The U.S. Navy has gone past wanting a new information architecture to needing one at the risk of losing a future combat operation. The sea service faces a grim future unless it quickly turns around current information technology trends that are doing it more harm than good.
Historically, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has been the driver of technological innovation, inventing remarkable capabilities to empower warfighter mission effectiveness and improve warfighter safety. Yet over the past 25 years, a transformational shift has taken place in several key technology sectors, and technology leadership in these sectors is no longer being driven by the military, but rather by the private sector.
The need for next-generation networking solutions is intensifying, and for good reason. Modern software-defined networking (SDN) solutions offer better automation and remediation and stronger response mechanisms than others in the event of a breach.
But federal administrators should balance their desire for SDN solutions with the realities of government. While there are calls for ingenuity, agility, flexibility, simplicity and better security, implementation of these new technologies must take place within constraints posed by methodical procurement practices, meticulous security documentation, sometimes archaic network policies and more.
Government IT professionals have clear concerns about the threats posed by careless and untrained insiders, foreign governments, criminal hackers and others. For the government, cyber attacks are a matter of life. We must deal with them as a common occurrence.
Native plant life could join traffic cameras, motion detectors and enemy sensor systems as future sources of battlefield information if the U.S. Army Research Laboratory has its way. The laboratory is applying the Internet of Things approach to theater command, control, communications, computers and intelligence as it plans to equip soldiers and their leaders with vital knowledge from nontraditional information sources, and it is leaving no stone—or crop—unturned in its efforts.
After analyzing lessons learned from a delay-riddled transition to Networx, where a 33-month long process resulted in a costly overrun of about $395 million, the General Services Administration (GSA) came well prepared to make the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract transition a much smoother process.
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and IBM are collaborating on a brain-inspired supercomputing system powered by a 64-chip array. The laboratory is investigating applications for the system in embedded, mobile, autonomous settings where limiting factors today include size, weight and power.
As an end-to-end software ecosystem, the scalable platform would enable deep neural-network learning and information discovery. Its advanced pattern recognition and sensory processing power would be the equivalent of 64 million neurons and 16 billion synapses; however, the processor component only will consume approximately 10 watts, the equivalent of a dim light bulb.
Organizations today must deal with an avalanche of big data and the advanced computing requirements that are driven by so much data. To cover the accelerated speeds and throughput needs they increasingly face, their information systems require increased network speeds and upgrades as well as improved security and monitoring tools.
Let’s face it—we have a lot to learn about cybersecurity. For weeks, the FBI and Apple squared off in an epic and public battle over encryption—the Holy Grail for cybersecurity warriors. “Help us break the iPhone,” said the FBI. “The risk is too great, too many will be harmed,” Apple retorted. But the battle was over before the parties fully engaged. The FBI found someone to hack the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters and said, “Never mind, problem solved.”
Does this make you feel secure? With attacks launched every day, I don’t think so.
The information technology infrastructure, processes and solutions that government agencies rely on are becoming less suitable for today’s operational, mission and business challenges, says Federal CIO Tony Scott, the government’s top chief information officer.
In a white paper that compares available information transport technologies, experts from Aspera Incorporated tackle the topic of moving big data quickly over wide area networks. “The loss-based congestion control in TCP AIMD [transfer control protocol additive-increase-multiplicative-decrease] has a deadly impact on throughput,” they state. “Every packet loss leads to retransmission and stalls the delivery of data to the receiving application until retransmission occurs. This can slow the performance of any network application but is fundamentally flawed for reliable transmission of bulk data.”
The increased dependence on interconnected networks propelled the Defense Department to seek viable solutions to not just counter the upsurge of cyberthreats, but to do so at much quicker speeds.
“The cyberthreat is also growing and evolving, driving us to move faster to increase our cyber resilience,” says Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, USA, director of command, control, communications and computers/cyber for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Some of the hackers who have persistently attacked Lockheed Martin’s networks have “gone quiet” in recent months, officials told reporters yesterday at an Arlington, Virginia, media summit hosted by the company’s recently restructured Defense and Intelligence Solutions division. “We’ve seen a number of the adversaries—I wouldn’t say they’ve disappeared—but they’ve gone quiet,” said Darrell Durst, Lockheed Martin’s vice president, cyber solutions. “I think we have been able to counter a number of the adversaries relative to our networks.”
A recently announced study by Juniper Networks found that 51 percent of government information technology decision makers plan to adopt software-defined networking (SDN) within the next two years. Twenty-five percent of government respondents to the Software-Defined Networking Progress Report said improved performance and more efficient networks will be the primary benefit, while 18 percent cited simplified network operations.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) primary external advisory board today announced a report calling for the agency to increase its staff of cryptography experts and to implement more explicit processes for ensuring openness and transparency to strengthen its cryptography efforts. In making its recommendations, the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT) specifically addressed NIST’s interactions with the National Security Agency (NSA).
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Bechtel BNI are joining forces to a new class of cyberdefense professionals to protect the nation’s critical digital infrastructure. The Bechtel-Lawrence Livermore-Los Alamos Cyber Career Development Program is designed to allow the national labs to recruit and rapidly develop cybersecurity specialists who can guide research at their respective institutions and create solutions that meet the cyberdefense needs of private industry, which owns about 80 percent of the nation’s critical digital infrastructure and assets.
Research on the state of cybersecurity of the U.S. critical infrastructure companies reveals that 67 percent have experienced at least one security compromise that led to the loss of confidential information or disruption to operations during the past year. In addition, 24 percent of a survey’s respondents said the compromises involved insider attacks or negligent privileged information technology users. Only 6 percent provide cybersecurity training for all employees.
U.S. Defense Department networks will need to operate with the minimum security available as connectivity and the threat picture evolve, said a top defense official. Terry Halvorsen, acting Defense Department chief information officer, minced no words as he described how tight budgets are limiting options across the board.
“I want for all these networks, the minimum level of security to get the mission done,” Halvorsen declared. “If we try to do the best security everywhere, we will not get to what we want. We don’t have the money; we don’t have the time.”
U.S. Defense Department data will be invading the commercial world as the department moves its unclassified information out of its own hands. Terry Halvorsen, acting Defense Department chief information officer, described the upcoming move at the Wednesday luncheon of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium, being held June 24-25 in Baltimore.
Ongoing budget cuts place the Defense Department in a challenging situation, tasked with continually supporting warfighters on an increasingly tight budget. The most direct route for the department to accomplish mission goals and support warfighters is through information technology innovation. And so to quote Gen. William L. Shelton, USAF: “If there was ever a time for innovation, this is it.”
The U.S. Army has released a draft request for proposals to procure additional Rifleman Radios, moving the system toward full rate production. The Rifleman Radio is part of the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit program. Under the full and open competition approach, the Army will award contracts, and qualified vendors will compete for delivery orders as needed.
People with access to privileged data—such as health care records, sensitive company information, intellectual property or personal records—frequently put their organization’s sensitive information at risk, according to a new report by Raytheon Company. The survey report, “Privileged User Abuse & The Insider Threat,” finds that many individuals often are granted access to data and areas of the network not necessary for their roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, 65 percent of survey respondents indicated that curiosity—not job necessity—drives them to access sensitive or confidential data.
Key findings include:
The Joint Information Environment (JIE) will be relying on virtual capabilities to a greater degree as part of several thrusts within the network. Enabling technologies include the cloud and software modernization as planners strive to ensure interoperability and access wherever users may be located.
A key tenet of the Joint Information Environment (JIE) will be the ability of users to have access to the same information system capabilities regardless of physical location, according to Defense Information System Agency (DISA) officials. Speaking on the final day of AFCEA’s three-day JIE Mission Partner Symposium being held in Baltimore May 12-14, the panel of officials described the importance of mobile capability as well as connectivity.
The Joint Information Environment (JIE) seeks to network the entire defense community, but its ability to address customer requirements could run afoul of its original purpose. Many military users have specific needs that must be addressed, so the JIE must meet those requirements without jeopardizing its desired interoperability.
High school students and teachers get to learn about the world of cybersecurity through Sandia National Laboratories' Cyber Technologies Academy (CTA), which offers free classes for those interested in computer science and cybersecurity.
The late Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, USN (Ret.), looks over my shoulder as I work in my home office. His picture graced the May 2003 cover of SIGNAL Magazine, highlighting an article Clarence A. Robinson Jr., wrote based on an interview with the admiral. I was lucky enough to escort SIGNAL’s freelance photographer to take the photo of Adm. Cebrowski when he led the charge for change as the director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Force Transformation. I received a cover photo plaque that hangs in my home office for my effort, though it really wasn’t necessary.
Indus Technology Inc., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a potential $21,797,616 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to support the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific’s (SSC Pacific) Radio Frequency and Network Systems Support Division to provide satellite communications, radio frequency and navigation systems support services. This is one of three contracts awarded: each awardee will have the opportunity to compete for task orders during the ordering period. This three-year contract includes two, one-year options, which if exercised, would bring the potential value of this contract to an estimated $36,825,493.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, Calif., has been awarded a $57,528,900 delivery order (0061) to an existing contract (FA8620-10-G-3038) to accomplish the tasks necessary to fabricate, deliver and/or provide hardware, software, and documentation to support the tasks necessary to upgrade and modify the remote split operations (RSO) network to support internet protocols data standards.
Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, government agencies came under widespread criticism for failing to share information and "connect the dots." By contrast, law enforcement agencies were almost universally praised following the Boston Marathon bombing and the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., both of which took place last year, pointed out panelists at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
The real challenge to keeping the homeland secure is dealing with the world's increasing complexity, Adm. Thad Allen, USCG, (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday during his luncheon keynote address.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is only interested in mobile communication if it allows the agency to perform functions it could not perform otherwise, Mark Borkowski, component acquisition executive and assistant commissioner with the CBP Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday. "We're not interested in mobility for mobility's sake but because it allows us to do something we haven't done before," Borkowski said, while participating in a panel on mobility and interoperability.
Engineering Services Network (ESN) Inc., Arlington, Va., announced recently that it has won a $700,000 contract to support the 99th Communication Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, NV. The contract is being managed by the 38th Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group (38 CEIG) at Tinker Air Force Base, OK. Under the contract, ESN will support moving the 99th Communication Squadron into a new communications facility. The company will move all aspects of the Nellis AFN Network Control Center into a new building.
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., McLean, Va., is being awarded $12,502,113 for task order NS27 under a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee, six-month bridge contract (N00178-04-D-4024) for program management office support for the Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems, Naval Enterprise Networks (NEN) office. Services being acquired are program management, financial management and administrative services in support of the NEN program office. The Space and Naval Warfare System Command, San Diego, Calif., awarded the contract on behalf of its organizational partner, Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems, and is the contracting activity (N00039-14-C-0036).
A recent survey of government employees reveals that federal agencies benefit financially from the flexibility mobile devices afford the work force. Responses from more than 200 federal employees at the management level indicate that 81 percent connect to work remotely at least once a week, 54 percent connect at least once a day and 45 percent connect several times a day. Respondents estimate that, in addition to their full-time work schedule, they spend more than another full workday—nine hours—each week checking their mobile devices for messages and email.
The U.S. Defense Department’s Joint Information Environment (JIE) achieved initial operational capability (IOC) on July 31. The JIE is the largest restructuring of information technology management in the military’s history. At the end of the project, personnel will have access to a secure joint environment made up of a shared information technology infrastructure, a single security architecture and enterprise services.
The new next-generation dispatch center for the San Luis Obispo County, California, Sheriff’s Office is one of the first in the nation to be completely Internet protocol-based, bridging its existing radio system with the latest smartphone and tablet technology. The new system turns a standard PC into a communications dispatch console and also turns a smartphone into a multi-channel land mobile radio handset for secure, on-demand push-to-talk communication.
10th Mountain Division U.S. Army Rangers and soldiers on the battlefield are now wearing commercial smartphones to communicate with each other and higher commands. Nett Warrior is a Samsung Galaxy Note II with its commercial memory wiped clean and Army-developed software loaded. It displays the locations of fellow soldiers, allows placement of location digital chem-light markers, and enables warfighters to communicate through texting. This information is then relayed to commanders over encrypted tactical radios.
The United States is one of the best in the world at protecting civil liberties, Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, director of National Security Agency (NSA) and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command said at the AFCEA Cyber Symposium in Baltimore.
Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked reams of data about NSA monitoring activities to the press, has been called a hero whistleblower by some, but Gen. Alexander contends that the employees at the NSA, FBI, CIA and Defense Department, who protect the nation while protecting civil liberties, are the real heroes.
The U.S. Navy will announce the winner of the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) tonight, according to Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally, USMC, Marine Corps director of command, control, communications and computers and chief information officer. Gen. Nally discussed the pending decision while participating in a panel discussion on the final day of the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore.
Although pockets of resistance still exist, leaders in the Defense Department and military services largely agree on the need for a Joint Information Environment, according to panelists at the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore. The JIE will one day consolidate all of the department’s myriad networks into one while providing enterprise services, such as email, Internet access, common software applications and cloud computing. It is expected to increase operational efficiency, enhance network security and provide cost savings through reduced infrastructure and manpower.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will likely announce within the next couple of weeks who will operate the Defense Department’s mobile app store, said Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr., USAF, DISA director.
Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr., USAF, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), spent some time during his luncheon keynote address talking about the Joint Information Environment (JIE), which the agency already has been working on for some time.
The U.S. Defense Department is building a single security architecture that ultimately will eliminate firewalls in the future, according to Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr., USAF, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) director.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is undergoing a substantial organizational restructuring, which is mostly complete and will be “set in concrete” July 15th. The reorganization will ensure the agency can support the military services, the joint staff, and all warfighting customers as the military moves to the Joint Information Environment, said Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, USAF, DISA director.
The United States will continue to develop a bilateral relationship with China regarding cybersecurity issues. In fact, the two countries will meet again in Washington, D.C., on July 8th, according to Maj. Gen. John Davis, USA, senior military advisor to the undersecretary of defense—policy for cyber, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Gen. Davis, the luncheon keynote speaker on the first day of the July 24-27 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore, said the United States recognizes China as a rising power and a major voice in the cyber arena.
U.S. government officials are traveling the country warning companies about a new round of cyberattacks that have targeted 27 companies, compromised seven and may ultimately affect up to 600 asset owners, according to Neil Hershfield, deputy director, control systems security program (CSSP), Industrial Control Systems-Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), Homeland Security Department.
Hershfield made the comments while taking part in a critical infrastructure protection panel discussion as part of the July 25-27 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium, Baltimore.
The U.S. Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, is training with Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 capabilities for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. The nodes will provide the division’s on-the-move network, delivering situational awareness information and enabling mission command. In addition to connecting ground soldiers, the network allows company commanders in vehicles to receive orders in real time from higher headquarters.
Sage Management Enterprise LLC, Columbia, Md., is being awarded a $7,955,374 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for advanced multi-integration sensor engineering reports.This contract provides advanced systems engineering, research, and analysis of sensors, networks, and ground stations spanning multiple disciplines to enable the future fielding of operational capabilities.
The malware that infiltrated computer systems across South Korea’s banking and television broadcast industries on March 20 shares similarities with the Shamoon program used last year to wipe clean the hard drives of 30,000 Saudi Aramco workstations, according to experts at General Dynamics Fidelis Cybersecurity Solutions. Investigators at the company’s newly-opened cyber forensics laboratory in Columbia, Maryland, say the malware is not a Shamoon variant, but that the two programs share some characteristics.