Homeland Security

June 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

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.

June 12, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

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.

June 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
Fig. 1 [circuit-traces-640.jpg]: Cyberspace is the new invasion route for marauders to attack the nation’s critical infrastructure, and that potential threat now is increasing to the point of likelihood.

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.

June 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
Crews can install the RecX transformer in two days or less.  (Photo: DHS)

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.

May 1, 2013
By Arthur Allen and Zdenka Willis
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter delivers passengers from the sailing ship Bounty after the ship foundered during superstorm Sandy last October.

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.

March 1, 2013
George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference 2013 Show Daily, Day 3

Although many in government are moving as quickly as possible to adopt new technologies, such as cloud computing and mobile devices, individual agencies still face cultural challenges that sometimes prevent them from moving forward, according to officials speaking as part of the Chief Information Officer Council at the AFCEA Homeland Security conference in Washington, D.C.

February 1, 2013
BY Rita Boland
Crews work in New Jersey to restore power that was knocked out during Hurricane Sandy. GridCloud, a project between Cornell University and Washington State University, employs cloud technology to make smart grids self-healing and more resilient in the event of natural or man-made disasters. Photo Credit: FEMA/Liz Roll

A cloud project takes advantage of emerging concepts to protect energy against disruptive threats.

Researchers at Cornell University and Washington State University have teamed to create GridCloud, a software-based technology designed to reduce the time and difficulty involved with creating prototypes of smart-grid control paradigms. The system will help overcome hurdles of cloud computing in complex settings. The effort combines Cornell’s Isis2 platform, designed for high-assurance cloud computing, with Washington State’s GridStat technology for smart grid monitoring and control. The advent of this technology promises to boost both the security and the reliability of electrical services.

March 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

When it comes to popular smartphones and tablets, security can be a many-layered and necessary endeavor

The growing use of advanced mobile devices, coupled with the increase in wireless broadband speed, is fueling demand by employees to bring their own devices to the job. This situation has opened a new set of security challenges for information technology staff, especially when it comes to the use of apps.

March 1, 2013
by Kent R. Schneider

Anyone who has attended an AFCEA conference in the past two months has heard the constant drumbeat from senior government leadership on the limitations on operations and readiness likely to occur in defense, intelligence and homeland security. At the AFCEA/USNI West 2013 Conference in San Diego January 29-31, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a packed audience that the U.S. Defense Department did not know how much money it would receive, when it would receive it or what the restrictions on its use would be.

February 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference 2013 Show Daily, Day 1

All too often, cyber and physical protection are considered separately, when really they go hand-in-hand, according to experts speaking at the first day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., February 26, 2013. The conference opened with a half-day of conversation about hackers, terrorists and natural disasters and addressed concerns involving both physical infrastructure and the cyber environment for all kinds of attacks, be they physical, virtual or even natural in origin.

February 27, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference 2013 Show Daily, Day 2

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the military, government and intelligence officials all agreed that federal agencies needed to be more willing and able to share critical data to better connect the dots.

While agencies at all levels—federal state and local—have made progress, officials continue to push for ever greater sharing and cooperation, not just within government but with industry and the general public as well. For example, while the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security can and do now share biometrics data housed in the disparate databases, they continue tweaking technology to improve data sharing even further.

February 20, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The Long Beach Police Department dive team adopts new homeland security equipment.

The Long Beach, California, police department dive team is now using a newly acquired search and recovery system to help protect the local port, shipping lanes and critical infrastructure.

February 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
Border patrol personnel use horses to navigate remote terrain.

The U.S. agency responsible for customs and border protection has suffered from an unreliable infrastructure and network downtimes but already is seeing benefits from a fledgling move to cloud computing. Those benefits include greater reliability and efficiency and lower costs.

February 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

Public safety personnel are standing at the beginning of a new era in communications as plans unfurl to create a nationwide broadband network dedicated to their needs. With many questions yet to be resolved, organizations must contend with making the right choices for today even as they prepare to take advantage of advanced future offerings.

February 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

U.S. officials tasked with securing routes into and out of the country are beginning to employ a technology that will pull together disparate information in a way that could save their lives or the lives of others. Though it was not designed exclusively for agents trying to control international movements, these personnel are early adopters, using the system to prevent illicit goods, undesirable persons or rampant violence from making its way over national boundaries.

February 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Competing companies are working to a common goal of testing and selling new technologies to government.

A newly created research and development consortium aims to expedite the piloting and testing of new technology for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, one of the Department of Homeland Security’s top missions. This effort, using a successful Defense Department procurement model, also hopes to expand innovation by making it possible for small businesses that don’t traditionally do business with the government to bring their ideas forward.

January 3, 2013
By Max Cacas

The purpose of the attack is purely robbery, says a cyber expert, who has shared his McAfee report with government officials.

November 29, 2012
By Max Cacas

The report on the power transmission system was delayed by government officials for security reasons.

November 15, 2012
By Beverly Mowery Cooper

Small business contracts make up 32 percent of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) business, with an average of 3,500 new contracts added every year. But it can be challenging for small companies to take advantage of these opportunities. Breaking into the DHS market as a small business is not impossible, according to Bob Namejko, industry liaison, DHS, but it is difficult.

Namejko says that one of the most important things a company can do when submitting a proposal to the DHS is to differentiate itself from its competition. The company not only needs to know who the competition is but also how to read between the lines when the request for proposal (RFP) goes out.

October 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

A new computing architecture emphasizes shared resources.

The nation’s intelligence community has embarked on a path toward a common computer desktop and a cloud computing environment designed to facilitate both timely sharing of information and cost savings. The implementation could result in budget savings of 20 to 25 percent over existing information technology spending within six years, but the ramifications could include large cultural changes that result both in lost jobs and business for industry partners.

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