Online Show Daily: DISA Mission Partner Conference

May 8, 2012
By Rita Boland

Cloud computing and security were the hot topics during the first full day of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Mission Partner Conference. Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins, Jr., USAF, director of the agency, said efforts are ongoing to synch different cloud efforts within the U.S. Defense Department and the intelligence community. He also stated that DISA is tucked in tightly behind the department's chief information officer in the cloud arena. In a presentation immediately following the general's, AT&T's Chief Security Officer Edward Amoroso touted cloud as a way to improve cybersecurity. After emphasizing that current security methods are really no security at all, he used what he called a "trustometer" to show how putting information into the cloud can protect it better than traditional methods. Amoroso said that in today's environment there is no perimeter protecting data and no trust of who and what can access it. "I think that's where we are," he stated. "That's 2012." The challenge for the attendees who support warfighters "is that that is not acceptable," he added. By employing a cloud, network professionals at least can know some protection is around their information. By adding some extra security measures to the cloud, trust increases a little more. The next step is to diversify. Different classes of cloud can accommodate different security levels. Amoroso went on the suggest that there is a need for a virtual security service because security should be in that virtual component. His company is building orbital security, which means cloud services in different orbits that are better than today's perimeter defenses. "I think this is a vision of where we are headed," Amoroso said. Throughout his presentation Amoroso suggested that people might be upset by what he had to say, but that they have to take steps to adjust security one way or the other. He also advocated decentralizing telecommunications and reconnecting carriers with customers. Currently, companies actually are prohibited from stopping some cyber attacks because of language in contract agreements or laws. Dr. Pradeep Sindhu, vice chairman, chief technology officer and founder of Juniper Networks, took time during his presentation to define cloud. Earlier in the day, Gen. Hawkins alluded to the problem of multiple definitions associated with the term. Sindhu stated that a simple definition is the delivery of information services from large-scale computing centers to users over the networks anytime, anywhere. "These users aren't necessarily people," Sindhu added, explaining that machines could be users. Though cloud factored into many of today's discussions, other topics also were brought up. Gen. Hawkins addressed several technology needs in his speech. Commanders need to see with clarity, meaning not only that they have more bandwidth, but that they can see where red and blue forces are at any given moment. The same principle also applied to logistics personnel needing to access supply data. The general discussed how operators want immediate information, not after a lag of minutes. Another issue is network assurance meaning that everyone who should have access to the network can connect when they need. Other areas of focus are providing the ability for the military to communicate with certainty, navigate with accuracy and strike with precision. These strikes can be kinetic or nonkinetic. As an example of the latter, Gen. Hawkins talked about the rescue of American Jessica Buchanan from Somalia by Navy SEALs earlier this year. They were able to make the precision extraction in part through the use of full-motion video. The general rounded out his example by sharing what the Danish man rescued at the same time said of his decisions. He knew that if anyone would be rescued that person would be an American, so he decided to stick by Buchanan. "He understood strike with precision," Gen. Hawkins said.

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