The Cyber Edge

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March 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
 archy 13/Shutterstock

The vulnerabilities of machine learning models open the door for deceit, giving malicious operators the opportunity to interfere with the calculations or decision making of machine learning systems. Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory, specializing in adversarial machine learning, are working to strengthen defenses and advance this aspect of artificial intelligence.

March 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The Army is using current operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and partnering with U.S. Cyber Command and the Army Cyber Command, to operationalize information into current cyber operations.

As the U.S. Army continues to evolve its newest warfighting domain, the cyber domain, information plays a key role. The service is working to incorporate information capabilities along with intelligence, electronic warfare, cyber and space, as well as with traditional fire capabilities.

In December, the Army released a doctrine guiding multidomain operations through 2028. The policy acknowledges that U.S. adversaries are contesting all domains, and that in the information environment American dominance is not guaranteed.

March 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The Air Combat Command, which is taking the lead for cyber operations from the Air Force Space Command, is building a new division that integrates cyber, intelligence, electronic warfare and information warfare capabilities. Artist’s depiction of a digitized F-22 based on a U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth.

The newly created Cyber and Non-Kinetic Operations Division within the Air Combat Command is expected to reach full strength this summer. The new organization integrates multiple missions, including cyber, electronic warfare, intelligence and information warfare.

March 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Some fingerprint authentication systems, such as those on mobile devices, use only a partial print that is not as unique as an entire print and leaves the technology vulnerable to a synthetic fingerprint hack.  Shutterstock

Some people worry that artificial intelligence will steal their jobs, but machine learning algorithms now generate images of fake fingerprints that match the prints of one in five people on the planet. Other biometric identification systems, such as face and iris recognition, may also be vulnerable. The capability puts the mobile device industry on notice that current biometric authentication systems may not be adequate for securing cell phones and other devices.

February 15, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Leaders for all three maritime services—the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard—participate in a town hall forum at West 2019. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The maritime services continue to maintain a balance between cyber and kinetic weapons even while engaged in a daily cyber conflict.

Leaders for all three maritime services—the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard—participated in a town hall forum during the AFCEA-USNI West 2019 Conference in San Diego, and they agreed that cyber conflict rages on.

“If you’re asking me if I think we’re at war, I think I’d say yes,” Gen. Robert Neller, USMC, Marine Corps commandant, told one audience member. “We’re at war right now in cyberspace. We’ve been at war for maybe a decade. They’re pouring oil over the castle walls every day.”

February 15, 2019
By George I. Seffers
A West 2019 panel discusses combat operations in the cyber realm. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The United States is fully engaged in combat operations in the cyber realm, according to a panel of military officials at the AFCEA-USNI West conference in San Diego.

Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), president and CEO of AFCEA International, who served as moderator on the panel, kicked off the discussion saying the nation is in “Phase III” in the information domain. Phase III refers to the multiple stages of war. According to GlobalSecurity.org, the phases include: halting an invasion, force buildup and deployment, counteroffensive or counterattack, and ensuring postwar stability.

February 13, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall, USMC, deputy principal cyber advisor, Office of the Secretary of Defense, speaks at the National Security Technology Forum and Exposition in San Diego. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Last year the U.S. Defense Department released a cyber strategy and followed that with posture review that identified more than 90 gaps in cybersecurity capabilities, many of which were determined to be critical shortcomings. This year, officials expect to begin implementing the strategy, beginning with several priority areas involving endpoint management, network visibility, user authentication and cyber force development, according to Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall, USMC, deputy principal cyber advisor, Office of the Secretary of Defense.

February 6, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Industry and military officials see both silver linings and gray skies in the Pentagon's cloud computing strategy. Credit: Ivan Cholakov and jannoon0281/Shutterstock, edited by Chris D'Elia

The cloud strategy document released this week by the U.S. Defense Department is drawing mixed reactions from industry and military officials. Experts welcome the strategy as an important step toward modernizing the department’s infrastructure but also express some concerns and note that many questions remain.

February 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Two U.S. Navy sailors monitor data onboard the USS Jason Dunham during a 6th Fleet area operation. The Naval Information Forces command is consolidating information warfare activities and training to standardize all aspects of the domain across the Navy. U.S. Navy photo

The U.S. Navy is consolidating its information warfare efforts to ensure effective operations across the breadth of the fleet and its ashore assets. This endeavor ties together training, doctrine and equipping as new threats and technologies rapidly change the nature of the information operations realm.

February 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The Coast Guard faces bandwidth challenges, and the service is looking at how to optimize applications on smaller ships.

The U.S. Coast Guard is pursuing digital solutions to support its unique set of military, law enforcement, humanitarian, regulatory and diplomatic responsibilities. It is no small feat to provide information technology to its workforce of 87,570, as well as to its cutters, boats, and aircraft that move along the coastline and inland waterways protecting the United States.

February 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The USS Detroit (LCS 7) conducts acceptance trials, the last significant milestone before delivery to the Navy, in 2016. The Information Warfare Research Project was inspired in part by the National Shipbuilding Research Program initiated in 1971.

Months after initiating a project to research and rapidly field information warfare-related technologies, the U.S. Navy has expanded the effort servicewide and expects to field the first system by the end of fiscal year 2019.

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Systems Center Atlantic announced last summer the formation of an industry consortium for the Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP). The intent is to leverage the flexible contracting platform known as other transaction authority (OTA) to rapidly develop and deploy technologies.

February 1, 2019
By Capt. Ryan Robinson, USA
Sgt. Kevin Nguyen, USA, a team leader in the 50th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, tests the connection of a Tampa Microwave satellite dish in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. A team of soldiers from the 50th ESB is testing the mobility and capabilities of their new equipment in locations all over the world. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Adam Parent, USA

A broad misconception is that the U.S. Army Signal Corps is a single-function organization, but its responsibilities have grown over time, and it is now a vital element of communications support that applies technology to ensure mission success. As much as the Army performs maneuver operations on land, it also performs signal offensive, defensive and stability operations in the cyber domain.

The Army’s Signal officers are expected to perform duties well beyond communications support. Signal organizations are the nexus of cyber and electronic warfare activities.

February 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
When pursuing information technology solutions, the Coast Guard has to be “risk aware” in order to have the tools needed to support its unique set of military, law enforcement, humanitarian, regulatory and diplomatic responsibilities, says Rear Adm. David Dermanelian, USCG, assistant commandant for C4IT (CG-6); and commander, Coast Guard Cyber Command.

Two years’ experience at the U.S. Cyber Command has shaped U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Dermanelian’s perspective as he implements, as commander, the Coast Guard Cyber Command’s three main missions: (1) defending the Coast Guard’s portion of the Department of Defense Information Network, or DODIN; (2) protecting the maritime transportation sector; and (3) enabling cyber operations. The admiral is dual hatted as the assistant commandant for command, control, communications, computers and information technology/CG-6 as well as being the commander of the Coast Guard Cyber Command.

January 29, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, released today the intelligence community’s annual threat assessment, which lists cyber, artificial intelligence and weapons of mass destruction as some of the top technological threats. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

The United States faces a “toxic mix of threats,” Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence, testified today before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence while unveiling the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

January 28, 2019
By Dave Mihelcic
When it comes to IT modernization, agencies often set their sights on adopting next-generation technology, but cybersecurity must be a priority. Credit: PIRO4D/Pixabay

More than a year has passed since the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act was signed into law, cementing the establishment of a capital fund for agencies to support their special IT projects. The MGT Act prompted defense and intelligence agencies to accelerate the replacement of legacy systems with innovative and automated technologies, especially as they explore new ways to mitigate security risks like those experienced all too often by their private sector counterparts.

January 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The cyber threat offers challenges unique to this moment in history, but the cyber policy, strategy and legislation stars are aligning to counter the threat. Credit: insspirito/Pixabay

The United States faces a threat unlike any in its history. The cyber threat zips around the world at blinding speeds and continually transforms. It can neutralize billion-dollar weapon systems and leave entire cities in the dark. It also can be wielded by superpowers, smaller governments or criminal organizations. At the same time, however, legislation, strategies, policies, authorities and a vigorous spirit of cooperation across government and the international community are all aligning to meet that threat.

January 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Thirteen C-17 Globemaster III aircraft fly over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia during low-level tactical training. U.S. Transportation Command, which mobilizes troops and equipment around the world, is moving its cyber and command and control systems to a commercial cloud environment.  U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey, USAF

The U.S. Transportation Command was the first U.S. Defense Department organization to begin moving its cyber capabilities, along with command and control applications, to a commercial cloud environment. More than a year later, the unified command is making strides in transferring its unclassified systems and is sharing lessons learned that will make the path to cloud usage smoother for others to follow.

January 1, 2019
By David Sheets
Future Army aviation systems will need to be able to operate against adversaries with advanced capabilities even in a contested airspace. Embedded systems need to be designed with cybersecurity in mind and may require some size, weight and power tradeoffs. U.S. Army graphic by Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center VizLab

Embedded systems are emerging as the latest challenge in the drive to secure deployed U.S. military technologies, including those residing within weapons and flight controllers. Because they are deeply entrenched inside critical hardware, these systems can be tricky to safeguard, so cybersecurity and cyber resiliency must be considered at the beginning of the design and architecture process. And although upgrades can boost embedded systems’ cybersecurity, system operators must determine when the potential pitfalls of doing so outweigh the benefits.

January 1, 2019
By Rand Waltzman
The ability to create a digital alter ego would put control of sharing personal information in an individual’s hand. Artificial intelligence within the device also would warn an owner when data is likely disinformation aimed at influencing behavior. Credit: sdecoret/Shutterstock.com

Up until the digital age, wars involved a limited number of combatants with clear identities battling within distinct boundaries visible on a map. These conflicts ended either with a victor or as a stalemate. But today’s information warfare does not fit this traditional model. Instead, it comprises an unlimited number of potential combatants, many with hidden identities and agendas.

Cyberspace is a theater of operations that is nowhere and everywhere. Within this domain, information warfare will not and in fact cannot come to any conclusion. This conflict closely resembles an incurable disease that can be managed so the patient can lead a productive life but is never completely cured.

January 1, 2019
By Nicola Whiting
The Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real Time, developed at San Diego State University, can detect changes in physiology and behavior during interviews with travelers. Photo by Aaron Elkins

Artificial intelligence can analyze vast amounts of information, identifying patterns and anomalies at a speed and scale beyond human capacity. To make it an invaluable part of defense, the goal will be to create cybersecurity systems that can anticipate national security threats. Once systems can automatically reconfigure themselves and their security controls to prevent any potential breaches, the next step will be to move to machines with the power to make their own decisions.

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