DISA 2020

September 21, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The Defense Information Systems Agency is finishing its zero trust architecture to bring advances in security and data availability to warfighters. Credit: DISA

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.

September 3, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
DISA contracting officials Carlen Capenos, director, Office of Small Business Programs (top right) and Douglas Packard, Procurement Services executive (bottom right) speak with SIGNAL Magazine editor Robert K. Ackerman during a September 2 webinar. The officials advised companies submitting proposals to take the time to understand DISA's role in the military, how it supports warfighters and how the agency purchases goods and services. Credit: DISA

The Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, is a combat support agency, providing and operating key command and control, information, communication, and computing technologies and capabilities for joint warfighters, national leaders, and other mission and coalition partners across the Defense Department. To provide such support over a full spectrum of military operations, the agency relies on its staff of more than 8,000 military and civilian employees.

To achieve its mission, DISA also relies heavily on contractor support, explained Douglas Packard, Procurement Services executive at the agency.

August 19, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Lori Ramirez, DISA’s director, workforce services and development, discusses the agency's efforts to recruit talented personnel by using virtual meeting and information sharing tools during the pandemic and beyond.

The Defense Information Systems Agency is searching for talented personnel in a broad array of career fields, including information technology, science and engineering, program and project management, contracting and acquisition and human resources—and the effort to recruit those personnel virtually is gaining steam.

July 29, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The Defense Information Systems Agency, located at Fort Meade, is spearheading a multiyear, comprehensive information technology advancement effort, which runs through fiscal year 2025 and will bring improved network capabilities, connectivity, cybersecurity and user assistance. Credit: DOD photo by Thomas L. Burton

The Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, is making progress on an important modernization project, despite the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In November, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist designated DISA to lead the Fourth Estate Network Optimization Program. The multiyear, comprehensive information technology advancement effort, which runs through fiscal year 2025 will bring improved network capabilities, connectivity, cybersecurity and user assistance.  

July 17, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Carlen Capenos, director, Office of Small Business Programs at DISA, participates in a virtual event. DISA moved quickly into telework based on ongoing operations and preparations already in place when the pandemic struck. Credit: DISA

In response to the pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has incorporated changes into its operations that are likely to remain in place after the virus has passed into memory. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the agency to adopt new procedures that have shown their worth for efficiency and employee quality of life.

Some of these measures, such as telework, already were in place to a limited degree. Others, such as virtual meetings, became the rule rather than the exception that they were originally. Other changes made of necessity have been adopted for regular use.

July 15, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Among an array of activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Command supported the needs of the U.S. Navy ships Comfort and Mercy. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Bill Mesta/Released

In response to the teleworking boom resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) dramatically increased network capacity, expanded access to virtual private networks and adopted new online collaboration tools, allowing thousands of Defense Department personnel to safely and securely work from home.  

Addressing the audience tuning into the Army’s 2020 Signal Conference, which is sponsored by AFCEA and streamed online, Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, the agency’s director, reported that the agency never shut down and never stopped working during the ongoing pandemic.

July 15, 2020
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Defense Department officials intend to complete an initial zero trust architecture by year's end to improve cybersecurity, according to Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director, Defense Information Systems Agency.

The U.S. Defense Department by the end of the calendar year will release an initial zero trust architecture to improve cybersecurity across the department, says Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director, Defense Information Systems Agency, and commander, Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network.

Norton’s agency, commonly known as DISA, is working with the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense (DOD) chief information officer and others on what she calls an initial “reference” architecture for zero trust, which essentially ensures every person wanting to use the DOD Information Network, or DODIN, is identified and every device trying to connect is authenticated.

July 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Credit: DR MANAGER/Shutterstock

Network data collection, analysis and sharing are core to cyber defense, and Tinisha McMillan is on a mission to improve all three.

As division chief for the Cyber Situational Awareness and NetOps Division within the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), McMillan is responsible for building and providing cyber analytics and tools to enhance the department’s cyber information sharing to protect the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN).

June 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
The Government Accountability Office (GAO), which sits atop the federal contracting process, often has rules allowing flexibility in contracts that can be of assistance to small businesses confronting challenges during the COVID-19 shutdown.

The COVID-19 coronavirus has been a mixed bag for small business contractors working with the federal government. Some are facing unique challenges as they try to fulfill their contractual obligations amid site shutdowns, while others are able to meet their obligations relatively seamlessly under contracts designed for telework.

Small business problems range from workers’ compensation details to meeting contractual specifications when not allowed to work on government sites. These problems may be the tip of the iceberg as the government moves forward in the post-COVID-19 era, experts say.

May 20, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Network data gains value for the Defense Department amidst an increase in attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: solarseven/Shutterstock

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique challenge for the Defense Department. More people are working remotely, networks are busier than ever and hackers from around the world seek to take advantage, driving up demand for more situational awareness data to keep those networks safe. And the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) continues to deliver that data under the most unusual of circumstances.

May 18, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The Defense Information Systems Agency’s Cyberspace Operations Directorate is relying on a so-called battle drill concept, pulling in teams of experts to troubleshoot and fix hard-to-solve communications challenges. Credit: Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff

The Cyberspace Operations Directorate within the Defense Information Systems Agency is employing a so-called battle drill concept to ensure communications and data are available to the combatant commanders, senior leaders or other key officials when required. The directorate is responsible for the global flow of information, especially in support of the U.S. military’s 11 combatant commands and other key Defense Department operations. The battle drill model collectively pulls together the resources needed to tackle complex communication and data issues.

May 13, 2020
By Julianne Simpson
Credit: Shutterstock/metamorworks

By using multiple lines of effort, including college and university engagement, social media, virtual events, military outreach and partnerships, the Defense Information Systems Agency is taking a multidimensional approach to the development and growth of its cybersecurity workforce.

According to the (ISC)² 2019 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 145 percent to meet the demand for skilled cybersecurity talent. In the United States, it needs to grow by 62 percent. “It’s a big task,” the report said.