Officials in U.S. federal and state governments need to consider and address the possible cyber risks stemming from the current civilian unrest, cyber experts advise. Until now, the federal government, especially, has had a foreign intelligence focus, said Adm. Michael Rogers, USN (Ret.).
The Defense Digital Service (DDS) and HackerOne announced the launch of the DDS’s latest bug bounty program with HackerOne. It is the eleventh such program for DDS and HackerOne and the third with the U.S. Department of the Army.
Hack the Army 3.0 is a security test— time-bound and hacker-powered—aimed at revealing vulnerabilities so they can be resolved before they are exploited by adversaries. The bug bounty program will run from January 6, 2021, through February 17, 2021, and is open to both military and civilian participants.
It is no secret that the U.S. government is grappling with cybersecurity issues across its organizations and agencies. The good news is that the government has an auditing agency that investigates possible weaknesses or cybersecurity gaps and makes key recommendations to rectify problems: the U.S. Government Accountability Office, known as GAO.
Germany, the United States and many other nations are facing a more diverse, complex, quickly evolving and demanding security environment than at any time since the end of the Cold War. The resulting challenges to national and international security and stability could be as harmful to societies, economies and institutions as conventional attacks.
The U.S. Army’s universal, reprogrammable encryption chip is in final testing and may be destined for the service’s next-generation encryption fill device, other military services or possibly even the commercial sector.
The REprogrammable Single Chip Universal Encryptor (RESCUE) technology was developed to be a government-owned, general-purpose cryptographic module and architecture that is highly tailorable to counter emerging cryptographic threats. It uses standardized encryption algorithms designed by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Institute for Standards and Technology.
The U.S. Army upped the tempo when Gen. Mark Milley, USA, fired off his first message to the force in August 2015 as the newly sworn-in Army Chief of Staff: “Readiness for ground combat is—and will remain—the U.S. Army’s No. 1 priority.” Today, Gen. Milley is the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Army has rebuilt its tactical readiness through a transformational process that it is now expanding to focus on strategic readiness.
Emerging technology, state actors such as Russia and China, and nonstate actors including ISIS, are often quoted as some of the greatest threats to computer and network security. But before the United States can engage with these threats effectively, the war against words must take place.
One place to start is by eliminating the word “cyber” as a descriptor. The term has been used and overused, manipulated and exploited so many times and in so many places, it has become meaningless. What individuals or organizations mean or want when they use it is impossible to say. It’s time to scrap the word altogether and instead specify technical concepts at a more granular level.
As cybersecurity threats become more sophisticated, organizations need a way to quickly detect and stop an attack or track and analyze its after-effects for clues. One important tool available to cybersecurity analysts is deep packet analysis.
Deep packet analysis, or packet sniffing, is a data processing technique that allows organizations to monitor network traffic for signs of intrusion, and to block or reroute it if an attack is detected. But its most important feature is the ability to record data traffic, allowing analysts to conduct detailed investigations into the nature of a cyber incident.
December’s news of yet another highly sophisticated break into U.S. government agencies’ cyber systems didn’t come as a surprise to the Government Accountability Office. The government’s auditing agency investigates possible weaknesses or cybersecurity gaps and makes key recommendations to rectify problems. In some ways, it saw this coming.
Experts have issued fresh warnings to U.S. citizens over the enormous amount of sensitive, personal information being routinely captured and commoditized, and that this same information is being weaponized by the country’s adversaries. A panel at the recent AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference highlighted that data gathering by Facebook, WhatsApp and Google presents a significant risk to both individuals and the nation.
The European Union has released a new EU Cybersecurity Strategy designed to bolster Europe's collective resilience against cyber threats and help to ensure that all citizens and businesses can fully benefit from trustworthy and reliable services and digital tools, according to a published announcement.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, reported yesterday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Director of Intelligence and CISA itself had created a Cyber Unified Coordination Group. The move was necessary given the alarming cyber compromise, a Trojan-style attack by threat-actor UNC2452 with ties to Russia. The attack, identified by FireEye, reached North American, European, Asian and Middle Eastern governments, technology firms, telecommunications, consulting companies and other entities, the company said.
Because U.S. adversaries likely will be able to use quantum computers within the next several years, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) officials are beginning to explore quantum-resistant technologies and the role the agency might play in developing or deploying those technologies.
Amassing data serves little purpose if it is not processed into knowledge, and that knowledge is largely wasted if leaders don’t understand what they have and how it can best be used.
That was just part of the message on empowering knowledge delivered by a NASA expert on the second day of TechNet Cyber 2020, AFCEA’s virtual event held December 1-3. Tiffany Smith, chief knowledge officer and information technology manager in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, emphasized the importance of understanding both the knowledge at hand, knowledge priorities and the people who will exploit that knowledge to the fullest.
Innovative ideas may hold the key to thwarting cyber adversaries emboldened by opportunities offered in the COVID-19 pandemic. And, the source of these innovative approaches may be diverse personnel who break the mold of conventional cybersecurity professionals.
The Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN) is partnering with a broad base of national security organizations and industry to counter an increasing threat to U.S. forces and their operations worldwide. The JFHQ-DODIN seeks to meet this challenge with four primary focus areas that include new technologies such as automation to move data, hone commanders’ information and defend the network.
The Defense Department’s new cybersecurity maturity model certification (CMMC) coincidentally took effect on the first day of TechNet Cyber, AFCEA’s virtual event being held December 1-3. Leading officials with the Defense Department, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and industry discussed what its implementation will mean to the defense industrial base (DIB) and the community as a whole.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is leading three different efforts that are working toward agile electromagnetic spectrum operations. While one focuses largely on improved spectrum usage by the military, the main focal point is to share bandwidth with civilian users in a way that does not inhibit either military operations or public bandwidth uses.
These three efforts were discussed by experts at TechNet Cyber 2020, AFCEA’s virtual event being held December 1-3. Leading officials with DISA and industry are outlining challenges and opportunities beckoning the defense communications community.
The U.S. Defense Department is working toward a nationwide comprehensive public safety communications network that addresses most of the drawbacks facing emergency communications today. Local bases would offer the same capabilities for routine and critical emergency communications, and they would interact with state, tribal and local government systems.
Like most organizations during the pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, is doing things a bit differently this year. Naturally, the agency is leveraging virtual events to increase its engagement with key mission partners, as well as government, industry and academia, including at the annual TechNet Cyber conference, noted Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, DISA’s director and the commander of Joint Forces Headquarters for the Department of Defense Information Systems Network (JFHQ-DODIN).
Electronic implants in the brain or other parts of the body may be more efficient and effective due to a recent breakthrough by researchers at the University of Delaware. The advance potentially offers a wide array of biotechnology benefits and could also allow humans to control unmanned vehicles and other technologies with the brain.
The U.S. Defense Department is developing a machine learning tool that can more quickly detect cyber intrusions and enable a more rapid response.
Speed will be the order of the day for military information systems as new technologies incorporate breakthrough innovations. Hardware also will transform as capabilities grow in influence. But above all, the entire defense information system community is undergoing major cultural changes spawned by a combination of innovation and disease.
The U.S. Air Force is on track to provisionally stand up its first and only Spectrum Warfare Wing (SWW)— known as the 350th SWW—this spring. The organization will be responsible for electronic warfare and so-called electromagnetic spectrum missionware. The 350th SWW’s role will run the gamut of providing such capabilities along the development, hosting, integration, testing and distribution phases, reported Lt. Gen. Chris Weggeman, USAF, deputy commander, Air Combat Command (ACC).
As the United States enters the third decade of the 21st century, our nation faces growing and rapidly evolving threats to our information technology, infrastructure, networks and data. Indeed, the ever-present threat of cyber attacks is one of the most significant challenges we face, impacting economic, political, societal and national security concerns. This ever-present threat touches every corner of our economy and every level of our government, from municipalities and school districts to state election databases to the Internal Revenue Service, Office of Personnel Management and the Defense Department.
U.S. data protection and its relationship to national interests are swiftly evolving. One reason this trend will continue, cybersecurity specialists say, is that other nations see cyberspace differently than the United States and other democracies. Rather than incorporating technology into their societies as a tool, they use cybersecurity—both offensively and defensively—to support their different views and overall significantly challenge U.S. interests.
It is not necessary for a leader to be the most brilliant person in an organization but to foster innovation and ensure those with big ideas are given opportunities to succeed, according to Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) director and the commander for the Joint Forces Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN).
Despite attempts from adversaries such as China, Iran and Russia to compromise voting on America’s Election Day, the election system worked well, even with the record levels of voting, reported senior officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The cybersecurity concerns now move to protecting the final vote counting, canvasing, auditing, certification and inauguration phases.
The U.S. military is rapidly pursuing Joint All-Domain Command and Control, known as JADC2, as a way to confront near-peer adversaries China, Russia and other nations. The effort requires innovative computing, software and advanced data processing; emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud and 5G communications; along with integration of the military’s existing legacy systems. Leaders have learned that to fully implement JADC2, they have to shed some of the military’s old practices.
When the U.S. Army conducts its Multi-Domain Operations Live experiment in the Indo-Pacific region next year, it will mark the first time the service has undertaken a full-scale technology development experiment in a combat theater. The goal is to assess technologies under the same conditions they will face in times of war, rather than in a stateside setting.
During an October 27 telephonic roundtable discussion with reporters, Lt. Gen. John Morrison, USA, Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-6, revealed four pillars for the restructured office. They include building a unified network; posturing signal, cyber and electronic warfare forces for multidomain operations; reforming and operationalizing cybersecurity processes; and driving effective and efficient network and cyber investments.
Traditional institutions are falling by the wayside as technologies and geopolitics undergo multiple revolutions. Political parties, global relations, sociological structures and education all are changing shape as a tsunami of new trends overwhelms traditional ways and means.
The result of these changes is that formerly disparate disciplines are becoming more interconnected than before. Digitization has become a common thread throughout all, but other factors have created symbiotic relationships that must be taken into account as humankind meets the challenges emerging in this new era.
U.S. government officials expect that 5G wireless connectivity will bring about so many new applications that the defense and intelligence communities will be able to influence the standard’s development. Various government organizations already are preparing for its innovative technologies with trial efforts and planning.
In some cases, experts believe that some of the biggest challenges concerning wireless connectivity—bandwidth, security and resilience—will be more easily met even with 5G’s complexity. And, the Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN) technology approach offers even greater flexibility of networking for 5G.
The U.S. Army continues to improve the cyberspace and electronic warfare capabilities of its soldiers. A key part of this effort are the changes the service is making to its Cyber Corps formations, and how they organize and add cyberspace and electronic warfare (EW) personnel to their ranks, said Brig. Gen. Paul Craft, USA, chief of cyber and commandant of the U.S. Army Cyber School headquartered at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
In addition to institutions such as NATO and the European Union (EU), one of the biggest players in North Atlantic defense is data, say European experts. Yet, nations often overlook the lessons generated by the private sector and not always pursuing effective investments in military information technology.
Those points were discussed at the AFCEA Europe Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) virtual event in late September. Maj. Gen. Erich Staudacher, GEAF (Ret.), AFCEA Europe general manager, offered that data increasingly sprawls into military mobility. He recited an old Latin saying that navigation is necessary, all the more in this sea of data.
As the military girds for a battlespace environment flush with big data, the COVID-19 coronavirus is forcing governments to adopt actions that can be applied to that requirement. Efforts underway to combat the virus are showing the way to data networking that can serve burgeoning civilian and military needs.
Just how these efforts constitute an exercise in synchronicity was explained by Terry Halvorsen, CIO/EVP, IT Mobile with Samsung Electronics. Speaking at the AFCEA Europe Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) virtual event in late September, Halvorsen described how combating the coronavirus has taken on warlike aspects that can be extended across the information technology spectrum.
Automation software tools are being under-utilized, especially in the U.S. Defense Department. While the department has purchased and used automated scanning tools for security and compliance, it has been slow to adopt automation for many other tasks that would benefit from the capability, such as easing software deployment and standardization and, once developed, increasing the speed of overall automation.
While the world was facing the rapid and deadly spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, most commonly known as COVID-19, malicious cyber attackers were also at work, increasing the number of attacks, switching methods, taking advantage of the boom in Internet, network and email users, and playing on fears during the uncertain time, cybersecurity experts say. Companies struggling to maintain operations are still leaving gaps in digital security, they warn.
When it comes to nefarious deeds, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a gold mine for bad actors. In addition to wreaking havoc for individuals and healthcare organizations, federal agencies are also prime targets. Case in point: a portion of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) website was recently compromised, in what appears to be a part of an online COVID-19 disinformation campaign.
In a time of heightened cyber risk and limited human and fiscal resources, how can agencies protect their networks from malicious actors by taking a page from the COVID playbook? They can diligently practice good (cyber) hygiene.
In fact, there is a direct correlation between personal and cyber hygiene.
The future of U.S. technology, if the federal government has its way, likely will be cyber-heavy with innovative breakthroughs erupting from several areas, according to the office charged by Congress with assessing things to come. These areas include seemingly mundane concerns such as telecommunications and digital ledger capabilities, along with more advanced issues such as artificial intelligence and quantum systems.
Many of these disruptive technologies have policy ramifications either in their development or their implementation. The federal government must consider aspects such as regulatory issues, privacy, economic competitiveness and security requirements.
The U.S. Navy is focusing on parallel development of its new digital assets and capabilities as it works to rush advanced information innovations to the fleet. With the need for better technologies increasing coincidental to the rapidly evolving threat picture, the Navy has opted for concurrence as its main tool for implementing both upgrades and innovations.
To deal with the coronavirus pandemic lockdown this year, the Department of Defense had to massively and immediately ramp up remote teleworking capacity all across its global network. This forced march to the cloud—unprecedented in speed and scale—makes it imperative that the department also move to implement a new generation security architecture. Without it, the cyber attack surface will expand as the remote workforce and the tools they use become new vectors for adversaries.
Users need to transition all networked computing from the commercial central processing unit addiction to pure dataflow for architecturally safe voting machines, online banking, websites, electric power grids, tactical radios and nuclear bombs. Systems engineering pure dataflow into communications and electronic systems can protect them. The solutions to this challenge are in the users’ hands but are slipping through their fingers. Instead, they should grab the opportunity to zeroize network attack surfaces.
The two-factor authentication schema is often heralded as the silver bullet to safeguard online accounts and the way forward to relegate authentication attacks to the history books. However, news reports of a phishing attack targeting authentication data, defeating the benefits of the protection method, have weakened confidence in the approach. Furthermore, hackers have targeted account recovery systems to reset account settings, yet again mitigating its effectiveness. Facilitating additional layers of security is crucial to bolstering user account protection and privacy today and into the future.
The ability to perform data science at the edge is growing increasingly important for organizations across the public sector. From smart traffic cameras to hospitals using data processing for faster diagnosis and warfighters leveraging data in theater, the need to derive actionable intelligence at the edge has never been greater.
Gartner researchers predict that by 2025 three quarters of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed at the edge, outside of a traditional data center or cloud. Fulfilling the promise of real-time edge data processing and analysis requires significant intelligence and computational horsepower that’s close to the action.
Over the last few months, Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) conversations have been top-of-mind across the DoD. We have been hearing the chatter during industry events all while sharing conflicting interpretations and using various definitions. In a sense, there is an uncertainty around how the security model can and should work. From the chatter, one thing is clear—we need more time. Time to settle in on just how quickly mission owners can classify a comprehensive and all-inclusive acceptable definition of Zero Trust Architecture.
Cybersecurity is now a significant area of focus and concern for senior leaders who have witnessed cyber events that have resulted in significant financial and reputational damage. However, for many organizations, data defense continues to be a technology-focused effort managed by the technical “wizards.” Board of director discussions often zero in on describing the latest cyber threats rather than taking a long-range approach.
But cybersecurity is more than a technical challenge. Enterprise risk management (ERM) is an effective tool to assess risks, including those with cyber origins, but few businesses or agencies use the technique for this purpose, cyber experts assert.
Over the last few months, the Defense Information Systems Agency, known as DISA, has been working with the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense (DoD) chief information officer and others to finalize an initial reference architecture for zero trust. The construct, according to DISA’s director, Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, and commander, Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network, will ensure every person wanting to use the DoD Information Network, or DODIN, is identified and every device trying to connect is authenticated.
The need to move away from a perimeter-based cybersecurity model—the moat and castle approach—to a cloud-enabled zero trust architecture—an underlying framework that essentially is like placing a security door in front of each and every application—is apparent. Similarly, identity, once mostly an operational and user experience-driven technology, has evolved to be a core aspect of cybersecurity, verifying a user in a network or activity, said Frank Briguglio, strategist, Global Public Sector, SailPoint.
Federal agencies and especially the DOD are quickly embracing cloud computing for many IT requirements. Traditional computing paradigms are giving way to distributed computing that is fundamental to the dynamic and ephemeral cloud environment.
At the same time, the user base is also becoming much more distributed, particularly in this era of increased remote work. Teams of globally dispersed personnel from the DOD, partner organizations and even supporting contractors are now regularly leveraging the cloud to share information critical to mission fulfillment.