Automation software tools are being under-utilized, especially in the U.S. Defense Department. While the department has purchased and used automated scanning tools for security and compliance, it has been slow to adopt automation for many other tasks that would benefit from the capability, such as easing software deployment and standardization and, once developed, increasing the speed of overall automation.
Network data collection, analysis and sharing are core to cyber defense, and Tinisha McMillan is on a mission to improve all three.
As division chief for the Cyber Situational Awareness and NetOps Division within the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), McMillan is responsible for building and providing cyber analytics and tools to enhance the department’s cyber information sharing to protect the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN).
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.”
When operating one of the most complex and critical networks on the planet, risk is a given. That risk comes in two forms, technical and operational, and managing both is a matter of balance.
Roger Greenwell, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) risk management executive and authorizing official, is responsible for maintaining that balance on the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN), a global enterprise network that enables information superiority and critical communications. The DISN is the core of the Department of Defense Information Network, a worldwide conglomeration of military networks.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can be used by DOD to gain a competitive advantage, especially in cyberspace operations. While the technology has made it easier for the military to operate and communicate, “It has also a unique set of challenges with dependencies and vulnerabilities for the department, our nation, our economy and our everyday lives,” said Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and commander, Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN). The admiral presented the keynote luncheon address at the AFCEA Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium on February 5 and spoke to SIGNAL Magazine.
The Warfighter Information Network–Tactical program delivered a digital transformation, enabling maneuver elements to move faster and provide commanders with vital battlefield information in near real-time. Its flexibility facilitated communications in Iraq’s urban environments and Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain. Although a powerful improvement over Mobile Subscriber Equipment, the technologies are not powerful enough to combat adversaries wielding cyber capabilities.
Providing an information network that enables warfighters to perform global missions is not easy given the network itself is besieged constantly by cyber attacks. All U.S. Defense Department organizations use the complex technical infrastructure known as the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN), and the responsibility to protect it 24/7 falls squarely on the shoulders of Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN).
While years of slashed budgets and uncertain revenue streams set in motion some innovative thinking at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), the crunch constricted innovation and choked off a lot of creative work the agency developed.
DISA offers little opportunity to support in-house organic solutions, relying instead much more on private companies for solutions that agency officials can then adapt to military applications, said Tony Montemarano, DISA's executive deputy director. “We are in the adoption mode now,” he shared Thursday at an AFCEA DC Chapter monthly breakfast.
The future of warfighting is smaller and lighter—technology that will let troops conduct battles from a smartphone or tablet, said Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, USA, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA.
It wasn’t too long ago that the Defense Department embarked on a Cybersecurity Discipline Implementation Plan identifying specific tasks that department’s IT personnel must perform to reinforce basic cybersecurity requirements identified in policies, directives and orders across the agency.
The plan, publicly unveiled in March after being amended, segments tasks into four key “lines of effort” to strengthen cybersecurity initiatives:
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has renamed the Continental United States Field Command to reflect the organization’s evolution as a global service provider. The organization, which will soon consolidate the majority of its personnel into a new facility at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, is now called the DISA Global Operations Command (DGOC).
The organization, which was informally known as DISA CONUS, was one of four regional field commands and Defense Network Operations Centers operated by DISA. It was originally established in 2003. Unlike DISA’s Central, European and Pacific field commands, DISA CONUS was not directly aligned or co-located with a combatant command headquarters.
The cyber attack into a key unclassified email server of the U.S. Joint Chiefs in August helped indoctrinate and shape missions at the new centralized office erected to defend the Defense Department’s cyber networks, said Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, USA, commander of Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Networks (DODIN).
The nation-state-sponsored attack was a bit of a shock in its aggressiveness, said Gen. Lynn, who also serves as the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). “For three weeks, we went after this cyber event and worked it to figure out how we now work as this new command.”