Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, government agencies came under widespread criticism for failing to share information and "connect the dots." By contrast, law enforcement agencies were almost universally praised following the Boston Marathon bombing and the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., both of which took place last year, pointed out panelists at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
The National Weather Service is the granddaddy of open source data, according to Adrian Gardner, chief information officer, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). And, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was "into big data before big data was cool," added David McClure, a data asset portfolio analyst within the NOAA Office of the Chief Information Officer. The two officials made their comments during a panel on big data analytics at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.
The real challenge to keeping the homeland secure is dealing with the world's increasing complexity, Adm. Thad Allen, USCG, (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday during his luncheon keynote address.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is only interested in mobile communication if it allows the agency to perform functions it could not perform otherwise, Mark Borkowski, component acquisition executive and assistant commissioner with the CBP Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday. "We're not interested in mobility for mobility's sake but because it allows us to do something we haven't done before," Borkowski said, while participating in a panel on mobility and interoperability.
The U.S. Coast Guard wants contractors to provide it with affordable systems instead of top-of-the-line technology solutions, said its commandant. Adm. Robert J .Papp Jr., USCG, told the audience at the West 2014 Thursday luncheon town hall in San Diego that everything the Coast Guard does is within a constrained environment, and it needs solutions that don’t strain its already tight financial resources.
He explained that many contractors apply the Defense Department model to Coast Guard acquisition, but the same rules do not apply and many great technological solutions just cost too much. The Coast Guard will be scrutinizing bidders on its upcoming programs, he added, because affordability is the number-one requirement.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has joined the UN and the White House in establishing a Thunderclap account. The agency’s goal is to encourage citizens to be prepared for emergencies. Thunderclap syncs social media accounts to release an automatic Facebook post, tweet or both. By signing up and using #Prepared2014 throughout 2014, friends and followers will be reminded to be ready for natural disasters and man-made emergencies throughout the year.
Eight emerging cybersecurity technologies developed by the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories will be featured at the Transition-to-Practice Technology Demonstration Day for Investors, Integrators and IT Companies East event on December 18 in Washington, D.C. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate will unveil new capabilities for intrusion detection, removable media protection, software assurance and malware forensics.
Elbit Systems has, announced that its Australian subsidiary, Elbit Systems of Australia Pty Ltd (ELSA), was awarded a contract in the amount of approximately $32 million U.S. dollars ($35 million Australian dollars) to supply the Australian Federal Police with an Investigation, Intelligence and Incident Management (IIIM) Solution to be supplied over a four-year period.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is encouraging the U.S. Coast Guard to work with industry to identify the latest unmanned vehicles to improve maritime safety and security while saving money. In a recent Congressional Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hearing, Hunter, the chairman of the subcommittee, shared that he has seen a commercially built autonomous surface vehicle that can facilitate sub-sea to surface to satellite communications.
The new next-generation dispatch center for the San Luis Obispo County, California, Sheriff’s Office is one of the first in the nation to be completely Internet protocol-based, bridging its existing radio system with the latest smartphone and tablet technology. The new system turns a standard PC into a communications dispatch console and also turns a smartphone into a multi-channel land mobile radio handset for secure, on-demand push-to-talk communication.
A “digital Pearl Harbor Armageddon” that inflicts catastrophic damage on the United States is not likely soon or in the foreseeable future. The worst cyber attack that could be expected would have less of an effect for a shorter period of time, said an expert with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
Sean Kanuck, national intelligence officer for cyber issues at the National Intelligence Council, ODNI, told the audience at the second day of the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that predictions of destruction that would bring the United States to its knees are unnecessarily pessimistic and unlikely to materialize.
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems face numerous threats from cybermarauders coming at them from any of a number of directions. Some systems could suffer malware attacks even though they are not the intended targets, according to a leading security expert.
Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive officer and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, described the threat to SCADA systems to the audience at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Kaspersky described several SCADA attacks that already occurred and warns of new potential vulnerabilities.
Cobham’s Brazilian subsidiary has secured its first major contract in Brazil to equip state police helicopters with high definition video surveillance downlinks, which will be used on helicopters in 12 cities during the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup. The contract was developed with a local integration partner following the opening of the Cobham’s Sao Paulo office in August 2012 and includes both airborne and ground based equipment. This procurement was made through the newly-formed Extraordinary Secretariat for Security at Large Scale Events.
The Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS) Program recently implemented a simplified sign-on capability that enables federal, state and local law enforcement to collaborate. The flexible environment is based on the Federal Identity, Credential and Access Management guidance and facilitates the use of Common Access Cards and Personal Identity Verification cards for use across organizational boundaries. RISS is working with several state law enforcement agencies to provide them with federated identification for access to resources within their state that are hosted on the Regional Information Sharing Systems Law Enforcement Cloud (RISSNET).
Ishpi Information Technologies Inc., Mount Pleasant, S.C., has won a $6.7 million dollar multi-year task to provide the United States Coast Guard with subject matter expertise in the areas of information systems security and analysis, certification and accreditation, risk management, and information assurance training support to the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Information Technology Service Center.
The recently signed executive order on cybersecurity and the presidential directive on critical infrastructure protection are not separate documents. In fact, they are part of the same overall effort to protect the nation, said Rand Beers, undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Beers discussed the effort on Thursday at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.
Top information technology officials from a variety of government agencies identified cloud computing, mobile devices and edge technologies as the technologies that will be critical for accomplishing their missions in the future.
Luke McCormack, chief information officer, Justice Department, cited cloud-as-a-service as vital to the future. He urged industry to continue to push the barriers of stack computing, and he mentioned edge technology as an emerging technology. “Edge is going to be really critical to perform missions,” he said. He cited the Google Glass project as an indicator of what the future will bring.
As the U.S. government wrestles with its myriad budgetary woes, training, modeling and simulation can provide substantial savings in a variety of ways, according to officials speaking on the Training, Modeling and Simulation panel at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.
“With the economic turmoil that we find ourselves in today, where we have to simultaneously reduce costs while protecting the homeland, I believe we are now in a period where modeling and simulation and virtual reality methodologies are not really an aid to live training, they are indispensable,” said Sandy Peavy, chief information officer, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Homeland Security Department (DHS).
The U.S. top-down, federal government-based national security model currently used to protect the nation is not the best model for homeland security. Instead, the country should adopt a decentralized model called "network federalism" that empowers state and local agencies and encourages them to work together to resolve security issues.