guest bloggers

January 31, 2017
By Ray Rothrock
Image credit: www.bluecoat.com

As the nation deals with intelligence reports of Russian hacks of the U.S. presidential election, some of us in industry are pondering how President Donald Trump will tackle cybersecurity issues.

He already has a good road map. In December, the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity issued its “Report on Securing and Growing the Digital Economy.” Kudos are in order. It is high time the executive branch dug deeply into cybersecurity issues.

February 28, 2017
by Phil O'Reilly
U.S. Navy personnel learn about the Office of Naval Research's suite of information technology tools designed to improve fleet operations.

As we near the end of the first quarter of this new year, it seems like a perfect time to introduce and discuss four new "resolutions," if you will, for federal information technology managers and what a new action plan for progress might look like.

Without further ado, let's dive right in. 

February 27, 2017
By Ben Sharfi
A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle tackles rough terrain during training at an air base in Southwest Asia.

Open standards are easy to love. With a common, defined computing system, anybody can port their applications to them and the software syncs beautifully, simplifying upgrades and providing flexibility in customers’ choice of supplier. One U.S. Army crack at open standards provides a good example of the expectation, which was to correct the problems created by the bolted-on approach of field equipment on vehicles. Unfortunately, like far too many of such standards, the Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability, or VICTORY, falls flat on implementation.

February 8, 2017
By Bill Lemons

For the past several years, U.S. federal agencies have undergone a concerted effort to consolidate and streamline their data centers. As such, they’ve ramped up initiatives to drive application requirements to the cloud, used virtualization services whenever possible to improve efficiencies and deployed sensors to monitor power consumption.

January 30, 2017
By Charlie Kawasaki
A U.S. Marine uses a tablet to communicate in real-time during the Infantry Officer’s Course.

The ability of warfighters to be mobile and nimble is not a luxury during combat operations. It is an absolute necessity. Staying ahead of the enemy or avoiding attack often means an entire command post must move, and quickly—a mammoth challenge if the command post relies on a wired communications network with cumbersome and costly cables and equipment.

December 9, 2016
By Rob Morrow

Right at this moment, hundreds of U.S. government analysts are trying to solve the exact same problem. Each is tackling a number of major national and international security issues, from cyberthreats to terrorism, global health crises and public safety problems. Without easy, trusted data sharing, these analysts, who the nation relies on to solve the most challenging of worries, cannot benefit from shared knowledge—a hurdle that adds to inefficiencies fostered by redundancies, reinforcing the public’s perception of ineffective federal bureaucracy.

December 20, 2016
By Capt. Kenneth Parks, USN (Ret.)

There’s no disputing technology’s role in the rapidly changing face of modern warfare. The convergence of commercial services with military applications, such as delivery of real-time data from anywhere using various devices, has changed the physical nature and understanding of what constitutes a combat environment. The U.S. military seeks to define a strategic approach to these converged operations.

December 8, 2016
By Tony Bardo
A U.S. soldier talks with his wife on Facebook at an Internet cafe set up at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.

With U.S. military troops stationed in nearly 150 countries, the force is the primary safeguard for ensuring national security—domestically and abroad. Each day, military personnel sacrifice time from family and risk their lives to protect the interests of the country—which is why, in 1903, Congress authorized the Defense Department to build, operate and maintain libraries, schools, recreation centers and gyms for the warfighters.

November 29, 2016
By Joe Kim

While it’s clear the cloud is the future of government IT, concerns surrounding cloud security continue to abound. Some agency IT personnel remain skittish about handing over data to cloud service providers and skeptical that the data will remain out of the hands of bad actors. As a result, they’re more comfortable housing information in legacy IT systems, even if those systems are, in some cases, decades old and prone to security vulnerabilities.

In truth, deploying a cloud IT infrastructure is ideal for managing today’s ever-changing threat landscape, for several reasons. Here are three reasons why.

November 28, 2016
By David Young

When we think about critical infrastructure, specifically the sectors the Department of Homeland Security has deemed essential to the wellbeing of the country, rarely does the idea center on public networking assets to support critical infrastructure. But a rapid transformation of network technology and security improved processes so that agencies now can take advantage of combined public and private networking to accomplish information technology goals.

November 22, 2016
By Ben Sharfi
A soldier from 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division demonstrates Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 and Mission Command on the move applications during Network Integration Evaluation 12.1.

It seems like a simple choice. You need to upgrade a platform’s computing capabilities—whether on a ground vehicle, a fast-delivery ship, a signal’s intelligence airplane or in a server room—but some of the existing hardware still is salvageable. Rather than do a complete upgrade from scratch, it is possible to leverage much of the existing technology and retain existing racks, power supplies and mass storage in the retrofit. It makes perfect sense: Why throw away parts that seem to be working? But a closer inspection might reveal a different answer. Let’s peel back a few layers and see why—and when—it might make sense to throw away existing equipment and start over.

November 14, 2016
By David Young

The Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (CISR) month serves as a reminder to not only understand, but appreciate, the various critical infrastructure sectors that play vital roles in the national and economic security of the United States. As a veteran of the telecom industry, my focus is to support those network infrastructure centers underlying these sectors. How do we improve networking capabilities within these sectors, not only addressing today’s complicated requirements, but allowing for continued innovation?

November 9, 2016
By Ralph Wade

An impression exists among senior government officials that moving command, control, communication, computers and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems into the cloud is overhyped. They question whether this will improve operational effectiveness. I admit I once shared these reservations, but recently evolved on the subject and now see a compelling rationale for moving C4ISR into the cloud. 

November 8, 2016
By Joe Kim

More than a decade ago—2003 to be precise—the Defense Department announced plans to convert its network to the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) standard. Today, the wait continues.

By David Young

Discussions about the nation’s critical infrastructure usually focus on aging networks, some more than 50 years old. A most stunning fact was highlighted in a recent a Government Accountability Office report, which revealed some Defense Department control systems still use 8-inch floppy disks to store data related to nuclear operations.

By Joe Kim

Ensuring that deployed U.S. troops can communicate and exchange information is critical to the military’s missions. That said, there are numerous challenges in deploying the high-speed tactical networks that make this communication possible. How, for example, do you make sure these networks are available when needed? What is the best way to maintain data integrity? The accuracy of the data—such as troop location—is just as important as network availability.

Network security of course also is critical. Specifically with tactical Wi-Fi networks, it is crucial to ensure our military personnel are the only ones accessing the network and there is no exfiltration going on undetected.

October 17, 2016
By Aubrey Merchant-Dest

Last year, the Defense Department issued the Cybersecurity Culture and Compliance Initiative (DC3I), a memorandum containing alarming statistics on the actual number of successful network compromises and their causes, and principles for guiding daily operations for network users. The good news is that out of 30 million known malicious intrusions occurring over 10 months, 99.9 percent were prevented.

September 15, 2016
By J. Wayne Lloyd

When it comes to cybersecurity, I have heard many people express consternation and wonderment as to why the government cannot protect the Internet. It boils down to two things: No authorization, and officials only have visibility into a scant number of networks under their control. 

August 5, 2016
By Ralph Wade
A U.S. Air Force target system analyst assigned to the 15th Intelligence Squadron, 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, 363rd ISR Wing provides training using a simulated satellite constellation at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

As discussed in my last post, to meet the needs of the nation’s combatant commands (COCOMs) and National Command Authority, government and industry must evolve the current intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, sensors and ground systems into a truly global ISR enterprise. An incremental approach must be combined with overarching actions to migrate to common ISR information technology infrastructures, orchestrated toward the larger goal of an integrated ISR enterprise. This can be done through three DOD ISR focus areas: 

August 23, 2016
By Ed Hammersla

The world of intelligence sharing has gone from on a need-to-know basis between federal agencies to one in which those key players must, by necessity, combine disparate pieces of intel to ascertain a complete picture of potential threats.

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