Artificial intelligence is one of the most influential forces in information technology. It can help drive cars, fly unmanned aircraft and protect networks. But artificial intelligence also can be a dark force, one that adversaries use to learn new ways to hack systems, shut down networks and deny access to crucial information.
The Cyber Edge
The next-generation airborne missile control system being developed by the U.S. Air Force will take advantage of modern communications and electronics systems such as software-defined radios to provide a number of capabilities, including improved cybersecurity.
Part of the Office of Naval Research’s efforts in command, control, communications and computers is to provide key analytical tools to planners, analysts and commanders swamped by data. To that end, the office, known as the ONR, is conducting basic and applied research in applications that will cut maneuver planning time, expand access to data, enhance analytical processing and improve predictions. The tools are meant to improve decision making across antisubmarine warfare, integrated air and missile defense, electromagnetic maneuver warfare, and expeditionary and integrated fires missions.
The billions of bits and bytes that make government services, information sharing and even shopping easier also open the doors for adversaries to gather intelligence that aids their nefarious pursuits. AFCEA International’s Cyber Committee has published a white paper that describes several ways big data analytics can help cybersecurity analysts close those doors or at least shrink the gap and reduce vulnerabilities.
Mobile devices used by federal employees continue to be susceptible to malicious cyber attacks. Email accounts, stored documents, microphones and cameras on the devices still present avenues of entry for bad actors.
Complicating the matter are conflicting governmental compliance policies, misconceptions of security measures and naivety about the exact risks, a recent survey concluded. Many agencies are still ill equipped to handle these incidents. Moreover, even if policies are in place, employees do not always follow them, and intrusions still happen, according to the report, "Policies and Misconceptions: How Government Agencies are Handling Mobile Security in the Age of Breaches," prepared by San Francisco-based Lookout Inc.
Advances in automated cyber weapons are fueling the fires of war in cyberspace and enabling criminals and malicious nation-states to launch devastating attacks against thinly stretched human defenses. Allied forces must collaborate and deploy best-of-breed evaluation, validation and remediation technologies just to remain even in an escalating cyber arms race.
The U.S. Air Force is shifting its emphasis in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) away from platforms and toward data as it develops a new ISR strategy. Planners are aiming at a new approach that changes how ISR is undertaken and how it benefits decision makers and warfighters alike.
The new strategy is being built around a core philosophy: “We cannot continue to conduct ISR in the same old ways using the same old methods,” states Col. Johnson Rossow, USAF, Air Force A-2 chief of capabilities-based planning under the Future Warfare Directorate. “We need to be looking at … using old tools in new ways, or new tools in new ways.”
Within the next 12 months, a fledgling program at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will likely begin transitioning cybersecurity technologies to the finance sector in an effort to shore up the nation’s critical infrastructure. Technologies developed under the program ultimately could be made available to other sectors.
Europe is taking on several socio-technological initiatives, including developing a digital single market and tackling consumer financial services reform. Add the need to balance privacy concerns and safeguards across 28 member countries of the European Union, and it may seem like a tall order for policy makers to help strengthen information security.
Enter the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security, the European Union’s cybersecurity agency known as ENISA. The agency, founded in 2004, equips the European Union (EU) to prevent, detect and respond to cybersecurity problems.
Although universities can be part of larger cyber attacks as unwitting victims like any other organization or enterprise, the institutions are distinguished by a collegial nature that renders them vulnerable. Academia has a more open atmosphere and a mindset of research and collaboration, making universities an enticing cyber target even for adversaries such as nation-states
Understanding the cyber kill chain and disrupting it could effectively defend against the most recent generation of cyber attacks. By scrutinizing the time and effort hackers invest in scoping out potential targets, network defenders can take advantage of several opportunities to block system access or, at the very least, drive up the cost, making attempts unappealing.
A new project headed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory aims to use microgrid resources to boost the electric grid’s ability to bounce back more rapidly from blackouts or cascading outages, such as those following major storms or earthquakes.
In less than three years, researchers will attempt to demonstrate the potential of distributed energy resources, including the energy produced by solar panels on homes, to help restore power to the grid from scratch, an effort commonly known as a black start. The black start process is now done manually using special generators that can provide power to slowly bring other generators back online.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) now offers service product packages to mission-partner authorizing officials to provide a holistic view of their information systems risk posture. The packages help ensure compliance for mission partners who have programs and systems hosted within the DISA computing ecosystem.
Control Correlation Identifiers (CCIs) within the service packages allow high-level policy framework requirements to be decomposed and associated with low-level security settings to determine compliance with the objectives of that specific security control.
Millions of hits result from searching Google for the phrase “how cognitive computing will change the world,” reflecting the public’s big appetite for information about the emerging technology. But some experts foresee a time when the extraordinary is ordinary.
The federal government has invested billions of dollars on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies over the past few years, but it may be compromising its security posture for better information. Certainly being able to share and access the information derived from connected sensors is vital to the protection of the United States and instrumental to military success. However, connected devices present enticing targets, as evidenced by the 2016 Mirai Botnet attack, which originated through vulnerable IoT devices.
The U.S. Army is narrowing the gap between policy and operations as it confronts new threats in cyberspace. Field reports are having greater and faster influence on the issuance of directives, and intelligence is now a major player in determining cyber policy.
“Aligning cybersecurity directly with our operations to achieve readiness is the key to succeeding and moving forward,” says Carol Assi, division chief for cybersecurity policy and governance in the Army Chief Information Officer (CIO)/G-6 office. “And shrinking the gap between operation and policy, having continuous dialogue and working hand in hand, addressing issues in a collaborative environment, [are essential] to that. We no longer can afford to work in silos.”
The U.S. Cyber Command’s Cyber Mission Force must keep pace with a threat landscape that is evolving at an unprecedented tempo. Cyberthreats are constantly growing in volume, velocity and sophistication, and the force needs a warfighting platform that will allow it to get ahead of attackers. That platform should enable continuous improvement through iterative development at the speed and scale of military operations.
No longer a curiosity, the Internet of Things has emerged as a highly sought-after technology advantage for organizations worldwide. The federal government has stepped up as an innovator within this space, generating profound advancements with seemingly unlimited promise to support national security missions. Those in doubt need look no further than research from the Center for Data Innovation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan institute, which reveals a broad range of eclectic, real-life implementations.
Modern information and networking technologies bring exciting functionalities to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Manufacturers, service providers and users alike welcome the advancements because they boost business opportunities and enable new and better computing capabilities that offer convenience, increase independence and save time.
Plainly, innovations are appealing, but important security aspects are being pushed into the background. Security adds complexity and limitations to functionality. It requires more resources and seems to slow innovation and increase cost. In a military environment, these hurdles can seriously affect mission success.
There’s a new National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework that’s going against the grain. The Department of Defense has mandated that contractors comply with the guidance laid out in NIST special publication 800-171, which aims to strengthen the protection of controlled unclassified information. Why focus contractors’ limited resources on protecting information that is not top secret? Even if information is not top secret it still can be sensitive. For example, social security numbers, contact information, bank account details and other personal information about U.S.