SIGNAL Media Blog

October 29, 2019
By Rod Musser
Recent events indicate the government is serious about enforcing supply chain cybersecurity. Credit: Kalabi Yau/Shutterstock

Supply chain security has been of concern to government leaders for decades, but with attacks now originating in industrial control systems (ICS) from supply chain vulnerabilities and with an increasing reliance on the Internet of Things (IoT), Congress is stepping up its involvement. For example, legislators have promised that more stringent standards will soon be enforced.

July 24, 2019
By Steve Orrin
To reap the benefits of AI, the Defense Department must first tackle challenges with people, processes and infrastructure. Credit: Laurent T/Shutterstock

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), the Department of Defense (DOD) has put a firm stake in the ground. The department’s AI strategy clearly calls for the DOD “to accelerate the adoption of AI and the creation of a force fit for our time.”

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.

June 17, 2019
By Brian Wright
An agreement to share the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum will benefit the U.S. Defense Department and the rest of the country. Credit: GDJ/Pixabay

Anyone who has worked in the Pentagon or on almost any military installation can attest to wireless connectivity problems. Whether dealing with a dearth of cellular service, inadequate Wi-Fi or security blockers, service members and civilians have felt the frustration of not being able to access information or communicate effectively.

March 15, 2019
By Mav Turner
Soldiers attack simulated enemy combatants during a training exercise at the Hohenfels Training Area in Germany. To meet the Army’s vision of multidomain battle, the service will need to build a battle-hardened network. Army photo by Pvt. Randy Wren

The U.S. Army is leading the charge on the military’s multidomain battle concept—but will federal IT networks enable this initiative, or inhibit it?

The network is critical to the Army’s vision of combining the defense domains of land, air, sea, space and cyberspace to protect and defend against adversaries on all fronts. As Gen. Stephen Townsend, USA, remarked to AFCEA conference attendees earlier this year, the Army is readying for a future reliant on telemedicine, 3D printing and other technologies that will prove integral to multidomain operations. “The network needs to enable all that,” said Townsend. 

January 23, 2019
By Joe Marino
Delivering innovative technologies into the hands of warfighters requires streamlined acquisition processes. Photo by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Drake Nickel

The response to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson’s repeated request to “pick up the pace” of developing and implementing breakthrough technologies for our warfighters has gone, in my opinion, largely unheeded.

This is not the result of a lack of innovative solutions. A myriad of research and development programs exists to support the development of new technologies or to adapt existing commercial technologies to defense applications. Rather, it’s the result of an arcane acquisition process that is burdensome, expensive and lacking vision. Acquisition reform is where we need to pick up the pace!

January 30, 2019
By Steven Boberski
The U.S. Defense Department has started to integrate unified communications into its Everything Over Internet Protocol strategy, but a wide range of computing platforms, telecommunications systems and other collaboration technologies result in a web of technologies that cannot integrate or interoperate. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

When the Department of Defense (DOD) launched its Everything Over IP initiative nearly 10 years ago the focus was to bring traditional telecommunications technology—phone calls, streaming video and even faxes—to the digital world.

At that time, unified communications (UC), especially in the government workplace, was a relatively new concept. Remember, this was a time when voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones were still seen as cutting edge. Now, though, UC has become not just a business tool, but a strategic offering that can connect employees in disparate locations, including the frontlines.

January 28, 2019
By Dave Mihelcic
When it comes to IT modernization, agencies often set their sights on adopting next-generation technology, but cybersecurity must be a priority. Credit: PIRO4D/Pixabay

More than a year has passed since the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act was signed into law, cementing the establishment of a capital fund for agencies to support their special IT projects. The MGT Act prompted defense and intelligence agencies to accelerate the replacement of legacy systems with innovative and automated technologies, especially as they explore new ways to mitigate security risks like those experienced all too often by their private sector counterparts.

January 25, 2019
By Chris Balcik
A soldier fires an M240B machine gun during combined arms live-fire training. Soldiers in combat face a great deal of emotional and physical stress, but wearable technologies can monitor their health and performance. Photo by Army Spc. Hannah Tarkelly

The military continues to focus its efforts on developing the most sophisticated technologies and capabilities needed to sustain tactical advantage and achieve mission objectives. But the most critical component to success on the battlefield continues to lie with the warfighter.

December 10, 2018
By Paul Parker
The U.S. defense community is buzzing about open source containers, but the technology presents security concerns. Credit: TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay

Open source containers, which isolate applications from the host system, appear to be gaining traction with IT professionals in the U.S. defense community. But for all their benefits, security remains a notable Achilles’ heel for a couple of reasons.

First, containers are still fairly nascent, and many administrators are not yet completely familiar with their capabilities. It’s difficult to secure something you don’t completely understand. Second, containers are designed in a way that hampers visibility. This lack of visibility can make securing containers extremely taxing.

Layers upon layers

November 30, 2018
By Sean Berg
Small contractors remain cyber's weak link in the defense industrial chain. Credit: TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay

The U.S. defense industrial supply chain is vast, complex and vulnerable. Organic components, large-scale integrators, myriad commercial service providers, and tens of thousands of private companies sustain the Defense Department. According to the SANS Institute, the percentage of cyber breaches that originate in the supply chain could be as high as 80 percent.

October 26, 2018
By Karyn Richardson
Planning ahead can take much of the stress out of data migration. Credit: Shutterstock

Implementing a new system can be an exciting time, but the nagging questions and doubts about the fate of data you’ve literally spent years collecting, organizing and storing can dampen this excitement.

This legacy data often comes from a variety of sources in different formats maintained by a succession of people.
 Somehow, all the data must converge in a uniform fashion, resulting in its utility in the new solution. Yes, it is hard work and no, it is not quick. Fortunately, this scrubbing and normalization does not have to be a chaotic process replete with multiple failures and rework.

October 24, 2018
By Michael Carmack
Small and medium-sized defense contractors are increasingly targeted by malicious hackers seeking to steal intellectual property. Credit: GDJ/Pixabay

It comes as no surprise that U.S. adversaries continue to target and successfully exploit the security weaknesses of small-business contractors. A successful intrusion campaign can drastically reduce or even eliminate research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) costs for a foreign adversary. Digital espionage also levels the playing field for nation-states that do not have the resources of their more sophisticated competitors. To bypass the robust security controls that the government and large contractors have in place, malicious actors have put significant manpower into compromising small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

October 22, 2018
By Mike Lloyd
Artificial intelligence is still too easily fooled to secure networks without human assistance. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

Artificial intelligence can be surprisingly fragile. This is especially true in cybersecurity, where AI is touted as the solution to our chronic staffing shortage.

It seems logical. Cybersecurity is awash in data, as our sensors pump facts into our data lakes at staggering rates, while wily adversaries have learned how to hide in plain sight. We have to filter the signal from all that noise. Security has the trifecta of too few people, too much data and a need to find things in that vast data lake. This sounds ideal for AI.

October 15, 2018
By Paul Parker
Technical, physical, and departmental silos could undermine the government’s Internet of Things security efforts. Credit: methodshop/Pixabay

Every time federal information technology professionals think they’ve gotten in front of the cybersecurity risks posed by the Internet of Things (IoT), a new and unexpected challenge rears its head. Take, for instance, the heat maps used by GPS-enabled fitness tracking applications, which the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) warned showed the location of military bases, or the infamous Mirai Botnet attack of 2016.

October 11, 2018
By Ken Peterman
Hybrid adaptive networks combines the power of U.S. military and commercial satellite communications, maximizing warfighter capabilities and resilience. Credit: sumanley/Pixabay

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. 

September 24, 2018
 
Forces deployed around the world need the ability to transmit securely on their networks.

A special operations officer who needed secure network connectivity to transmit data anywhere on the globe gained the capability in less than a minute by using Cyberspace Operations Infrastructure, or CSOI.

That officer was able to send data securely across the open network because CSOI uses the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption mode. A 128-bit header uses a series of standards built out in the 1990s initially to secure drones. It also is used to cloak energy grids and older military architectures that will not attain IPv6, according to Robert Osborne, chief technology officer at IMPRES, the developer of CSOI.

September 11, 2018
By Paul Parker
Strip away the spin around software-defined networking, and IT administrators are left with the same basic network management processes under a different architectural framework, says Paul Parker with SolarWinds. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

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.

September 5, 2018
By Tony Franklin
Image courtesy of Intel

As edge technologies continue to get smarter, faster, and more connected, incredible opportunities have emerged for the public sector to accelerate time to value and reduce costs. These mission-specific solutions are also simpler and faster to deploy!

August 29, 2018
By Paul Parker
Agencies should consider taking five fundamental steps to fortify networks before the next cyber attack. Credit: Daria-Yakovleva/Pixabay

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.

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