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Pentagon Leaders Discuss Challenges of Moving Data To and From the Tactical Edge

Officials described their goals as they begin implementing the DOD’s enterprisewide data strategy. As the Defense Department shifts to become the data-centric organization laid out in its enterprisewide data strategy, data leaders across the department and the services are working through questions related to how to keep information flowing from the enterprise level to the tactical […]

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Officials described their goals as they begin implementing the DOD’s enterprisewide data strategy.

As the Defense Department shifts to become the data-centric organization laid out in its enterprisewide data strategy, data leaders across the department and the services are working through questions related to how to keep information flowing from the enterprise level to the tactical level and vice versa.

The ability to move information “wrapped in cybersecurity” to the tactical edge—giving warfighters actionable data—is a driving goal behind the data strategy and the Pentagon’s Digital Modernization Strategy, released in 2019, according to data officials speaking at a FedInsider webinar Wednesday. But, currently available communications technologies are a limiting factor.

Dr. Clark Cully, DOD’s acting deputy chief information officer, used 5G as an example of an emerging technology capable of facilitating movement of information to the tactical edge.

“Our [command, control, and communications] team is investing heavily in the industry and international consortia to ensure that cybersecurity and zero trust are fundamental components of how the wider global industry of 5G manufactures those technologies to ensure their integrity, so that we can source components from a variety of suppliers and not be concerned about backdoors or other vulnerabilities,” Cully said.

Communications infrastructure in environments without ready access to traditional networking capabilities restricts data flows from the edge to the enterprise, according to Tom Sasala, chief data officer for the U.S. Navy. Sasala indicated this means data leaders at DOD need to think about what kind of information gets selected to flow back and forth.

“Just recently at the CENTCOM Data Symposium … I made the point of saying that data is contextual in nature, right, so not all pieces of information that are generated at the tactical, not all pieces of information generated in the enterprise need to flow across each side,” Sasala said.

Sasala also detailed his work standing up the Navy’s data organization. Sasala is the department’s first CDO, and he said over the last 18 months the Navy has struggled to establish a data management program.

The Navy’s focus needed to shift from a narrow view encompassing business systems to a holistic approach, Sasala said. Shifting gears and ramping up data governance activities has involved establishing a variety of new data roles throughout the service’s hierarchy.

These roles include associate data officer positions, which support command and control as well as day-to-day data management. Two other data governance roles—a data storage position and functional data manager roles—will support policymaking and implementation around data, Sasala said.

“We have a governance forum that we run monthly now,” Sasala said. “We’ve actually appointed … deputy data officers for the Navy and the Marine Corps so we have a kind of triad where the secretariat, where I sit, and then the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps each have a data officer,” Sasala said.

Now, the Navy is beginning to implement its data architecture, which was developed last year, with the goal of taking data from authoritative sources and placing them in integrated, secure locations to enhance decision-making, Sasala said.

Implementing the data architecture—which includes Jupiter, the Navy’s enterprise data environment launched in April 2020—will allow the Navy to enhance security through advanced access controls, thereby improving security while keeping data accessible. Ultimately, Sasala hopes to be able to do risk adaptive access control, which will allow for real-time permissions adjustments.

Source: https://www.nextgov.com/analytics-data/2021/02/pentagon-leaders-discuss-challenges-moving-data-and-tactical-edge/171902/

Source: https://cyber-reports.com/2021/02/06/pentagon-leaders-discuss-challenges-of-moving-data-to-and-from-the-tactical-edge/

Cyber Security

Biden administration unveils effort to strengthen cybersecurity of power grid

The Biden administration kicked off a 100-day effort on Tuesday to beef up cybersecurity in the nation’s power grid, calling for industry leaders to install technologies that could thwart attacks on the electricity supply. The move follows a high-profile, if unsuccessful, cyberattack in Florida that sought to compromise a water treatment plant, which highlighted some

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The Biden administration kicked off a 100-day effort on Tuesday to beef up cybersecurity in the nation’s power grid, calling for industry leaders to install technologies that could thwart attacks on the electricity supply.

The move follows a high-profile, if unsuccessful, cyberattack in Florida that sought to compromise a water treatment plant, which highlighted some of the cybersecurity vulnerabilities in America’s critical infrastructure.

The Energy Department announced the push on Tuesday, saying the initiative would outline actionable steps for utility owners and operators that could help them detect and defend against cyberattacks. Experts have said that so-called industrial control systems should rarely if ever be connected to the public internet and that any remote access to those systems should prevent commands from being executed.

Cybersecurity has been a major focus of the administration’s first 100 days, following two alarming cybersecurity incidents: The SolarWinds intrusion campaign by alleged Russian hackers that compromised nine US agencies and dozens of private organizations, and the Microsoft Exchange server vulnerabilities that exposed tens of thousands of systems worldwide.

Tuesday’s announcement also calls for input from the private sector on future recommendations to further secure the country’s infrastructure from cyberattack.

“The United States faces a well-documented and increasing cyber threat from malicious actors seeking to disrupt the electricity Americans rely on to power our homes and businesses,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in a release. “It’s up to both government and industry to prevent possible harms — that’s why we’re working together to take these decisive measures so Americans can rely on a resilient, secure, and clean energy system.”

While the initiative begins with the US electric grid, officials said other sectors will soon receive the same attention.

“These efforts really underscore, again, the Biden-Harris administration’s focus on building back better and considering advancements in our country’s infrastructure and our country’s fundamental resilience to be a foundational step that we all must take together as we confront cyber threats that could compromise our most critical systems that are essential to US national and economic security,” said Eric Goldstein, a top cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

The Biden administration’s plan is “very encouraging,” said Robert M. Lee, CEO of Dragos, Inc., a cybersecurity firm focusing on industrial cybersecurity.

“This is a plan that seems to be done in unison with electric sector leadership and cross-government agency,” Lee said. “That bodes well for its success and impact since there was communication and buy in ahead of time. Further, the focus on threat detection is fantastic.”

Tuesday’s announcement also calls for input from the private sector on future recommendations to further secure the country’s infrastructure from cyberattack.

Source: https://localnews8.com/politics/2021/04/20/biden-administration-unveils-effort-to-strengthen-cybersecurity-of-power-grid/

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Cyber Security

Federal watchdog investigating State Department cybersecurity practices

An independent government watchdog is conducting a wide-ranging probe into the State Department’s cybersecurity practices, including how it manages and responds to cyber threats, the investigating office confirmed to CNN Thursday.

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Washington (CNN)An independent government watchdog is conducting a wide-ranging probe into the State Department’s cybersecurity practices, including how it manages and responds to cyber threats, the investigating office confirmed to CNN Thursday.

The Government Accountability Office “does have an ongoing audit of the State Department’s cybersecurity practices,” director for Information Technology and Cybersecurity Vijay A. D’Souza said, adding that he has been in contact with the department and is “optimistic” the investigation will be completed in a timely manner.

The investigation was launched in October 2020 at the request of lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    In a March 30 letter to Keith Jones, the State Department’s chief information officer, D’Souza described the investigation as being focused on the department’s capacity for managing hacking risks and responding to and recovering from cybersecurity incidents. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, outlines how the GAO has struggled to obtain what it said were the necessary documents for conducting the assessment.

      Hunting the hunters: How Russian hackers targeted US cyber first responders in SolarWinds breach

      “While we have received some of the requested documents, in many cases, that production has taken over two months,” D’Souza wrote. “The delays by [the department] in providing the requested information are preventing our carrying out our work for the Congress in a timely manner.”

      “The Department is aware of the recent GAO request and is working to respond,” a State Department spokesperson told CNN. Politico was first to report the GAO investigation.

      The Biden administration has faced mounting pressure to respond quickly to the hacking risks posed by foreign adversaries, in the wake of high-profile incidents that widely affected the public and private sectors. In December, revelations of a sophisticated hacking campaign set off alarm bells across Washington. That campaign, which US officials later said was likely Russian in origin, compromised nine federal agencies and dozens of private companies through an unwitting software vendor, SolarWinds.

      Weeks later, Microsoft said it found evidence of a far-reaching security vulnerability in its on-premises Exchange server software, which affected tens of thousands of systems around the world.

      The twin incidents, though unrelated, have prompted a scramble within the US government to assess cybersecurity risks and to develop new policies designed to shore up the country’s cyber defenses. Within weeks, the Biden administration is expected to unveil an executive order that imposes new security requirements on US agencies, such as encryption mandates and the use of multi-factor authentication.

      DHS to propose 'cyber response and recovery fund' for state and local governments

      The administration is also expected to establish cybersecurity standards for federal software vendors and use the government’s immense procurement power to reshape the software market to prioritize network security, according to Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser and the White House’s top cyber official.

      Speaking Wednesday at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, Neuberger said another idea the White House is considering is a kind of National Transportation Safety Board for cybersecurity. Such an organization could help review major information security incidents and to “make that commitment to say we will learn from each thing that occurs.”

      Neuberger added the administration is preparing an initiative to harden the cybersecurity of industrial control systems that govern power, water and other critical infrastructure.

        The coming push follows a high-profile attempted cyberattack in February against a water treatment plant in Florida. Though the attack was unsuccessful, it highlighted some of the weaknesses in America’s utilities infrastructure.

        “We’re seeking to have visibility on those networks to detect anomalous cyber behavior and to block anomalous cyber behavior,” Neuberger said. “Today, we cannot trust those systems because we don’t have the visibility into those systems. And we need the visibility of those systems because of the significant consequences if they fail or if they degrade.”

        Source: https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/08/politics/watchdog-state-department-cybersecurity/index.html

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        Cyber Security

        POLICE GEAR UP FOR CYBER SECURITY LAW AS KATANGA WARNS ZAMBIANS AGAINST LIES

        The latest news, politics, business, and opinion from Zambia

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        Chipata ~ Sat, 03 April 2021

        By Brightwell Chabusha

        Deputy Inspector General of police Charity Katanga has vowed that police will enforce the cyber security law to the letter.

        In an interview with journalists in Chipata, Katanga said people should ensure that whatever they are reporting on social media is credible.

        “With the introduction of the cyber security law, the police are going to enforce it to the letter. We want to ensure that whatever people are reporting on social media is credible and verifiable without causing any malice or any crime against another person. So, it’s expected that people should be able to defend their positions,” Mrs Katanga said.

        She also said police have intensified both foot and motorised patrols during this Easter holiday.

        “It’s known that people celebrate during this time and others can be found wanting in various offences, so as per tradition officers have been deployed in various places including roads to avoid road carnage,” Mrs Katanga said.

        She was in Eastern Province to orient police officers on the newly launched electoral security plan for policing of 2021 general elections.

        In an interview with journalists in Chipata, Katanga said people should ensure that whatever they are reporting on social media is credible.

        Source: https://zambiareports.com/2021/04/03/police-gear-cyber-security-law-katanga-warns-zambians-lies/

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