The Cyber Edge

The Cyber Edge Home Page

July 15, 2019
By Noah Schiffman
The National Security Agency is not to blame for the recent ransomware attack on the city of Baltimore, says Noah Schiffman, KRB chief technology adviser. Credit: Shutterstock/Stephen Finn

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.

July 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Servicemen participate in a cyber warrior exercise overseas. The U.S. Army’s program executive officer for enterprise information systems (PEO EIS) is striving to speed new software into cyber systems while maintaining effective operations. U.S. Army Reserve photo

The U.S. Army is building a tighter relationship with industry to tap commercial expertise and avoid long procurement delays that often render new information technologies obsolete before they are fielded.

At the heart of this effort is Cherie A. Smith, program executive officer for enterprise information systems (PEO EIS), U.S. Army. After she assumed her position last year, Smith relates, she focused on making promises and seeking help. Since then, she has emphasized a shared relationship with industry.

July 1, 2019
By Kyle Aldrich
Looking Glass stock

Global, asymmetrical threats now dominate attacks on nations and businesses alike, and the enemy is not always immediately knowable, identifiable or even seen. These realities are forcing leaders to invest more resources into analytics, as well as intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and other 21st century responses to cyber bombardments today.

July 1, 2019
By Chris Nissen
Bill Bickert, assistant commander for supply chain management policy and performance, Naval Supply Systems Command, visits the command’s Fleet Logistics Center–Jacksonville, Florida, headquarters. Supply chain monitoring software is useful; however, ensuring suppliers are providing clean components is crucially important as well. Photo by Carol Williams

Adversaries are exploiting the inherent vulnerabilities of U.S. military supply chains that involve tens of thousands of private sector providers from all over the globe. Attack operations include stealing valuable technical data; striking critical infrastructure, manufacturing and weapon systems control systems; corrupting the quality and assurance across a broad range of product types and categories; and manipulating software to access connected systems and to degrade systems operation integrity.

July 1, 2019
By Chief Warrant Officer 4 Judy M. Esquibel, USA
Maj. Gen John C. Harris Jr., ANG (c), the adjutant general, Ohio National Guard, observes training while the Cyber Mission Assurance Team (CMAT) conducts network assessments during exercise week of Cyber Shield 19 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. The National Guard is standing up the teams to help secure the critical infrastructure that services U.S. Defense Department installations. U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. George B. Davis

As emerging technologies and capabilities permeate and dominate the military and critical infrastructure, a different skill set is required to secure the increasingly complex cyberspace realm. The Internet of Things will be both an asset and a liability in the future when the military incorporates it into operations, and urban environments will complicate these efforts.

Cyber warfare continues to evolve with ever-changing innovation and technology, increasing critical infrastructure defense. In addition, with the onset of smart cities, the U.S. military in general, and the U.S. Army in particular, is exploring gaps in training and education related to operating in dense, super-connected urban areas.

June 19, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The Missouri Cyber Team, a part of the National Guard, developed RockNSM an open source cybersecurity system. Now, they are building a nonprofit organization to help share that system with others. Credit: Missouri National Guard Cyber Team

Members of the Missouri National Guard Cyber Team are launching a nonprofit organization to share RockNSM, a system initially built by cyber warriors for cyber warriors.

RockNSM is a network security monitoring platform that uses open source technologies, such as CentOS, which is an operating system derived from the RedHat enterprise-level open source system. RockNSM formed the basis for a Task Force Echo network anomaly detection system used for real-world cyber operations.

May 31, 2109
By Maryann Lawlor
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are still technically in their infancy. Both show promise in the military and government arenas, but experts still have many questions.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques could help information and network defenders recognize patterns of potential attackers so their next moves can be proactively blocked. In addition, cyber tools enhanced with these capabilities could provide a much more detailed picture of the cyber battlefield and increase the potential of success in a cyber campaign. This knowledge would complement the kinetic battlefield and could permit war planners to choose the appropriate mix of cyber and kinetic operations.

June 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Cyber warriors with the National Guard are sometimes similar to colonial-era militiamen, fighting with whatever technological weapons they have at home or building the tools they need. Alexander Herasymchot/Shutterstock and U.S. Defense Department courtesy photo

National Guard members conducting cyber operations found themselves poorly equipped to meet some of the real-world challenges they faced, so they banded together and built the system they needed on a shoestring budget. That system detects anomalous behavior on the network, reduces the number of analysts and enriches network data provided to data scientists.

June 1, 2019
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA
Credit: Shuttersotck/metamorworks

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.

May 16, 2019
By George I. Seffers
From l-r, Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL editor in chief, moderates a TechNet Cyber luncheon plenary with speakers Tony Montemarano, DISA executive deputy director, and Jeffrey Jones, executive director, JFHQ-DODIN. Photo by Michael Carpenter

If cyber is the ultimate team sport, as many in the U.S. Defense Department like to say, then artificial intelligence (AI) would likely be the number one draft pick for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).

Anthony “Tony” Montemarano, DISA’s executive deputy director, stressed the importance of AI during a luncheon plenary on the final day of the AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore. “We’ve heard about it time and again. Artificial intelligence is probably the most significant technology we have to come to grips with.”

May 16, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Panelists at TechNet Cyber discuss the cyber workforce and the need for continuous education. Phoot by Michael Carpenter

Personnel working in cyber must continually look for opportunities to learn, say cyber professionals from across government.

During a morning panel discussion on the final day of the AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore, high-ranking officials from the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency discussed a wide range of issues concerning the cyber workforce today and tomorrow.

May 14, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Vice Adm.Nancy A. Norton, DISA director and commander of the JFHQ-DODIN, addresses the audience at TechNet Cyber. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is increasing its focus on innovation and rapid acquisition through the use of other transactional authority (OTA) contracts.

Organizations across the Department of Defense and military services have begun using OTA contracts, which help cut much of the time and costs of developing technologies and acquiring systems. They also allow the military to work more closely with smaller, more agile startups and small businesses that may have creative products but don’t traditionally work with the government.

May 14, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Anthony “Tony” Montemarano, DISA executive deputy director, speaks about workforce challenges at TechNet Cyber. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is challenged with a significant personnel shortage, including information technology, spectrum and cybersecurity experts.

Vice Adm. Nancy A. Norton, DISA director and commander of the Joint Forces Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN), told the audience at the AFCEA TechNet Cyber 2019 conference in Baltimore that the agency is seeking to hire personnel in a number of areas.

May 14, 2019
Kimberly Underwood
Lawmakers have created a new organization, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, to tackle a national cybersecurity policy.

Legislators on Capitol Hill have formed the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, known as the CSC, which will put together a comprehensive U.S. cyber policy. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who is co-chairing the new organization with Rep. Michael Gallagher (R-Wisc.), announced the formation of the Geneva Convention-type commission in a call with reporters on May 13. The establishment of the commission was outlined in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Sen. King said.

May 7, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The FBI’s Cyber Division is strengthening its investigative capabilities to battle more and more digital-based crimes from global adversaries, says Amy Hess, executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. Credit: Atlantic Council/Image Link

The FBI has a full plate: fighting public corruption, organized and white-collar crime and domestic and foreign terrorism; solving violent crimes; protecting civil rights; neutralizing national security threats, espionage and counterintelligence; and mitigating threats of weapons of mass destruction, among other responsibilities. And one part of the bureau is growing to protect the nation against cyber threats.

May 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director, DISA, and commander, Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Network, speaks at West. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The Defense Information Systems Agency is a combat support agency, and as such, is charged with supplying key information technology to warfighters and civilians around the globe. The agency provides voice, data, video, spectrum, computing and other communication capabilities to combatant commands, the Joint Staff, the services, offices and agencies in Department of Defense and the intelligence community.

May 1, 2019
By Julianne Simpson
Mr.B-king/Shutterstock

The cybersecurity workforce gap is real, and it’s growing. Based on a state-by-state analysis on CompTIA’s cyberstates.org, there are currently 320,000 open cyber jobs in the United States. By 2022, the projected shortage of cybersecurity professionals worldwide will reach 1.8 million, according to the Center for Cyber Safety and Education.

May 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Schooling at an early age, an appeal to patriotism and a government program that trades tuition support for public sector work may be necessary to produce the skilled cyber professionals so badly needed across the spectrum of technology jobs in the United States. While the current number of cyber workers is woefully insufficient, the demand increases. For government, the cyber threat escalates daily. For industry, cyber applications proliferate constantly.

May 1, 2019
By Janel Nelson
To attract more cybersecurity professionals into the teaching profession, school systems must change their qualifications requirements and revise recertification timelines. Credit: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Recruiting and maintaining a cybersecurity workforce is a complicated challenge for the government. According to the Information System Security Certification Consortium, 85 percent of cybersecurity professionals would consider leaving their current jobs. Information technologists do not need to search for positions that are exciting, respect their expertise, help them become more marketable and pay well because as many as 18 percent of non-active job seekers are contacted daily by employers seeking them out.

May 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
With about 300,000 vacant cybersecurity positions in the United States, some experts recommend the creation of a civilian cyber corps of volunteers who could be called to take action when needed. Credit: BeeBright/Shutterstock

Some military and civilian experts are calling on the United States to create a civilian cyber corps to help fill the gap in cybersecurity expertise in times of need. Such a corps could enhance state and local emergency response efforts, help protect Defense Department networks and other critical infrastructure or combat social media information warfare campaigns.

Pages