From the outer space environment of the moon to the virtual realm of cyberspace, technology challenges have the potential to vex the intelligence community. Many of the tools that the community is counting on to accomplish its future mission can be co-opted or adopted by adversaries well-schooled in basic scientific disciplines. So U.S. intelligence officials must move at warp speed to develop innovations that give them an advantage over adversaries while concurrently denying foes the use of the same innovations against the United States.
Trusted intelligence is needed in an era in which the United States is facing growing threats. The military and other entities in the intelligence community rely on the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency to provide not only actionable intelligence but also the platforms or information technology systems that enable intelligence gathering, processing and analysis. To meet the increasing demand for intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency, known as the DIA, has distributed part of its workforce to the various U.S. military commands that it supports. This global deployment has altered the role of the DIA, explains Jean Schaffer, the agency’s chief information security officer (CISO) and chief of Cyber and Enterprise Operations.
Second of a two-part series.
Few if any topics cause more stress across the Defense Department than cybersecurity. As I noted in my last column, department leaders have taken many steps to address the problem. While most of these steps are helpful, we still see a lot of emphasis placed on setting and enforcing cyber standards across the department and its broader ecosystem of stakeholders.
The U.S. Army is enjoying a renaissance period for cyber and electronic warfare (EW) technologies and has a chance to lay a foundation of interoperability in cyber systems, says Col. Kevin Finch, USA, program manager for electronic warfare and cyber within the Program Executive Office-Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors.
Col. Finch made the comments on the final day of the AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. AFCEA added an extra day to the annual conference to highlight procurement and acquisition.
Maj. Gen. Neil Hersey, USA, commander, of the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, said the center could potentially change its name, but that close cooperation among the centers of excellence essentially already provides the benefits of an information warfare center of excellence.
The change—if it happens—would follow the lead of the Army Cyber Command. Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, USA, who leads Army Cyber Command, has been pushing to change the name to Army Information Warfare Operations Command. The service’s centers of excellence fall under the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
Brig. Gen. Anthony “Tony” Potts, program executive officer (PEO)-soldier, recently signed a new standard for 256-bit encryption for individual soldier systems. That is an increase from 128-bit encryption.
And since beginning the job about 18 months ago, he has stopped the once-common practice in the PEO-Soldier shop of signing cybersecurity waivers for the individual soldier equipment being developed. Furthermore, he is building a “robust capability” Risk Management Framework, which essentially specifies security controls for a system that involves organizational risk.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) continues to add capabilities available to warfighters and to the broader Defense Department community.
The agency has created a lot of buzz in recent months with a number of initiatives involving cloud capabilities, mobility and biometrics. Officials serving on a DISA panel continued that trend at the AFCEA TechNet Augusta 2019 conference in Augusta, Georgia.
Data is a strategic asset, but the human factor is the greatest unsolved issue in cybersecurity. Much progress has been made in securing technology, but today, it is not just the technology but also how you factor in human behavior. Security is not just about protecting the widget or fixing the algorithm because you must factor in behavior and external sources as well.
A panel of five women, all whom have excelled in cyber-related careers, took on some of cyber’s most pressing issues at TechNet Augusta.
Today’s military operates in a congested and contested cyber environment, and to have the advantage over its adversaries, the military must be able to integrate a variety of cyber-connected elements. Keeping the advantage depends on the ability to balance the level of precision required, to operate with speed, to accept nonconventional means and to tolerate less-than-perfect solutions. In an environment just short of war, there is no place for bureaucracy.
Members of an international panel of cyber experts recommend recruiting personnel some might consider misfits in the cyber realm.
In the cyber realm, organizations need the means to rapidly identify emerging threats, immediately respond to mitigate risk, and systematically learn from these encounters—just as the immune system responds to a virus.
A single tool, process or team cannot deliver true cybersecurity. Collecting, analyzing and disseminating intelligence requires a converged organization that fuses expertise across domains. As adversaries possessing sophisticated expertise and considerable resources target multiple attack vectors—cyber, electromagnetic and physical, for example—cyber leaders must develop teams and systematic processes to rapidly transform analysis into action.
When government agencies consider the MITRE ATT&CK Framework, most want to better understand and address adversary behavior. When it comes to combating an agency’s debilitating shortage of skilled cyber personnel, most are still looking for effective solutions. But, what if the MITRE ATT&CK Framework is as effective at enhancing cyber defense skills as it is at identifying the adversary’s antics?
The U.S. Cyber Command has released a list of 39 challenge problems fitting under 12 categories: vulnerabilities, malware, analytics, implant, situational awareness, capability development, persona, hunt, mission management, attack, security and blockchain.
Speed is of the essence as the U.S. Army works earnestly with industry to equip the force with the latest tools to combat cyber attacks. Yet rapid acquisition must be weighed against wasteful haste as the service aims to deliver combat-effective capabilities without breaking stride.
These capabilities include a revamped tool suite, a portable cyber defense system and advanced cyber situational awareness. At the forefront of these efforts is the project manager, defensive cyber operations (PM DCO), part of the Army’s Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is incorporating new cyber technologies and standards as it strives for greater interoperability among a growing number of allies and potential partners. This increased reliance on cyber is viewed by command leadership as essential for maintaining effective military capabilities in the face of a growing kinetic and cyber presence by diverse adversaries.
Part one of a two-part series.
Nothing keeps Defense Department leaders up at night more than today’s cyber threat. This heightened concern was clearly reflected in the September 2018 DoD Cyber Strategy, which noted that “competitors deterred from engaging the United States and our allies in an armed conflict are using cyberspace operations to steal our technology, disrupt our government and commerce, challenge our democratic processes, and threaten our critical infrastructure.”
Officials from several federal agencies testified on Wednesday as to the effectiveness of the government’s cloud accreditation process, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, with mixed reviews. Most witnesses before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing, entitled To the Cloud! The Cloudy Role of FedRAMP in IT Modernization, confirmed the positive benefits of the program.
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, H.R. 2500, by a vote of 220-197. Known as the NDAA, the annual legislation authorizes policy measures for the Defense Department. It varies from the Senate’s bill, S. 1790—passed on June 28—which the two legislative bodies will have to reconcile before sending a final NDAA to the president.
The May 7th ransomware attack against Baltimore has crippled much of the local government’s IT infrastructure while holding its network hostage. Not since the March 2018 attacks against Atlanta has a major U.S. city been so digitally impaired.
The subsequent media coverage of Baltimore’s struggle has generated some misplaced criticism of the U.S. government. Initial news reports erroneously claimed that the ransomware leveraged an NSA-developed exploit to compromise Baltimore’s municipal systems. Unfortunately, this snowballed into numerous sources placing blame on the NSA, claiming that they mismanaged their cyber weaponry.
This is grossly incorrect.
Meta: We examined the simulated phishing data of our federal customers and identified three tips program administrators and decision-makers in these organizations can use to strengthen their security awareness training efforts.
U.S. federal government agencies face ongoing scrutiny from virtually all angles, but cybersecurity has leapt to the forefront in recent years. From safeguarding elections to defending against nation-state attacks, federal organizations (and their workers) face many sophisticated and high-profile threats—in addition to day-to-day issues that impact data and system security.