Homeland Security

July 2, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Instant Eye small unmanned aerial system received approval last Thursday from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be used by an energy company, which will conduct research, development and training to see if the system is practical for inspecting infrastructure such as pipelines, power lines and insulators on towers. It is the first unmanned quadrotor to receive FAA certification and may be the lightest aircraft ever certified. The approval opens the door for the system to be used for a wide range of commercial applications.

August 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The rapid fielding office within the Pentagon helped develop the Accelerated Nuclear DNA Equipment system, which can process five DNA samples in about 90 minutes.

With the war in Afghanistan winding down, the U.S. Defense Department’s rapid deployment office, which specializes in identifying, developing and quickly fielding game-changing technologies, now will take a more long-term approach. Slightly stretching out the process will offer more flexibility to procure the best possible systems, will present more opportunities for interagency and international cooperation and may cut costs.

June 11, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has canceled the new generation of autonomous biodetection program after a Congressional oversight committee criticized the department’s acquisition process.

The biodetection program called BioWatch Generation-3 (Gen-3) would have operated 24 hours a day, year round in U.S. population centers to continuously monitor the air for agents of biological concern and give officials an early warning capability.

June 1, 2014
By Rita Boland
Virginia National Guard soldiers from the Fairfax-based Data Processing Unit respond to a simulated cyber attack during a cyberdefense exercise.

Cybersecurity remains a priority for the U.S. Defense Department, with officials protecting resources for it in the face of overall budget constraints. Guidance from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 directs a mission analysis of cybercapabilities not only in the active military, but also across partners, to help forces maintain their edge in protecting the nation.

June 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Smoke drifts into the sky from buildings and houses hit by shelling in Homs, Syria. Many Jihadi fighters leaving Syria will funnel through the Balkans and may pose a threat to other parts of the world.

In the coming months, extremists fighting in the Syrian civil war likely will begin returning to Europe, funneling through the Balkans where they can find cheap weapons, like-minded allies and temporary accomplices in the form of organized criminal groups. Conditions are ripe, according to experts, for those individuals to spread across Europe, launching terrorist attacks on major cities.

April 30, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Intelligence agencies could have investigated more thoroughly and shared information more effectively, but even if they had performed perfectly, they may not have been able to prevent last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, according to a report delivered today before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

May 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Dealing with the world’s increasing complexity is the primary challenge to keeping the homeland secure, according to Adm. Thad Allen, USCG, (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. He lists border security, the cyberthreat, information sharing, terrorism, criminal organizations and climate change as elements adding to that complexity.

“We have to start understanding that the root problem we’re trying to deal with is to defeat complexities that inhibit working across boundaries to deliver solutions,” he said while serving as the morning keynote speaker on the first day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., in March.

March 12, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Officials from across the Homeland Security Department (DHS) stressed the need for strong partnerships during the third and final day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference, Washington, D.C.

Luke McCormack, DHS chief information officer, and Nick Nayak, DHS chief procurement officer, set the tone for the day while sharing the morning’s welcome message. McCormack related that when he first started his job, Nayak phoned him up, called him “Cool Hand Luke,” and offered to help in any way he could. “It was at that moment we formed a partnership, and it has been growing stronger every day,” McCormack recalled.

March 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference Show Daily, Day 1

Information sharing and interoperability have come a long way since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but challenges still remain, agreed speakers and panelists on the first day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

March 11, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference 2014 Online Show Daily, Day 2

It is not surprising that cybersecurity would dominate the discussion on the second day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. But the depth and breadth and variety of topics surrounding cybersecurity and information protection in all its forms indicates the degree to which the information security mission has engulfed every department and agency at all levels of government.

February 14, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
(r-l) Capt. Dale Rielage, USN; Capt. Stuart Belt, USN; Capt. David A. Adams, USN; Capt. James Fanell, USN; Dr. James R. Holmes; and panel moderator Rear Adm. James G. Foggo III, USN, exchange views in a panel titled “What About China?”

West 2014 Online Show Daily, Day 3

Quote of the Day:

“We have global responsibilities. We will not be able to do less with less. We will do the same with less.”—Gen. James F. Amos, USMC, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps

March 1, 2014
By Kent R. Schneider

Even though the Cold War has ended and the monolithic threat against the West has disappeared, the relationship between Europe and the United States remains vital. Europe includes some of the United States’ strongest coalition partners and alliances; the two economies are closely tied and interdependent; and defense and security in Europe are evolving rapidly, just as in the United States. AFCEA chapters and members outside the United States number the greatest in Europe.

March 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Forces target criminals who use technology to target financial systems.

U.S. Secret Service officials are establishing two new cybercrime task forces—in Cincinnati and Denver—that will enhance the agency’s ability to detect and investigate information technology-related crimes, including credit card theft, attacks on the banking and finance infrastructure and identity fraud.

March 1, 2014
By Rita Boland
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) directorate is involved in a multilayer security approach to protecting U.S. interests.

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.

March 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo and Royal Netherlands Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel HNLMS Holland search Caribbean Sea waters for bales of contraband. SeaWatch is the Coast Guard’s next-generation command and control system for cutters.

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.

March 1, 2014
By George Kamis
Electrical transmission towers and lines carry power across Oregon from the Dalles Dam on the Columbia River. The nation’s critical infrastructure increasingly may be vulnerable to attack through supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

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.

February 1, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

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.

February 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The USCGC Waesche, the second of the National Security Cutter class, was outfitted in 2013 with a suite of technologies procured under the Coast Guard’s C4ISR project.

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.

January 13, 2014
By Rita Boland

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.

November 14, 2013
By George I. Seffers

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.

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