The Cyber Edge

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May 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Credit: Guayo Fuentes/Shutterstock

U.S. Navy personnel with advanced skills in information warfare may be ready to hit the decks and deploy across the fleet by year’s end.

Adding those adept information warriors to the fleet is a top priority for the commander of the Naval Information Warfighting Development Center (NIWDC), which was established about a year ago. Similar to other warfighting development centers, the NIWDC mission includes training and assessing forces in advanced tactics, techniques and procedures at the individual, unit, integrated or advanced and joint levels.

May 1, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
An Arkansas Air National Guard technical sergeant works in a cybersecurity incident response training exercise. The Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN) is expanding its reach into U.S. Defense Department networks and accelerating the pace of cyber defense as it confronts new challenges from adversaries.

The organization tasked with protecting U.S. Defense Department networks is looking to accelerate its ability to detect and respond to enemy cyber attacks. While detection and response are not new, they have assumed greater importance as cyber attacks are combined with kinetic operations throughout the battlespace.

May 1, 2018
By Synlethia Bagwell and Lt. Cameron Woods, USN
Lt. Steven McGhan, USN, demonstrates a gun-augmented reality system at Trident Warrior 2017. In support of the Navy’s Optimized Fleet Response Plan, the Naval Information Warfighting Development Center (NIWDC) uses live, virtual and constructive training capabilities like these to effectively train the fleet. Navy photo by Alan Antczak

The increased sophistication and unpredictability of adversaries’ cyber capabilities and tactics demands improvements in war-fighting readiness by revolutionizing how information warfare is executed in the U.S. Navy’s fleet. To address this challenge, the service is aligning and synchronizing efforts among its various communities and supporting multiple warfare areas with an information-packed warfighting model.

May 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Credit: JoeBakal/Shutterstock

One does not have to look too far beyond the headlines to see that the battle for world power is playing out in the information space. Free and open democratic societies increasingly are tested by rising autocratic countries employing high technology in information warfare.

For the United States to succeed in this battle, citizens, not just the government, need to be more discerning about information, experts say.

May 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
An electronic warfare specialist trains on the Versatile Radio Observation and Direction system at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Credit: Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, USA, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

After years of lagging behind competitors in the battle for electromagnetic spectrum dominance, the U.S. Army may be catching up with reinforcement from technology researchers. But it may be the application of technology rather than the systems themselves that truly gives the Army an edge.

Service leaders say they lost focus on electronic warfare and information warfare capabilities while preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where cutting-edge technologies were not a necessity. Now, they contend, the next war likely will be against a foe capable of formidable offense and defense in the electromagnetic domain.

May 1, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Marine uses a radio during a field exercise on the Japanese island of Okinawa. New mobile technologies emerging from industry will be essential for the U.S. military to maintain battlespace supremacy, and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is striving to incorporate them into the force.

Being able to pace technology is the top challenge facing the Defense Information Systems Agency, according to its director. This activity encompasses both positive pacing, in which the agency takes the lead in incorporating innovative capabilities, and negative pacing, where it responds to the constantly evolving technology-based threat.

Industry plays a significant role in both aspects of pacing. The private sector serves as the font of innovation for new information capabilities sought by agency customers. Similarly, industry must be the primary source of related technologies that help counter the growing threat posed by nation-state and independent adversaries.

April 25, 2018
By Maryann Lawlor
Credit: ChromaWise/Shutterstock

A bug bounty program worth a total of $10 million aims at acquiring and developing active cyber-defense capabilities for some of the most popular software programs for Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. The public program is offering payouts focusing on quality over quantity to identify and address some of the toughest problems.

April 24, 2018
By George DeLisle
The National Institute for Standards and Technology’s risk management framework can be applied to data as well as systems. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

Cybersecurity evolves daily to counter ever-present threats posed by criminals, nation states, insiders and others. To address the changing threat landscape, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) periodically updates its Risk Management Framework (RMF), a standards-based, security-by-design process that all IT systems within DOD agencies must meet.

April 11, 2018
By George I. Seffers
NIST researchers have developed a prototypical method for generating verifiably random numbers for quantum encryption. Credit: K. Irvine/NIST

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a method for generating numbers guaranteed to be random by quantum mechanics. Generating truly random numbers is one of the major challenges for quantum-based encryption and could mark a major leap in cybersecurity.

April 1, 2018
By Howard Miller and RADM Bill Leigher, USN, (Ret.)
One possible element of the Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE) as envisioned would include a collaborative cyber training virtual environment where cyber warriors could train in real-life scenarios and learn new skills to be ready for the next cyber attack.

When combatant commanders plan an attack on an enemy stronghold, they know exactly what to do, including which intelligence reports to consider, where to send the ground troops, when to call in an air strike and when to jam the enemy’s radar. But ask those same commanders to attack the enemy in cyberspace and the response will be far less defined.

April 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Some lawmakers are calling for more cyber protections.

Amid the political scuffles on Capitol Hill about immigration, health care and budget legislation to keep the federal government open, cybersecurity is not necessarily one of the highest policy-making priorities. This must change, some lawmakers say. Cyber attacks, already plentiful and disastrous, will only increase in frequency and scale over time. The United States needs more protections and measures, especially at the federal level, according to some legislators.

April 1, 2018
By Andy Cohen and Maj. James Twist, USA

Jack Finney’s science fiction classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers offered a frightening premise. In the novel, aliens in seed vessels descend to Earth, landing in a small California farming community. As the townsfolk sleep, these seeds replicate the earthlings and, by morning, replace them. The only discernible difference between the clones and their host bodies is that the clones lack emotion. In essence, the aliens have stolen the earthlings’ DNA, and the humans never saw it coming.

The idea of this happening is unimaginable—in the case of human bodies at least. However, one company replacing another company’s DNA then killing off the original entity is happening now in the invisible world of cyber.

April 2, 2018
By Bob Gourley and Jane Melia
Without truly random encryption, the Internet of Things will not be effectively secured. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

The Internet of Things (IoT) has security issues. The fundamental weakness is that it adds to the number of devices behind a network firewall that can be compromised. Not only do we need to safeguard our computers and smartphones, now we must worry about protecting our homes, vehicles, appliances, wearables and other IoT devices.

April 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division participates in a NATO exercise in Spain. The alliance is adding cyber warfare into its traditional defense operations.

Amid stunning digital attacks that have not only rocked countries around the globe but also targeted alliance forces, NATO is sharpening its resolve to serve as a cyber protector. A forthcoming Cyber Operations Center will incorporate cyber warfare into NATO’s defense operations. In addition, NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is boosting the organization’s cybersecurity-related research, exercises and instruction to meet the seemingly unending threats.

April 1, 2018
By George Duchak
Putting information on par with the other warfighting capabilities will greatly facilitate employment of the power of information and its integration with kinetic capabilities.

The U.S. Defense Department must move aggressively to better understand information warfare and its implications to national security. To propel the necessary next steps, the department must organize information resources not only to meet military cyberspace requirements but also to address how adversaries view U.S. cyber assets.

Although the nation has long dominated the communications and information systems landscape, past success makes it vulnerable in the future. Consequently, forces and the weapons platforms they rely on are increasingly susceptible to information attacks.

March 29, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The Army is learning lessons as it makes its way through cybersecurity vulnerability identification of its major weaponry, according to Col. Bryan Stephens (2nd from l), USA, director, Cyber Focal, Army System of Systems Engineering and Integration, at a recent AFCEA Aberdeen event and interview with SIGNAL Magazine.

It goes without saying that technology plays a key role in military operations. The concern nowadays, however, is if technology is appropriately hardened from a cybersecurity standpoint. For the Army, this means taking a close look at supply chain management, according to one Army leader.

The government has to be a savvy consumer amid a risky cybersecurity atmosphere. And companies need to be able to back up the products that they are offering the government, Col. Bryan Stephens, USA, director, Cyber Focal, Army System of Systems Engineering and Integration, told SIGNAL Magazine in a recent interview. 

March 14, 2018
By Maryann Lawlor
The DHS outlines capabilities that are ready to take the next step into the marketplace. Credit: ra2studio/Shutterstock

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate has released two publications, the 2018 Cyber Security Division Portfolio Guide and the 2018 Cyber Security Division Technology Guide, to help transition mature cybersecurity solutions to the marketplace.

March 8, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Ronald Pontius, deputy to the commanding general, U.S. Army Cyber Command and 2nd Army, speaks at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference.

U.S. military officials may be enjoying increased funding under the fiscal 2018 and 2019 budgets, but an Army general is warning that the 2020 budget could return to sequestration levels—and young soldiers on the battlefield will be the ones paying the price for a failure to plan ahead.

March 5, 2018
By Sam Cohen
U.S. adversaries are integrating cyber and electronic warfare. U.S. forces must do the same. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

To succeed in the battlespace of the future and to ensure combat superiority over peer adversaries, the U.S. military must be equipped with capabilities to defend information networks in cyberspace and to secure unimpeded access to the electromagnetic spectrum. Adversaries are developing cyber and electronic warfare capabilities to conduct information operations against U.S. systems that will likely threaten the speed and accuracy of military communications, intelligence and data sharing channels, while maliciously altering or stealing the information itself. These capabilities often have complementary effects, which means integrating cyber and electronic warfare could provide a stronger protection and attack capacity for U.S.

March 6, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, Army deputy chief of staff, G-2, speaks at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference.

Cloud computing, big data and cyber are among the capabilities that pose a major threat to U.S. forces, said Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, Army deputy chief of staff, G-2.

“If you’re a threat actor out there, probably a little bit of investment in these areas is going to go a long way to make life very difficult for your adversaries,” Gen. Berrier told the audience at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference in Springfield, Virginia.

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