the sea. The vehicle would be used primarily to inspect ship hulls for contraband, saving divers from hazardous trips into hard-to-reach areas below the waterline where oil and other toxic chemicals are part of the mix. Designers also envision the tuna-modeled robot could also be used for search and rescue missions.
Researchers at one of the premier national laboratories in the United States are prepared to hand the Defense Department a prototype system that compresses imagery without losing the quality of vital data. The system reduces the volume of information; allows imagery to be transmitted long distances, even across faulty communications links; and allows the data to be analyzed more efficiently and effectively.
AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum Online Show Daily, Day 2
Quote of the Day:
“Whether it is national security information for the president, or financial information for a chief executive, when you don’t know whether the data is true or false, it’s a really bad day.”—Sean Kanuck, national intelligence officer for cyber at the National Intelligence Council in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Industry officials foresee changes in network security.
Cyber industry experts predict a number of coming developments in the cyber realm, driven in part by government strategy and funding uncertainties. The future may include a greater reliance on law enforcement to solve state-sponsored hacks, increased automation and more outsourcing.
U.S. companies are closely monitoring foreign-sourced hardware, but other measures may loom.
Constant monitoring of the telecommunications supply chain by U.S. network providers has ensured the integrity of foreign-made equipment, but the U.S. government tentatively is exploring efforts to establish standards for companies to focus supply chain efforts. Other countries have incorporated more stringent approaches that might be implemented in the United States. U.S. government experts believe, however, that some of those approaches might actually be counterproductive if adopted by U.S. firms.
The United States must “normalize” cyberspace operations if it is to protect and defend cyber assets, including the critical infrastructure, according to the commander of the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). Gen. Keith B. Alexander, USA, who also is the director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Security Service (CSS), told the Senate Committee on Appropriations Wednesday that the nation faces “diverse and persistent threats” that cannot be countered through the efforts of any single organization.
Cyberspace offers a wealth of options for evildoers seeking to bring down a nation.
Digital marauders have set their sights on the critical infrastructure and are likely to strike soon with major effect. Several different elements of the infrastructure are vulnerable to attack by all manner of cyberspace players ranging from malevolent individuals to hostile nation-states.
Industry and government search for for the best approach for the rapid recovery of a key element of the electrical grid in the event of an attack.
One of the most crucial elements of the nation’s critical infrastructure is gradually getting the attention it believes it deserves from both the electrical power industry and the federal government. In the years to come, that effort could finally yield agreement on how best to design and implement badly needed upgrades to a key component to the daily operation of the power grid—electrical transformers—and how they would be replaced in the event of a systemwide failure or an attack on the grid itself.
The synergy between operational planning and radar sensing provides enhanced search and rescue capabilities.
The U.S. Coast Guard is combining high-frequency coastal radar data with traditional oceanographic and geographic information to improve its chances of rescuing people in distress on the high seas. By merging these different sources of data, the Coast Guard enhances its search abilities while also providing better weather prediction for both its search and rescue teams and an endangered public in coastal areas.