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Sep 1 2012

September 4, 2012

1Sep2012

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US Air Force seeks to enhance its cyberwarfare capabilities

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center invites concept papers in the area of cyberspace warfare attacks

By Lucian Constantin

August 29, 2012 12:07 PM ET

 

IDG News Service – The U.S. Air Force is openly soliciting technologies that would improve its capability of launching cyberattacks and gathering intelligence during cyberwarfare operations.

“The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center invites concept papers addressing Information operations (IO) capabilities focusing on Cyberspace Warfare Operations (CWO) to be administered by the AFLCMC/HNJG Program Office,” the Air Force said in a broad agency announcement (BAA) released Aug. 22. “The AFLCMC/HNJG Program Office is an organization focused on the development and sustainment of Cyberspace Warfare Attack capabilities that directly support Cyberspace Warfare capabilities for the operations Air Force.”

According to the announcement, the Air Force is looking for technologies and concepts that can be used in a cyberspace warfare attack to “disrupt, deny, degrade, destroy, or deceive an adversary’s ability to use the cyberspace domain to his advantage,” as well technologies that could result in “the adversary entering conflicts in a degraded state.”

Technologies that can map data and voice networks, provide access to the adversary’s information, networks, systems or devices, manipulate data or cause a denial of service of cyberspace resources, current and future operating systems and network devices, are provided as examples of what the Air Force is looking for.

The submission of concept papers is only the first step in a process that will result in contracts totaling up to US$10 million being awarded for the creation of prototypes.

This public solicitation of proposals in the area of cyberattacks is a bit unusual, considering that for the past few years the U.S. government has mostly been talking about developing cyberdefense capabilities.

However, the open discussion about the use of cyberweapons seems to have become a trend in the past few months.

Just two weeks ago, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. General Richard Mills openly admitted to using cyberattacks in Afghanistan in 2010 with great success.

“I can tell you that as a commander in Afghanistan in the year 2010, I was able to use my cyber operations against my adversary with great impact,” Mills said during a talk he gave at the TechNet Land Forces East conference in Baltimore on Aug. 15.

“I was able to get inside his nets, infect his command-and-control, and in fact defend myself against his almost constant incursions to get inside my wire, to affect my operations,” Mills said.

Mills also revealed that the U.S. Marine Corps is building a dedicated support company of Marines that will increase the availability of intelligence analysts, intelligence collectors and offensive cyberoperations and will be deployed “in the appropriate unit, at the appropriate time, at the appropriate place, so that the forward deployed commander, in the heat of combat, has full access to the cyberdomain.”

 

Last month, National Security Agency Director General Keith B. Alexander, who also heads the U.S. Cyber Command, made a very rare appearance at the Defcon hacker conference where he encouraged hackers to join the NSA and other government agencies.

In June, The New York Times reported that the U.S. and Israel developed the Stuxnet cybersabotage malware as part of a secret operation to set back Iran’s nuclear efforts. The report cited unnamed sources from the Obama administration who had knowledge about the project.

 

Low cost spy plane takes off as military budgets squeezed

Wed, Aug 29 2012

By Andrea Shalal-Esa

 

BALTIMORE, Maryland (Reuters) – Northrop Grumman Corp, maker of the B-2 spy plane and the Global Hawk unmanned drone, will demonstrate a smaller, cheaper surveillance plane this week it hopes will be attractive to budget conscious U.S. law agencies and foreign countries.

The new Air Claw system marks Northrop’s latest effort to expand its overseas revenues and move into new non-military markets at home given the expected decline in U.S. military spending after a decade of sharp growth.

The new aircraft adds high-tech sensors to the rugged, single-engine Quest Kodiak aircraft, including a wide-area surveillance camera that captures images over an area that measures 4 miles by 4 miles and has already been used to help make arrests on the southern U.S. border.

“Air Claw will cost millions less than other aircraft that are out there,” Tom Kubit, a senior executive with Northrop Grumman’s technical services sector, told reporters at a small private airport outside Baltimore.

He said Northrop has built over a dozen special mission planes for the U.S. government over the past 21 years, but developed the new plane as a low-cost alternative given the mounting budget pressures facing the U.S. government and an estimated 48 countries that use such aircraft.

Northrop will demonstrate the Air Claw to U.S. law enforcement agencies this week.

The plane, which can take off and land on short, unimproved runways, had its first flight in July, and generated strong initial interest at two U.S. air shows this summer. The company is hosting a series of demonstration flights for potential customers across the country through October, Kubit said.

He said Northrop would market the new plane for use in border patrol, law enforcement, disaster response and special operations missions.

He declined to give an exact price, but said the new plane, equipped with a standard package of sensors, would cost about the same as a Pilatus PC-12 built by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland, which sells for just under $4 million, and millions less than the King Air, both without surveillance equipment.

Northrop is also pitching a new remotely-piloted unmanned plane, Sandstorm, that it says would dramatically lower the cost of training pilots to fly drones such as Predators and Reapers, giving them more opportunities to practice and possibly averting damage caused by many hard landings of the unmanned planes.

Sandstorm, which can be flown via the Internet, could also be used for testing payloads and some limited operations, said Karl Purdy, manager of new unmanned aerial system programs for the Northrop technical services division.

 

Each new aircraft and its control system costs less than $100,000, Purdy said, calling the program the brainchild of Don Bintz, one of the first pilots to fly the Predator drones that are built by privately held General Atomics.

(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Michael Perry)

 

Pentagon investigating Navy SEAL’s book for secret info

By Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY

Military officials are reviewing a soon-to-be-released book by a Navy SEAL about the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden to determine whether it divulges secret information, Lt. Col. James Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday.

However, it is unlikely the author, former SEAL Matt Bissonnette, will be prosecuted, said two Pentagon officials who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The book contradicted some key details of the raid presented by the Obama administration after the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Bissonnette wrote that the SEALs spotted bin Laden at the top of a darkened hallway and shot him in the head even though they could not tell whether he was armed. The administration described the SEALs shooting bin Laden only after he ducked back into a bedroom because they assumed he might be reaching for a weapon, the Associated Press reported.

The book, No Easy Day, was not provided to the Pentagon before its printing. It is due to be released Tuesday. Bissonnette authored the book under the pseudonym Mark Owen.

A 2008 Pentagon regulation requires retired troops and Defense Department civilian employees to allow a security review of material they plan to publish to ensure that it “does not compromise national security.”

“We have the book, and we’re taking a look,” said Lt. Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

A statement released by the book’s publisher, Dutton, quotes the author (referred to as Owen) as saying the book “adheres to my strict desire not to disclose confidential or sensitive information that would compromise national security in any way.”

If Pentagon officials determine that the book reveals secret information, they could refer Bissonnette to the Justice Department for prosecution, Gregory said. Military officials have not yet made that determination, Gregory said.

Last week, Adm. William McRaven, who leads the U.S. Special Operations Command, sent a letter to his troops reminding them that they were required to seek approval before publishing material.

 

Air Force seeks tech to ‘destroy, deny, degrade’ enemy computer systems


By Dawn Lim

August 29, 2012

The Air Force is planning a push in “developing capabilities associated with cyberspace warfare attack” and wants ideas from security researchers, a contracting notice indicates.

 

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is seeking concept papers for tools “to destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive, corrupt, or usurp the adversaries ability to use the cyberspace domain,” according to a presolicitation document posted August 22. The public call reflects the Pentagon’s increasing openness about gearing up for offensive cyber operations against enemy computers.

While the document fell short of explicitly mentioning malware or vulnerability analysis tools, it didn’t dismiss them as areas of interest. The Pentagon wants research ideas on denial-of-service attacks, stealth tools, ways to manipulate data, vulnerability assessment-related tools to “intercept, identify, and locate or localize sources of access” in networks and systems, the document said.

Any technology that is implemented is likely to be used in tandem with physical attacks, “resulting in the adversary entering conflicts in a degraded state,” the document notes. Jacobs Technology, BAE Systems Information Technology Inc., and Tecolote Research are playing an advisory role in the procurement process. Proposals will be requested only from selected respondents. The Air Force is accepting proposals through Dec 31.

The call comes after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced it was looking to fund tools and development of infrastructure to lay down the groundwork for offensive cyber operations as part of a program called Plan X.

http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2012/08/air-force-seeks-tech-destroy-deny-degrade-enemy-computer-systems/57735/

 

New NASA Satellites Have Android Smartphones for Brains

Mashable.com

August 26, 2012 by Lauren Indvik 16

 

NASA is aiming to launch a line of small satellites called “PhoneSats” that are cheaper to make and easier to build than those it has produced in the past. To achieve this, engineers are using unmodified Android smartphones — in one prototype, HTC’s Nexus One, and in another, Samsung’s Nexus S — to perform many of a satellite’s key functions.

As NASA explains on its website, these off-the-shelf smartphones “offer a wealth of capabilities needed for satellite systems, including fast processors, versatile operating systems, multiple miniature sensors, high-resolution cameras, GPS receivers and several radios.”

“This approach allows engineers to see what capabilities commercial technologies can provide, rather than trying to custom-design technology solutions to meet set requirements,” NASA adds.

The total cost for building one of these prototype satellites costs a mere $3,500. Three are expected to launch aboard the first flight of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket from a NASA flight facility at Wallops Island, Va., later this year.

 

Army Eyes Ambitious, Cheap Satellites And Launchers

By Amy Butler

Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

August 27, 2012

The U.S. Army is making headway with plans to demonstrate the utility of nanosatellites and small, low-cost, mobile launchers to provide direct support to deployed forces. Such assets would bypass the traditional data processing and dissemination system located in the U.S.

Though the Army’s budget for space systems pales in comparison to the Air Force’s multibillion-dollar annual satellite and launcher procurement request, the former’s small demonstration project could spark a much-needed roles-and-missions discussion about which service is best suited to provide tactical spaceborne capabilities for soldiers abroad. This focus by the Army on the utility of small satellites comes as the Air Force is pushing to close its Operationally Responsive Space office, which was designed to find ways to reduce cycle time for spacecraft, including an emphasis on smaller buses.

While the Army is aggressively pursuing a plan to showcase these tactical capabilities starting next year, the Air Force is taking a longer view of infusing small satellites into its architecture by studying ways to augment the traditional satellites now 23,000 mi. up in geosynchronous orbit with smaller, more agile systems in lower orbits.

If the Army’s plan prevails, the Pentagon could take an approach similar to that used for tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft in parsing out responsibilities between the two services, says Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin, deputy commander for operations at the Army Space and Missile Defense Command here.

One way to divide the workload would be to allocate responsibility to the Air Force for larger constellations to serve the “global community,” Coffin suggests. The Army, by contrast, could step in and handle special-mission tactical requirements, which will often be on low-orbit satellites with a short life cycle. This model, he says, is akin to the way ISR responsibilities are apportioned, with the Air Force providing much of the strategic collection services from its fleets and relaying data back to massive ground station infrastructures for processing, while the Army handles more tactical requirements, with products going straight to soldiers on the ground.

The Pentagon is providing low-level funding for three Army advanced-concept technology demonstration initiatives: Kestrel Eye, a 15-kg, (33-lb.) 1-meter resolution electro-optical imaging nanosatellite; Snap, a beyond-line-of-sight communications satellite; and the Soldier-Warfighter Operationally Responsive Deployer for Space (Swords), a low-cost, mobile launcher capable of lofting a 25-kg payload 466 mi. into orbit.

Each is designed to maximize use of existing commercial parts and suppliers, avoiding costly unique design requirements. Kestral Eye is already built and will be launched within the next year, as will the Snap spacecraft, Coffin says. The total cost of building Kestrel Eye, which employs a legacy star-tracker payload, is about $1.5 million, assuming production of 10 units per year.

 

 

Obama administration orders shift from paper to electronic records

FedTimes

Aug. 24, 2012 – 04:47PM |

By SEAN REILLY | 1 Comments

Agencies are “to eliminate paper and use electronic record-keeping” as much as possible in handling both classified and unclassified records, the Obama administration said Friday. And the Office of Personnel Management must create a career track for records management employees by the end of next year.

The new records management directive — a five-page memo from Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeff Zients and David Ferriero, head of the National Archives and Records Administration — also requires agencies to:

• Manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format by December 2019 — rather than printing out records of emails and other online records. By the end of next year, the Archives is supposed to issue new instructions for managing, disposing of and transferring email records.

• Consider records management issues when using cloud computing services for data storage.

• Explore the use of automated technologies to make recordkeeping easier.

Creation of a formal occupational series for records management employees will elevate the responsibilities and skill sets of agency records officers, Zients and Ferriero wrote.

Such employees are now classified under a potpourri of titles, such as information technology specialist, management analyst or program analyst. “It varies from agency to agency,” said Don Rosen, director of policy analysis and enforcement for the Archives’ chief records officer.

The memo, posted online, draws on agency feedback and on plans provided in response to an earlier directive from last November. Agencies have already named senior officials to oversee compliance with records management requirements. By December, Ferriero is supposed to convene those officials for the first in a series of meetings to discuss progress in implementing Friday’s directive. Beginning in October 2013, each agency is supposed to report annually to the Archives on where they stand on meeting the requirements.

 

Escaping Sequestration

AF Magazine

Amy McCullough

27Aug 2012

 

Top Pentagon officials and defense industry executives have said budget sequestration would have a devastating impact on US national security. However, there are a few critical defense areas that would escape sequestration’s wrath, according to Todd Harrison, senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. First, there would be no base closures, Harrison told reporters during an Aug. 24 briefing. In fact, the Budget Control Act’s sequestration clause prohibits the closure of any military installation that employs at least 300 people until a detailed cost and environmental analysis is completed and congressional defense overseers approve the closure, he said. Second, military personnel would not receive any “pink slips,” said Harrison. President Obama already has stated that military personnel accounts would be exempt if sequestration is implemented in January.

However, military healthcare, which is primarily funded through the Pentagon’s operations and maintenance accounts, would face cuts, he noted.

Third among the exemptions, there would be no reduction in pay for military personnel, said Harrison. Beyond that, no programs would be immediately terminated, and sequestration would not affect contracts for which the Pentagon has already obligated the funding, he said.

 

SAIC to split into two public companies

Washington Post

By Marjorie Censer, Published: August 30

McLean-based Science Applications International said Thursday it plans to split itself into two public companies, taking a major step to unwind a strategy that attempted to more tightly integrate its historically independent units.

The decision comes just months after SAIC appointed its fourth chief executive, retired Air Force Gen. John P. Jumper, with a mandate to reenergize the business.

SAIC was historically known as one of the most entrepreneurial of contractors. Founded by a physicist who led the business for more than three decades, SAIC’s units operated autonomously, and managers were encouraged to pursue their own work.

But Walter P. Havenstein, the previous chief executive, moved the company toward a more integrated approach, arguing that the government’s focus on large contracting programs favored companies that could deploy a wide range of skills. The company struggled under the strategy, watching its profit and revenue decline.

SAIC said it plans to separate into two parts by the end of next year. A roughly $4 billion-a-year services business is to focus on areas such as systems engineering and technical assistance, financial analysis and program office support.

An estimated $7 billion-a-year IT company — which SAIC is calling a “solutions” business — will focus on science and technology for the national security, engineering and health sectors. Communications and intelligence systems as well as electronic warfare and cybersecurity programs would be a part of the offerings.

An SAIC official said in a conference call with investors that the company could not offer details on who would lead the companies or where they would be headquartered.

In addition to a strategic shift, SAIC said the move addresses the real or perceived conflicts of interest that are created when a contractor provides multiple services to the government, such as having one unit build a system and another responsible for its testing.

SAIC said each new company would be more competitive and able to pursue a strategy tailored to its work.

The separation in some ways echoes that of SAIC’s neighbor, contracting giant Booz Allen Hamilton, which split off from its commercial business several years ago. The company’s chief executive has said that he tried to keep the two businesses together as part of a grand “one-company” strategy but it did not yield the results he had hoped.

The split also follows the moves of other defense contractors, from McLean-based Northrop Grumman to Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, to divest their services businesses to avoid conflicts of interest. Northrop split off Chantilly-based TASC, while Lockheed sold its Enterprise Integration Group.

More recently, L-3 Communications divested its services business — now known as Engility — in an effort to improve its overall profit margins. Services, an L-3 executive said, have become less profitable as the government pursues the lowest price.

Also Thursday, SAIC reported profits of $110 million (32 cents per share) in the three-month period ended July 31, down from $178 million (50 cents) in the same period a year earlier. Quarterly revenue grew by almost 10 percent, to $2.8 billion.

 

Sen. Feinstein urges Obama to issue executive order on cybersecurity

Measure needed to protect critical assets against cyber attacks, says top Democrat

Jaikumar Vijayan

August 30, 2012 (Computerworld)

A senior Democratic lawmaker is urging President Barack Obama to issue an executive order aimed at protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure against cyber threats.

In an open letter to the President on Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called on Obama to use his authority to get government agencies and critical infrastructure owners to implement better controls for protecting their computer networks.

“While efforts to reach consensus continue, I fear that the Congress will be unable to pass meaningful cybersecurity legislation this year,” said Feinstein, who is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Therefore, I believe the time has come for you to use your full authority to protect the U.S. economy and the networks we depend on from future cyber attack.”

The letter is unlikely to do much to bridge the growing divide between Republicans and the Democrats on the issue of national cybersecurity legislation.

The White House-backed Cybersecurity Act is currently stalled in the Senate because of opposition from Republican lawmakers who see it as too regulatory.

Earlier this year, a group of Republican lawmakers proposed an alternative bill called SECURE IT. Like the Cybersecurity Act, the Republican bill, too, aims to bolster cybersecurity by making it easier for private industry and government to share critical cyber threat information.

The Republicans have claimed their bill is better suited for the task because it focuses on collaboration and voluntary participation rather than government-enforced regulation. They also noted that their version of the bill offers better liability protection for companies that participate in voluntary sharing of threat information.

The White House has already expressed its frustration over the continued bickering between the two sides and has said it is considering an executive order to address the issue.

Efforts to pass a national cybersecurity bill have been going on for several years. The stalled Democrat-backed legislation has already been heavily revised to accommodate Republican concerns, but still appears to be going nowhere. The same is true with the Republican alternative.

Both sides have blamed each other for the stalemate. Earlier this month, several GOP senators expressed support for a bilateral approach to the issue, while accusing the Democrats of adopting a “take-it-or-leave-it” approach to the legislation.

Feinstein’s letter meanwhile blamed Republicans for the impasse. “Despite good faith efforts to reach a compromise and major concessions on our part, those opposed to the legislation were able to defeat progress on the bill,” she wrote.

Security analysts are divided on the need for legislation. Some have accused both sides of making cybersecurity a political issue during an election year and have noted that many of the measures being proposed as new have been in place for years.

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