NSA

September 17, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Intelligence community chief information officers are selecting advanced capabilities to support key mission efforts. Credit: Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff

During the pandemic, technology leaders across intelligence agencies have focused not only on supporting the continuity of mission efforts and the connectivity of its work force, but also emerging solutions to drive innovation and efficiencies.

Some of the main tools officials are pursuing include: advanced software delivery, multicloud use, machine learning and data processing tools, said chief information officers (CIOs), who along with moderator Lewis Shepherd of VMware, spoke on September 17 at the Intelligence and National Security Summit, co-hosted virtually by INSA and AFCEA.

July 15, 2020
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Defense Department officials intend to complete an initial zero trust architecture by year's end to improve cybersecurity, according to Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director, Defense Information Systems Agency.

The U.S. Defense Department by the end of the calendar year will release an initial zero trust architecture to improve cybersecurity across the department, says Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director, Defense Information Systems Agency, and commander, Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network.

Norton’s agency, commonly known as DISA, is working with the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense (DOD) chief information officer and others on what she calls an initial “reference” architecture for zero trust, which essentially ensures every person wanting to use the DOD Information Network, or DODIN, is identified and every device trying to connect is authenticated.

July 1, 2020
By Maryann Lawlor
Capt. Liaquat Ali, USAF, deputy director of AF Connect, speaks to airmen about the Air Force Connect mobile app at the Air National Guard training and education center. Capt. Ali's team at the Pentagon rolled out the innovation, which allows both public and restricted-access communications on personal mobile devices. Photo by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith, ANG

Under a joint pilot program, verifying the security of mobile application software for use within the federal government no longer needs to be time consuming or expensive. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), working with a partnership within the NSA, automated the process to determine if apps meet the agency’s National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) protection profile.

February 12, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Defense Information Systems Agency and the National Security Agency are partnering more closely than ever to develop and deploy cybersecurity technologies. Credit: BeeBright/Shutterstock

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is working more closely with the intelligence community and is partnering with the National Security Agency (NSA) on a number of cybersecurity-related efforts, officials say.

October 2, 2019
Posted by George I. Seffers
The NSA's new Cybersecurity Directorate will initially focus on securing weapon systems and the defense industrial base. Credit: Shutterstock/honglouwawa

The National Security Agency (NSA) has created a new Cybersecurity Directorate as a recognition that “the best defense against devastating cyber attacks is to unify as a nation against our threats,” the agency has announced.

September 5, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
A phalanx of U.S. intelligence chiefs review the community's progress to close out the Intelligence & National Security Summit. Pictured are (l-r) panel moderator David Ignatius, associate editor and columnist, The Washington Post; Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, USA, commander, CYBERCOM and NSA; Christopher Scolese, director, NRO; Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, USA, director, DIA; Vice Adm. Robert Sharp, USN, director, NGA; and Paul Abbate, associate deputy director, FBI. Credit: Herman Farrer Photography

Government agencies are working together much more effectively as they counter terrorism and state-sponsored attacks in cyberspace. But more remains to be done as adversaries introduce new tactics and capabilities.

A panel comprising the top U.S. intelligence officials reviewed these issues as they closed out the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence & National Security Summit on September 5. Their points ranged from foreign interference in U.S. elections to cooperation—or the lack thereof—from industry with the U.S. government.

July 24, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
The National Security Agency (NSA) has created a new Cybersecurity Directorate to improve cyber partnerships and increase intelligence coordination.

The National Security Agency (NSA) is launching its new Cybersecurity Directorate with a promise of “opening the door to partners and customers on a wide variety of cybersecurity efforts,” according to an agency statement. These partners will include established government allies in the cyber domain such as the U.S. Cyber Command, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. The directorate also is promising to share information better with its customers to help them defend against malicious cyber activity.

July 15, 2019
By Noah Schiffman
The National Security Agency is not to blame for the recent ransomware attack on the city of Baltimore, says Noah Schiffman, KRB chief technology adviser. Credit: Shutterstock/Stephen Finn

The May 7th ransomware attack against Baltimore has crippled much of the local government’s IT infrastructure while holding its network hostage. Not since the March 2018 attacks against Atlanta has a major U.S. city been so digitally impaired.

The subsequent media coverage of Baltimore’s struggle has generated some misplaced criticism of the U.S. government. Initial news reports erroneously claimed that the ransomware leveraged an NSA-developed exploit to compromise Baltimore’s municipal systems. Unfortunately, this snowballed into numerous sources placing blame on the NSA, claiming that they mismanaged their cyber weaponry. 

This is grossly incorrect.

May 16, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Panelists at TechNet Cyber discuss the cyber workforce and the need for continuous education. Phoot by Michael Carpenter

Personnel working in cyber must continually look for opportunities to learn, say cyber professionals from across government.

During a morning panel discussion on the final day of the AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore, high-ranking officials from the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency discussed a wide range of issues concerning the cyber workforce today and tomorrow.

April 8, 2019
By Maryann Lawlor
The Ghidra tool suite examines compiled code using disassembly, decompilation and graphing.

The National Security Agency is now sharing the source code of Ghidra, its reverse engineering tool developed by the agency’s Research Directorate in support of its cybersecurity mission. Ghidra, a suite of software analysis tools, examines complied code using capabilities such as disassembly, assembly, decompilation, graphing and scripting.

Ghidra helps analyze malicious code and malware and improves cybersecurity professionals’ understanding of potential vulnerabilities in their networks and systems. With this release, developers can now collaborate, create patches and extend the tool to fit their cybersecurity needs.

January 29, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, released today the intelligence community’s annual threat assessment, which lists cyber, artificial intelligence and weapons of mass destruction as some of the top technological threats. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

The United States faces a “toxic mix of threats,” Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence, testified today before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence while unveiling the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

January 16, 2019
By Julianne Simpson
Rob Joyce, senior cyber advisor to the director, NSA, talks about the cyber workforce shortage at CERTS.

There is not enough skilled talent for the growing need of the cyber community. Based on a state-by-state analysis on cyberchair.org, there are currently 320,000 open cyber jobs in the United States. Projections get worse. According to a CISCO report, by 2020 there will be 1 million unfilled cyber positions worldwide.

“We need to make systemic changes to address that gap,” said Rob Joyce, senior cybersecurity strategy advisor to the director, National Security Agency (NSA), and former cybersecurity advisor to the president.

August 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Credit: TheDigitalArtist/Pixaba

Millions of times every single day, antagonists search for entry into the U.S. Defense Department’s networks. They come from all over: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran. Some are sponsored by nation-states; others are terrorist groups.

August 6, 2018
By Andrew Kelleher
The NSA has had significant, and perhaps surprising, influence on the standards for destroying no-longer-needed data. Credit: PRILL/Shutterstock

Never before has there been such an intense focus on data security and privacy. With data breaches increasing exponentially and the European Union’s recent implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), data security has been at the forefront of news stories over the past several months, with both businesses and consumers suddenly paying very close attention. With this increased attention has come an understanding that data continues to exist even when it is no longer needed or used. Due to this newfound understanding and GDPR’s “Right to be Forgotten,” the eradication of data has new urgency and has become critical to a successful data security program.

July 24, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Now an NSA hacker, Army Specialist Alexander Woody made a major career change similar to the one his mother made shortly after his birth. Credit: alan9187/Pixabay

When Alexander Woody was born, his mother knew she needed to forge a new path career-wise. She enrolled in an associate's degree program at her local community college and studied computer programming.

“She hit that program really hard back in the '90s and was able to succeed,” says Woody, who is now an Army specialist working as a counter pursuit operator within the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center.

Spc. Woody ended up with the NSA after finding himself also at a career crossroad. He studied chemistry at North Carolina State University and sometimes tutors high school students struggling with chemistry. But he realized it wasn’t the right career choice for him.

May 16, 2018
By Beverly Cooper
Credit: Shutterstock

If you think of the cyber threat as Godzilla, you can see the need for a framework that optimizes limited resources. As the beast attacks the building, those individuals located on the ground floor—for example the architects and engineers—worry about being stepped on by its feet. Those on the next floor up, the systems engineers, see the knees and want protection from being kicked. The next level, the incident responders, see the claws and worry about what those claws can do. Higher in the building, the operators see the shoulders and are focused on how big the threat might be based on the shoulder size. The customers at the top only see teeth and flames.

March 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Credit: Niyazz/Shutterstock

Where some see challenges, others see opportunities. It sounds like a motivational poster, but that is exactly how researchers at the National Security Agency view the Internet of Things, or the IoT.

“We approach IoT a little differently than everybody else. Everybody’s talking about all the security problems. That’s certainly fair, but we look at IoT as an opportunity in terms of the security goals we can accomplish,” says George Coker, chief, Information Assurance Research Group, National Security Agency (NSA).

November 1, 2017
By Cmdr. Bryan Leese, USN, and Brooke Wright
The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (l), the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (c) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea transit the Strait of Gibraltar. The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group helped prove the afloat geospatial intelligence concept through the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s ship rider program.

The U.S. Navy has outsourced geospatial intelligence at sea, delaying its investment in a solution to this core intelligence competency for the afloat commander. The service needs to train its analysts to produce geospatial intelligence and acquire software and hardware for them. A cost-effective systems solution exists, but the lack of commitment to geospatial intelligence holds the Navy back.

September 7, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Panelists discuss section 702 Intelligence reauthorization during the Intelligence and National Security Summit.

Officials from across the U.S. intelligence community are calling for reauthorization of section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the government to collect data on non-U.S. citizens on foreign soil, as Congress debates whether to reauthorize, reform or outright reject it.

Multiple officials from multiple agencies touted the benefits of Section 702 during the 2017 Intelligence and National Security Summit, which was held Sept. 6-7 in Washington, D.C.

August 18, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Active-duty, Reserve and National Guard service members participate in exercises sponsored by U.S. Cyber Command. On Friday, President Donald Trump elevated the command to a unified combatant command. Photo: Chief Petty Officer Dennis J. Herring, USN

After months of uncertainty, President Donald Trump announced today that he has elevated the U.S. Cyber Command to a unified combatant command. In addition, Cyber Command ultimately may be separated from the National Security Agency (NSA).

“This new unified combatant command will strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our nation’s defense,” Trump said. “The elevation of United States Cyber Command demonstrates our increased resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure our allies and partners and deter our adversaries.”

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