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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.”
Solid-state drives store data using flash memory and are becoming common system-level components in military systems. Although they are inexpensive and readily available, commercial off-the-shelf versions often fail to meet military requirements: predictable performance under stressful operating conditions, robust ruggedization, long-term availability from an accredited supplier and trusted security. Drives designed for the commercial market do not provide the flexible security features needed in today’s modern military applications.
Editor’s note: Hugh Montgomery, the focus of this article, passed away April 6, just weeks after this SIGNAL interview.
It is just a matter of time before other countries face insider leaks similar to those that have haunted the American intelligence community, said Hugh Montgomery, a former U.S. diplomat and a pioneering intelligence officer who served for more than six decades.
An offshoot of social media, crowdsourcing could hold solutions to some of the biggest cybersecurity problems the U.S. Defense Department faces. The burgeoning field could find fixes for thorny legacy problems as well as emerging cyberthreats. This is exactly what is taking root at the Joint Forces Staff College in a course offered to service members and their Defense Department civilian equivalents learning cyber concepts in joint, interagency and multinational environments.
Cybersecurity can no longer be viewed as a technology-only problem and segmented into stovepipes where the U.S. Defense Department carries out one set of tasks; the civilian government another; and industry does its own thing, said Adm. Michael Rogers, USN, director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and commander of U.S. Cyber Command.
“It must be viewed more broadly and must be tackled from a national security perspective,” Adm. Rogers said during a morning West 2017 conference presentation Thursday with Adm. James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), former NATO commander and dean of Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.