A delayed focus on IT modernization could create a gap between frequent high-impact cyber breaches and the U.S. Department of the Navy’s preparedness to address them. From the SolarWinds hack to ransomware, new cyber threats emerge almost weekly. Advances in technology to help defend against such threats occur so quickly that current acquisition and infrastructure programs cannot keep pace.
There’s little doubt that thanks to the influx of new government regulations around privacy and data security, requirements have become the primary area of focus for many defense industrial base and General Services Administration contractors.
Cybersecurity program managers are facing the dilemma of appropriately balancing compliance with threat tracking and mitigation. Today, amidst the ever-growing problem of data breaches, organizations are investing in protection. But simply complying with security and privacy standards seldom means systems and data are automatically secure.
The 35th annual AFCEA TechNet Indo-Pacific conference featured a panel with top female leaders addressing cybersecurity workforce issues. Having ever-present cybersecurity training, reaching a younger audience on their level and leveraging women who may be seeking a second career are all ways to close the cybersecurity workforce gaps, the leaders said.
The personnel within the Realities Lab at the Army Cyber Institute located at West Point explore every aspect of extended reality technologies, developing new tools, conducting studies and asking the hard questions.
The Realities Lab is dedicated to research in what is becoming known as extended reality, or XR, a term that includes augmented, virtual and mixed reality. Extended reality technologies offer a wide range of military uses, including realistic training available virtually anywhere, modeling and simulation for weapon system development, and actual situational awareness on the battlefield.
The U.S. military is using open architecture platforms on a greater scale, deploying interchangeable hardware and software systems to its major weapon programs. In particular, the Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command, known as NAVAIR, and its Program Executive Office, Aviation Common Systems and Commercial Services, are increasingly using flexible “systems of systems” in many of its major aviation programs. The application of open architecture is allowing the Navy—and the Defense Department—to consolidate common resources, decrease risk, reuse software, enhance maintenance abilities, reduce costs and increase tactical options.
The U.S. Cyber Command, at the invitation of foreign governments, sends teams of cyber warriors overseas to aid in the search for, analysis of and protection against adversaries conducting cyber warfare.
While U.S. forces frequently deploy overseas, this is a different kind of military support. Instead of taking tanks, helicopters and ships, the U.S. military sends its cyber warriors, armed with their adroit offensive and defensive skills and digital tools.
Stood up last October—the Analysis and Resilience Center for Systemic Risk (ARC), a nonprofit, Arlington-Virginia-based organization—helps to protect the nation’s infrastructure by assessing the endemic cybersecurity risks to the critical energy, financial and other private sectors. A 2013 executive order identified some assets—on which the U.S. government relies but reside in the private sector—that if compromised by cyber attack could have a catastrophic impact on national security.
Recent cyber attacks against critical infrastructure such as the attack on Colonial Pipeline Co. has put cybersecurity in the spotlight.
But combating cyber adversaries is a broad area requiring significant amounts of human intelligence and a deep technical expertise to identify them, Gene Yoo, CEO of Resecurity Inc., told SIGNAL Magazine Editor-in-Chief Robert K. Ackerman during a SIGNAL Media Executive Video interview.
Adversaries come in different types, he added, noting that these range from part-time hacktivists to skilled professionals working for criminal organizations or state intelligence agencies.
Cyber education and training should begin not in college, not in secondary school, not in middle school, not in elementary school, but at home as soon as children are able to view or use social media, say some experts. This training is important not just to lay the groundwork for future cybersecurity professionals in a field starved for expertise, but also to instill good cyber hygiene habits that can be passed on to other family members.
The U.S. Air Force’s 67th Cyberspace Wing has been busy. The wing operationally acts as the execution arm of Air Forces Cyber, performing comprehensive cyber operations on a service and nation level. The wing has successfully proven its ability to operationalize on top of its duties to organize, train and equip, reported Col. Jeffrey Phillips, USAF, wing commander. The wing took action against Russia’s information warfare campaign over the last year, responded to the SolarWinds compromise and helped ensure the digital security of the 2020 election, Col. Phillips said during a May 18 presentation to the AFCEA Alamo Chapter.
As more federal agencies and businesses move to the cloud, managing their security needs in this new environment becomes critical. One way to do this is to implement zero-trust architectures as part of an identity cloud environment, said Sean Frazier, federal chief security officer at Okta Inc.
Zero-trust architecture, where it is assumed that the network is or will be compromised, is the latest phase of security development. This is important as the Defense Department modernizes its cloud-based systems under constant pressure from foreign cyber attacks.
The U.S. Navy and Marines Corps are harnessing virtual platforms and advanced methods to teach cyber and communications skills. In some cases, the services are looking to a “blended model” of instruction from both industry and military cyber experts that produces multitudes of trained personnel for a single investment. Additionally, to create a powerful cyber force, technical training needs to be as realistic as possible, with high-fidelity cyber training ranges that can meet high standards for mission rehearsals and training on a daily basis and can be accessed anywhere in the world.
The U.S. Army is creating a pilot program for a limited number of Signal Warrant Officers to build certain skills that the service is identifying as being crucial for the future digital battlefield. The program, currently being developed by the Army’s Cyber Center of Excellence (CCoE) at Fort Gordon, Georgia, will feature an online training platform for soldiers to access on-demand education when needed to support future signal, cyber and electronic warfare operations.
The U.S. Army is girding for battle in cyberspace by assembling a skilled force that it hopes will make the difference in the event of a conflict, its cyber commander stated. This force aims to be the decisive factor in any conflict in that domain.
The Army cyber workforce was the focus of the opening session for episode three of the TechNet Augusta Virtual Solutions Series, being held May 18-19. Delivering the opening keynote was Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, USA, commander, U.S. Army Cyber Command, who wasted no words in describing the importance of the human factor in cyber operations.
Every cyber warrior can be a cyber recruiter, according to panelists at the AFCEA TechNet Augusta Virtual Event Series.
The United States faces a severe shortage in cyber personnel and in students willing to enter the cyber workforce. That shortage is even more acute in the government and the military, where talented personnel are often recruited by industry for higher pay and other incentives.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, the nation’s lead federal agency for protecting government networks and critical infrastructure against cybersecurity threats, reminded agencies and the private sector not to succumb to paying ransoms in cyber attacks and to take much greater steps to shore up any vulnerabilities. “As last week’s ransomware attack against the Colonial Pipeline and recent intrusions impacting federal agencies demonstrate, our nation faces constant cyber threats from nation states and criminal groups alike,” said Brandon Wales, CISA’s acting director in a May 13 statement.
Development of a new federal service academy, established to educate a robust digital civil servant workforce, is the recommendation of the AFCEA Cyber Committee in a recent white paper “Establishing a Federal Digital Service Academy.” In echoing the sentiments of various commissions and thought leaders over the past four years, the committee is calling on President Biden to sign an executive order and begin the process
In an effort to increase critical infrastructure cybersecurity and better protect federal networks, President Joseph Biden signed an executive order on May 12. It includes provisions to improve information sharing between industry and the U.S. government, overhaul federal cybersecurity standards, spur the further use of cloud computing and zero trust architecture, and mandate the use of multifactor authentication and encryption. Amongst other measures, the executive order establishes a Cybersecurity Safety Review Board that would dissect a significant cyber incident and make recommendations for action.
The massive cyber attack on the United States via information technology vendor SolarWinds continues to send shockwaves through the departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security as well as other agencies. Damage assessments are ongoing. If the U.S. government in general and Defense Department in particular are to successfully defend against attacks by well-funded, patient and highly motivated enemies, they will need to change their approach to defending their networks and systems.
Public safety agencies are seeking ways to reliably grant mission-critical information access to authorized users while also ensuring security and data integrity. Technical pilot projects sponsored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency demonstrated cross-domain federated identity, credential and access management for secure information sharing for first responders in Texas and Tennessee.
Before 1957, man had never placed a single object in space. Soon, tens of thousands of new artificial satellites will circle the Earth. Beyond a change in the sheer volume of satellites in space, the actors at center stage today are fundamentally different: a shift from humans and hardware to software and shoebox satellites.
A new space race is dawning. Luckily, the United States has an edge against competitors like China and Russia if it can keep it.
The recent wave of high-profile cyber attacks on federal government agencies and the businesses that support them has gotten organizations thinking about security. A key part of any organization’s security strategy is access management—determining who can access certain kinds of information and resources and when and/or where they can do so.
But determining where to start can often be delayed by indecision due to over-analysis and caution, explains Ross Johnson, director of federal sales for Thycotic Software Ltd. The first and most important thing an organization can do is to make the decision to take inventory of all their data assets.
Facing an unprecedented malicious cyber event, the Defense Information Systems Agency, known as DISA, and the Joint Force Headquarters Department of Defense Information Network, or JFHQ-DODIN, sprang into action, leaning on their respective round-the-clock operations, their supply chain management postures, and relying on its industry, Defense Department and government partnerships, leaders say.
Many federal government agencies are interested in improving their cybersecurity by moving to a zero trust architecture model. But such a move, while very beneficial to the organization, is a complex and involved process that requires some fundamental changes in how security and operations are approached, says Don Maclean, chief cybersecurity technologist for DLT Solutions.
Zero trust architecture is a cybersecurity concept that assumes a network is or will be compromised and takes steps to protect data at every potential point of access.
Cybersecurity in the federal government, especially for the Department of Defense, is a complex dance between agencies and commercial partners. To get things right, companies working with the government need to be adaptable and resilient in helping government customers meet their mission goals, said Dana Barnes, senior vice president of public sector at Palo Alto Networks.
From the virtual realm to zero gravity, China is posing a serious threat to U.S. national security that goes far beyond the Earth. With a strategic thrust designed to buttress and expand the reach of the Chinese Communist Party, the country is engaged in a long march for control that currently includes operations inside the United States as well as in orbit and beyond.
The U.S. Department of Defense is looking at additive manufacturing technologies to rapidly prototype and build equipment components and increasingly, to potentially make replacement parts in the field.
While additive manufacturing, the ability to build plastic and metal parts by depositing a fine spray of material, has been used by the aerospace and defense sectors for some time, the capability is now becoming more portable. One such project is the U.S. Marine Corps’ X-Fab effort, which uses a shipping container loaded with compact additive manufacturing equipment that can be shipped anywhere in the world to make replacement parts.
The revolutionary advantages offered by defense use of 5G technology could be undone if the United States doesn’t begin now to meet and overcome a set of challenges, said an expert from the National Security Agency (NSA). These challenges range from developing effective security measures to ensuring the supply chain is not contaminated by parts made by foreign adversaries.
Enlighten IT Consulting LLC, Linthicum Heights, Maryland, has been awarded a $66,294,372 firm-fixed-price contract to provide Enterprise Logging Ingest and Cyber Situational Awareness Refinery (ELICSAR) Big Data Platform (BDP) to provide Air Force enterprise data analytics and further development and deployment of ELICSAR in the unclassified, secret, and top secret domains. ELICSAR BDP is a government-owned, cloud-based platform that collects data and enables complex analytics to identify advanced cyber threats. Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, and is expected to be completed March 31, 2024. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition using AFWERX Commercial Solutions Opening authority.
The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Accreditation Body (CMMC-AB), the sole authoritative source for operationalizing CMMC assessments and training by the U.S. Defense Department, has announced the formation of a cybersecurity Industry Advisory Council’s (IAC).
The CMMC-AB IAC mission is to provide a unified voice as representatives of organizations seeking certification to provide to the Defense Department and the accreditation board feedback, input and recommendations for implementing the CMMC.
The national security community needs to prepare now for the possibility that U.S. adversaries could develop and deploy quantum computers, which would render useless most conventional encryption algorithms, says Adrian Stanger, senior cryptographic authority, Cybersecurity Directorate, National Security Agency (NSA).
The nature of military permanent change of station assignments can create gaps in the U.S. Defense Department’s protected posture to cyber assets. The current approach allows valuable institutional knowledge literally to walk out the door, often being replaced with inadequately prepared personnel walking in. This practice runs contrary to the Pentagon’s stated strategic goals that aim at building and maintaining a skilled workforce rather than solely acquiring new tools.
NATO is at risk of losing its technology edge because of emerging and disruptive technologies increasingly developed within the civil sector. The growth of peer competitors’ determination, especially China, and the decline of technology education in Western countries are eroding the advantage they once skillfully held.
To address this state of affairs, the organization’s defense ministers are examining a number of activities. As a part of this initiative, the NATO Industrial Advisory Group (NIAG) conducted a study to provide the industry view of the implications of emerging and disruptive technologies (EDTs) and Chinese advances in defense operations and military capability development.
The federal government has been taking zero trust more seriously. Although a significant part of it has yet to be implemented, some initial work has been completed with zero trust network access, yet the outside-in approach to zero trust and complexity remains. But the more important aspect of zero trust relates to application and workload connections, which is what attackers care about and is not being protected today.
This “other side” of zero trust and a host-based micro-segmentation approach will lead to greater security and will stop the lateral movement of malware. Constituting multiple pilot projects is the best way forward in the inside-out approach to zero trust.
U.S. Army officials expect soon to release a multidomain operations (MDO) posture statement that will complement both the new MDO vision document released by the Army Chief of Staff and the posture statement from U.S. Cyber Command.
The MDO posture statement will detail how the Army intends to achieve its MDO vision for 2035. It will be released soon, possibly as early as April, according to Army officials conducting a March 26 telephonic media roundtable.
The last year presented “unique challenges” to the military combatant command in charge of defending U.S. related interests in cyberspace. The three-year old U.S. Cyber Command, which plans and executes global cyberspace operations, activities and missions in regard to defending and advancing national interests, has spent the last year defending and mitigating against the continuing cyber threats from China, Russia, Iran and nonstate actors and criminals, reported Gen. Paul Nakasone, USA, commander, U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM); director, National Security Agency (NSA); and chief, Central Security Service (CSS); in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
With ransomware and malware attacks on the rise across the globe, leaders need to be positioned for incident response before a breach occurs. Most businesses are not prepared for the earth-splitting impact a ransomware attack will present to their organization. Many organizations are deploying the “HOPE” strategy against ransomware. They hope every day that they aren’t targeted, because they know a ransomware attack will present a monumental financial and organizational challenge. Commercial businesses have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to black hat hackers for the rights to the decryption key to restore their network. Ransomware can shut down computers and lock out users until they pay hackers a ransom.
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.
The U.S. Air Force will be flying in a different sort of cloud as it matures its information technology systems. Its Cloud One system will be at the heart of equipping everyone in the Air Force and the Space Force with access to vital information as it embraces multidomain operations.
Lauren Knausenberger, chief information officer, U.S. Air Force, described the future Air Force information environment at the AFCEA Rocky Mountain Chapter’s Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium being held March 8-11 both virtually and at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She reported that many elements will need to come to pass, including better cyber training, for this new enterprise information system to realize its full potential.
In the ever-growing and complexifying ecosystem of the Internet of Things (IoT), demand for connectivity is stronger than ever and only bound to intensify. Statista predicts that by 2025, there will be 38.6 billion devices connected to the internet, which will put even more pressure on organizations to monitor their infrastructures.
For system administrators, there are several obstacles to keeping pathways clear and the flow of data smooth. Here are a few of the most common roadblocks when it comes to IoT monitoring, as well as a few ways to overcome them.
Roadblock #1: Managing different interfaces for different devices
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS)-Hawaii is looking toward innovation, both in technology and in service, as it ramps up to meet the challenges posed in the region covered by the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). And these challenges have evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic, notes the head of the office.
Capt. Kurtis Mole, USN, commander, NSA/CSS Hawaii, addressed the opportunities NSA/CSS is seizing during his keynote address on the third day of TechNet Indo-Pacific, running virtually March 1-3. Capt. Mole defined the agency’s challenges against the backdrop of the vast Indo-Pacific region while noting its applicability worldwide.
The rise of the People’s Republic China as a peer competitor vying for superpower status has emerged as an important challenge for the United States. To confront this competition, policy and decision makers must preserve and extend U.S. global interests to deter China if necessary and work in the international system in which the United States plays a vital role.
The entire nation must engage in an informed debate about cybersecurity and how to stop the damage being inflicted by adversaries through cyberspace, says the director of intelligence for the U.S. Cyber Command. Brig. Gen. Matteo Martemucci, USAF, J-2 for the U.S. Cyber Command, says this debate must explore whether the roles played in cyber defense stay the way they are or change.
If all goes as planned, a major mobile cellphone carrier will ultimately adopt technology developed under the Defense Advanced Research Project’s Agency’s Open, Programmable, Secure 5G program. Doing so will allow the open-source, secure technology to proliferate as so-called Internet of Things technologies become more ubiquitous.
The U.S. Defense Department already is looking beyond its massive $600 million investment in 5G experiments announced in October. Plans include a second round of experiments and the potential for expanding efforts with other government agencies and with international partners.
The telecommunications industry is currently rolling out the fifth-generation wireless network known as 5G, which is bringing more bandwidth, lower latency, high-speed throughput, improved reliability and increased connectivity to mobile communications. Off of that advancing communications point will come 6G, the sixth iteration of the wireless network.
As a lead nation, Germany has been successfully designing and implementing the Federated Service Management and Control capability as part of the development of the NATO Federated Mission Network. Throughout the joint approach, NATO member states, partner nations Austria and Switzerland, the NATO Communications and Information Agency, the Allied Command Transformation and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, which are both NATO strategic commands, as well as Allied Command Operations have been continuously involved in its design and incremental implementation.
Today, the Defense Information Systems Agency’s new leader, Lt. Gen. Skinner, USAF, was promoted, and tomorrow, he will take on his new role. Gen. Skinner returns to the agency, known as DISA, this time at the helm. He is taking over from Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, the current director of DISA and the commander of the Joint Force Headquarters Department of Defense Information Networks (JFHQ-DODIN) as she retires after three years in the role.
The U.S. Army is applying its cyber expertise across the defense spectrum as it blends tactical and strategic capabilities while helping the departmentwide cyber mission. This ranges from operational activities to training, and the effort spans both defensive and offensive cyber missions.
Some of these points were explained in day 2 of the first episode in the TechNet Augusta Virtual Solutions Series, airing February 16-17. Col. John Transue Jr., USA, director, Army Capability Manager (ACM) Cyber, described how the separation between tactical and strategic capabilities is blurring as the Army applies elements of one to the other.