Science and Technology News

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rogers Tabbed as Next Cyber Command Chief



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2014 – Navy Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers is President Barack Obama's nominee to become the next commander of U.S. Cyber Command, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a DOD news release issued today.

Hagel also announced that he has designated Rogers to serve as director of the National Security Agency, and chief of the Central Security Service, according to the release.

“I am pleased that President Obama has accepted my recommendation to nominate Vice Adm. Michael Rogers as Commander of U.S. Cyber Command. And I am delighted to designate him also as Director of the National Security Agency,” Hagel said in a statement issued today. “This is a critical time for the NSA, and Vice Adm. Rogers would bring extraordinary and unique qualifications to this position as the agency continues its vital mission and implements President Obama's reforms.”

In his statement, Hagel noted that Rogers is “a trained cryptologist” with a Navy career spanning 30 years.

Rogers currently serves as the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command commander and commander of the U.S. 10th Fleet. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he will replace Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who has served as the NSA director since 2005, and the Cyber Command commander since 2010, the DOD release said.

“As commander of the Navy's 10th Fleet and U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, he has already demonstrated his leadership and deep expertise in this critical domain,” Hagel said of Rogers. “I am also confident that Adm. Rogers has the wisdom to help balance the demands of security, privacy, and liberty in our digital age.”

Additionally, the release said, Richard Ledgett has been selected to serve as the NSA deputy director. In his new role as the senior civilian at NSA, Ledgett acts at the agency's chief operating officer. He replaces J. Chris Inglis, who retired from the position in January.

“If confirmed, Vice Adm. Rogers will be joined by an exceptionally able Deputy Director and senior civilian leader, Rick Ledgett, whom I congratulate on his appointment today,” Hagel said in his statement. “Rick brings outstanding qualifications to the job. And I know that both he and Vice Adm. Rogers join me in thanking Gen. Keith Alexander for his remarkable leadership of the NSA and Cyber Command for nearly a decade.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Apollo 1 remembered in honored tradition

by Heidi Hunt
45th Space Wing Public Affairs


1/28/2014 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- Three former space pioneers were honored during the 47th annual Apollo 1 Memorial Ceremony Jan. 27 at Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The memorial honored crew members, Command Pilot Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White II and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee, who were killed by a flash fire during a launch pad test of their Saturn 1B rocket, Jan. 27, 1967.

"As we honor three American heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this great Nation, we remember them for not how they died, but the ideals for which they lived," said Col. Robert Pavelko, 45th Space Wing vice commander. "We strive to emulate their leadership, integrity and dedication."

More than 100 family and friends of the spaceflight heroes were also in attendance.

Betty, Grissom's wife, was recognized for the sacrifices she made during Gus Grissom's career. She has attended the ceremony every year since the tragedy. Additionally, three candles were lit to pay homage to the astronauts.

Scott Grissom, Gus' son, said the ceremony is important because future generations will remember this day in history.

At exactly 6:31 p.m. audience members fell silent for the conclusion of the memorial, the exact moment the flash fire occurred, killing all three astronauts.

Ending the ceremony included taps, a musical piece, from a bugler of the Naval Ordnance Test Unit and remarks from the 45th Space Wing vice commander.

"Each launch provides a constant reminder of the efforts of those heroes and their families who came before us," Pavelko said. "Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom and Ed White dedicated their lives to this nation and furthering space exploration. Their legacy lives on."

Cyber Criminal Pleads Guilty to Developing and Distributing Notorious Spyeye Malware

Aleksandr Andreevich Panin, a Russian national also known as “Gribodemon” and “Harderman,” has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud for his role as the primary developer and distributor of the malicious software known as “SpyEye,” which, according to industry estimates, has infected over 1.4 million computers in the United States and abroad.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia and Acting Special Agent in Charge Ricky Maxwell of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office made the announcement.

“Given the recent revelations of massive thefts of financial information from large retail stores across the country, Americans do not need to be reminded how devastating it is when cyber criminals surreptitiously install malicious codes on computer networks and then siphon away private information from unsuspecting consumers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.  “Today, thanks to the tireless work of prosecutors and law enforcement agents, Aleksandr Panin has admitted to his orchestration of this criminal scheme to use ‘SpyEye’ to invade the privacy of Americans by infecting their computers through a dangerous botnet.  As this prosecution shows, cyber criminals – even when they sit on the other side of the world and attempt to hide behind online aliases – are never outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement.”

“As several recent and widely reported data breaches have shown, cyber-attacks pose a critical threat to our nation’s economic security,” said U.S. Attorney Yates. “Today’s plea is a great leap forward in our campaign against those attacks.   Panin was the architect of a pernicious malware known as ‘SpyEye’ that infected computers worldwide.   He commercialized the wholesale theft of financial and personal information.   And now he is being held to account for his actions.   Cyber criminals be forewarned: you cannot hide in the shadows of the Internet.   We will find you and bring you to justice.”

“This investigation highlights the importance of the FBI’s focus on the top echelon of cyber criminals,” said Acting FBI SAC Maxwell.   “The apprehension of Mr. Panin means that one of the world’s top developers of malicious software is no longer in a position to create computer programs that can victimize people around the world.   Botnets such as SpyEye represent one of the most dangerous types of malicious software on the Internet today, which can steal people’s identities and money from their bank accounts without their knowledge.   The FBI will continue working with partners domestically and internationally to combat cyber-crime.”

According to the charges and other information presented in court, SpyEye is a sophisticated malicious computer code that is designed to automate the theft of confidential personal and financial information, such as online banking credentials, credit card information, usernames, passwords, PINs, and other personally identifying information.   The SpyEye virus facilitates this theft of information by secretly infecting victims’ computers, enabling cyber criminals to remotely control the infected computers through command and control (C2) servers.   Once a computer is infected and under their control, cyber criminals can remotely access the infected computers, without authorization, and steal victims’ personal and financial information through a variety of techniques, including “web injects,” “keystroke loggers,” and “credit card grabbers.”   The victims’ stolen personal and financial data is then surreptitiously transmitted to the C2 servers, where it is used to steal money from the victims’ financial accounts.

Panin was the primary developer and distributor of the SpyEye virus.   Operating from Russia from 2009 to 2011, Panin conspired with others, including codefendant Hamza Bendelladj, an Algerian national also known as “Bx1,” to develop, market and sell various versions of the SpyEye virus and component parts on the Internet.   Panin allowed cyber criminals to customize their purchases to include tailor-made methods of obtaining victims’ personal and financial information, as well as marketed versions that specifically targeted designated financial institutions.   Panin advertised the SpyEye virus on online, invitation-only criminal forums.   He sold versions of the SpyEye virus for prices ranging from $1,000 to $8,500.   Panin is believed to have sold the SpyEye virus to at least 150 “clients,” who, in turn, used them to set up their own C2 servers.   One of Panin’s clients, “Soldier,” is reported to have made more than $3.2 million in a six-month period using the SpyEye virus.

According to industry estimates, the SpyEye virus has infected more than 1.4 million computers in the United States and abroad, and it was the preeminent malware toolkit used from approximately 2009 to 2011.   Based on information received from the financial services industry, over 10,000 bank accounts have been compromised by SpyEye infections since 2013 alone.   Some cyber criminals continue to use SpyEye today, although its effectiveness has been limited since software makers have added SpyEye to malicious software removal programs.

In February 2011, pursuant to a federal search warrant, the FBI searched and seized a SpyEye C2 server allegedly operated by Bendelladj in the Northern District of Georgia.   That C2 server controlled over 200 computers infected with the SpyEye virus and contained information from numerous financial institutions.

In June and July 2011, FBI covert sources communicated directly with Panin, who was using his online nicknames “Gribodemon” and “Harderman,” about the SpyEye virus.   FBI sources then purchased a version of SpyEye from Panin that contained features designed to steal confidential financial information, initiate fraudulent online banking transactions, install keystroke loggers, and initiate distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks from computers infected with the malware.

On Dec. 20, 2011, a Northern District of Georgia grand jury returned a 23-count indictment against Panin, who had yet to be fully identified, and Bendelladj.   The indictment charged one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, and 11 counts of computer fraud. A superseding indictment was subsequently returned identifying Panin by his true name.

Bendelladj was apprehended at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan. 5, 2013 and was extradited from Thailand to the United States on May 2, 2013.   His charges are currently pending in the Northern District of Georgia.

Panin was arrested by U.S. authorities on July 1, 2013, when he flew through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The investigation also has led to the arrest of four of Panin’s SpyEye clients and associates in the United Kingdom and Bulgaria.

On Jan. 28, 2014, Panin pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire and bank fraud.   Sentencing for Panin is scheduled for April 29, 2014, before United States District Judge Amy Totenberg of the Northern District of Georgia.

The case is being investigated by the FBI.   Assistant United States Attorney Scott Ferber of the Northern District of Georgia, Trial Attorney Ethan Arenson of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Senior Litigation Counsel Carol Sipperly of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.   Former Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Oldham also participated in the prosecution while with the Criminal Division.

Valuable assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and the following international law enforcement agencies:   The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency, the Royal Thai Police-Immigration Bureau, the National Police of the Netherlands - National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), Dominican Republic’s Departamento Nacional de Investigaciones (DNI), the Cybercrime Department at the State Agency for National Security-Bulgaria and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Valuable assistance also was provided by the following private sector partners: Trend Micro’s Forward-looking Threat Research (FTR) Team, Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, Mandiant, Dell SecureWorks, Trusteer and the Norwegian Security Research Team known as “Underworld.no”.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Satellite Battery Modification Expected to Add 27 More Years of Life to GPS IIR/IIR-M Fleet

by SMC Public Affairs

1/22/2014 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. -- Since October 2012, U.S. Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has been analyzing, characterizing, testing and implementing modified battery charge control rates across the GPS IIR/IIR-M fleet. This fleet of 19 satellites comprises more than half of the Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation. As of Nov. 15, 2013, the USAF's 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS) completed the modification, which will extend the life of these satellites' operational capability.

Batteries are projected to be the primary life-limiting component when GPS IIR/IIR-M vehicles are past their design life. Analysis by SMC, The Aerospace Corporation and Lockheed Martin indicated that reducing the charge rates during solstice season would add an average of one to two years of life per space vehicle. SMC GPS directorate and 2SOPS will closely monitor the real-world results of this project to ensure they are in line with the expected gains. In total, it is anticipated that the modification will add more than 27 years of cumulative life across the GPS IIR/IIR-M fleet.

The Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force's center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes GPS, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.

45th Space Wing Supports Successful NASA Launch

45th Space Wing Public Affairs

1/24/2014 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla -- The U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing provided flawless Eastern Range support for NASA's successful launch of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-L mission aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Launch Complex 41 here at 9:33 p.m. Jan. 23.

The rocket flew in the 401 vehicle configuration with a four-meter fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.

Airmen, Air Force civilians and contractors from throughout the 45th Space Wing provided vital support, including weather forecasts, launch and range operations, security, safety, medical and public affairs. The wing also provided its vast network of radar, telemetry, and communications instrumentation to facilitate a safe launch on the Eastern Range.

The Atlas 5 rocket will carry the spacecraft on a two-hour flight to geosynchronous transfer orbit, the normal drop-off point for communications satellites. From there, TDRS-L will maneuver itself into a circular orbit and undergo months of testing before being declared operational.

"What an outstanding performance by an outstanding team," said Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, commander, 45th Space Wing, who also served as the Launch Decision Authority for the 45th Space Wing's second launch of 2014.

On Jan. 6, the 45th Space Wing Sharks supported a SpaceX launch of the Thaicom 6 communications satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 here.

The TDRS-L spacecraft is the second of three new satellites designed to ensure vital operational continuity for NASA by expanding the lifespan of the fleet, which consists of eight satellites in geosynchronous orbit. The spacecraft provide tracking, telemetry, command and high bandwidth data return services for numerous science and human exploration missions orbiting Earth.

These include NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. TDRS-L has a high-performance solar panel designed for more spacecraft power to meet the growing S-band communications requirements.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Airfield systems Airmen maintain a smooth landing

by Staff Sgt. Andrea Salazar
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


1/24/2014 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- It takes more than air traffic controllers and pilots to safely launch and land aircraft. Air traffic controllers and pilots rely on extremely complex equipment.
Without the 374th Communications Squadron airfield systems maintaining this equipment, one malfunction could cause the entire flight line to shut down.

"Our equipment is complex and directly affects how the airfield operates," said Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, 374 CS airfield systems technician. "It is a big responsibility and vital to the overall mission."

One of the airfield systems Airmen maintain is the tactical air navigation beacon, which provides the pilots with bearing and distance to the runway. They also sustain the instrument landing system that guides the aircraft safely to the runway during low visibility conditions.

In addition to those systems, Airmen maintain radio equipment at the air traffic control tower, so that controllers can have clear communication with aircraft and the flight line.

With numerous equipment and systems to maintain, airfield systems Airmen are continuously performing preventative maintenance and inspections to ensure that systems are operating flawlessly and within standards according to Senior Airman Lucas Dugan, 374 CS airfield systems technician.

However, when parts break and equipment fails, Airmen troubleshoot until the equipment is back online and working properly.

"Troubleshooting problems can be time consuming and puzzling," said Senior Airman Jason Badia, 374 CS airfield systems technician. "But seeing how our efforts affect the mission is very rewarding."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

CyberPatriot teams make semis

by 2nd Lt. Meredith Hein
24th Air Force Public Affairs


1/21/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Leadership from the 24th Air Force met with CyberPatriot semi-finalist teams in the San Antonio area Jan. 15-16.

Of the 1,500 teams competing in the national CyberPatriot competition, only 50 made it to the semi-finals. Of those 50, nine teams are from the San Antonio area.

"It was impressive to see the enthusiasm of the CyberPatriot team and how excited they were to have reached the semi-finals of this competition, out of 1500 teams" said Lt. Col. Jim Burleigh, Cyber Mission Forces Planner for 24th AF, following his meeting with the semi-finalist team from Southwest High School. "I think they were surprised as I explained to the team how their work directly relates to some of the Air Force cyber mission sets--protecting our information against those trying to compromise it."

CyberPatriot is a national high school cyber defense competition which aims to inspire high school students towards careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, according to its website. The program was started in 2009 by the Air Force Association at the 25th Annual AFA Air Warfare Symposium.

"There is a national need to defend the critical infrastructure of the United States," said Col. Matthew Baker, A2 Director and Senior Intelligence Officer from 24th AF while meeting with a CyberPatriot team. "You all have such a bright future. Keep doing what you're doing, and you'll write your own ticket."

Each team is made up of between four and six members, with one alternate. The team's goal is to protect virtual images as fast as possible--essentially, cyber defense.

"We all focus on one operating system, but we switch around a lot," said Steve Flores, team captain from Southwest High School.

Airmen from 24th AF provided mentorship on cyber and leadership while meeting with the teams. "Leaders focus the team's efforts and look over everyone else. Don't be afraid to call yourself a leader," said Burleigh.

The high school semi-finals were conducted Jan. 17-19. After that round, 12 teams will move on to the CyberPatriot finals in Washington, D.C.

Middle school teams were allowed to compete this year for the first time in the competition's history. A team from Scobee Middle School in San Antonio made it to the semi-finals in this first iteration. More than 100 teams participated in the middle school competition, with 12 teams making the semi-finals round. The final two will go on to compete in Washington, D.C.

Baker spoke to the Scobee Middle School team Jan. 16, relating the CyberPatriot competition to the mission the 24th AF is carrying out every day.

"It's my job to know what the other guy is doing so we can defend and keep our systems safe," he said.
Baker also emphasized the value of teamwork in this competition: "The days of individuals operating on their own are over. It takes a team effort."

The six-person team is made up of 7th and 8th graders, who are proactive in their network defense.

"It's really been them," said John Bushong, coach of the Scobee Middle School team. "Their motivation is what gets them through problems."

Saturday, January 18, 2014

4th Space Squadron set to leave Holloman

by 49th Wing Public Affairs

1/17/2014 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The Secretary of the Air Force announced today that the 4th Space Control Squadron, currently located at Holloman AFB, N.M., will collocate with the 76th Space Control Squadron at Peterson AFB, Colo., this year.

Approximately 90 active duty positions will be affected by the move.

The 4th SPCS and associated equipment will be moved to realize efficiencies between like units, create more effective mission training, increase availability of deployable forces, and reduce the training and sustainment burden for Air Force Space Command and the Space and Missile Systems Center.

This move is one of several proposed changes for Holloman.

As F-22 Raptors from Holloman AFB transition to Tyndall AFB, the installation is poised to become a training base for F-16s, which are programmed to be in use for at least 20 more years.

Holloman AFB will receive 56 F-16s in their aircraft inventory by October of 2015, with the first two aircraft arriving in April of this year.

The F-16 training mission will join the remotely piloted aircraft schoolhouse already in place at Holloman.

After the collocation of the space control squadrons and the F-16 transition are complete, Holloman AFB is ultimately expected to grow by approximately 300 personnel, when taking into account all of the various programmed manpower moves planned.

"The base continues to be a key installation for critical missions," said Timothy Bridges, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations. "It remains one of the most vital assets in our national security portfolio."

Friday, January 17, 2014

Obama Announces Reforms for NSA Data-collection Program



 
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2014 – President Barack Obama today announced a series of reforms for a controversial National Security Agency data-collection program that he said would give Americans confidence their privacy is being protected and allow U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies to continue safeguarding the nation.

The president delivered remarks at the Department of Justice, presenting results of the administration's review of U.S. signals intelligence programs, seven months after some of the NSA’s most sensitive surveillance programs were leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In December, the president’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies recommended more than 40 changes at the NSA in a wide-ranging report.

Obama also issued a presidential policy directive about U.S. SIGINT activities that he said will clearly prescribe what the United States does and does not do with respect to overseas surveillance.

And he said he has made clear to the intelligence community that the United States will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of its close friends and allies unless there is a compelling national security purpose.

“What’s really at stake is how we remain true to who we are in a world that is remaking itself at dizzying speed,” Obama said.

“Whether it’s the ability of individuals to communicate ideas, to access information … or to forge bonds with people on other sides of the globe,” he added, “technology is remaking what is possible for individuals and for institutions, and for the international order.”

Over the last six months the president said he has created the outside Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies to make recommendations for reform, consulted with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, listened to foreign partners, privacy advocates and industry leaders, and with those in his administration has considered how to approach intelligence in an era of diffuse threats and technological revolution.

Everyone who examined the problems, Obama said, recognizes that the United States has real enemies and threats and that intelligence serves a vital role in confronting them. They also recognized that challenges to privacy do not come from government alone, the president said.

“Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data, and use it for commercial purposes,” Obama said. “That’s how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and your smartphone periodically. But all of us understand that the standards for government surveillance must be higher.”

Among the reforms, Obama approved a new presidential directive for SIGINT activities at home and abroad.

The guidance, he said, will strengthen executive branch oversight of intelligence activities and ensure that the United States takes into account security requirements and alliances, trade and investment relationships, and a commitment to privacy and basic liberties.

Every year the administration will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets, the president said. The reforms will also provide greater transparency about surveillance activities and fortify safeguards that protect the privacy of U.S. persons.

“Since we began this review, including information being released today, we’ve declassified over 40 opinions and orders of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which provides judicial review of some of our most sensitive intelligence activities, including the Section 702 program targeting foreign individuals overseas and the Section 215 telephone metadata program,” Obama said.

The president said he is directing the Director of National Intelligence, along with the attorney general, to annually review and when possible declassify future opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court with broad privacy implications and report to the president and Congress on the efforts.

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he fully support Obama’s outlined reforms as the defense secretary and as former co-chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board and a former member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“These programs must always balance the need to defend our national security with the responsibility to preserve America's individual liberties and the president's decisions and recommendations will do that,” Hagel said.

“They will help restore the confidence of the American people and our allies and partners, they will preserve important capabilities that keep us safe,” he added, “and they will help the men and women of America's military continue to accomplish their missions all over the world.”

Obama also is calling on Congress to authorize the establishment of a panel of advocates from outside government to provide an independent voice in significant cases before the court.

And the administration will provide more protections for activities conducted under Section 702, which allows the government to intercept the communications of foreign targets overseas who have information that is important for U.S. national security.

The FBI relies in during investigations on National Security Letters, which can require companies to provide information to the government without revealing the orders to the subject under investigation.

But in the interest of transparency, Obama said he has directed the attorney general to amend how the letters are used so such secrecy will terminate within a fixed time unless the government demonstrates a real need for further secrecy.

And the administration will let communications providers make public more information about the orders they receive to provide data to the government, Obama said.

Regarding reforms of Section 215, the bulk collection of telephone records, Obama repeated that the program does not involve the content of phone calls or the names of callers.

The program grew out of a desire to address a gap identified after 9/11 and was designed to map the communications of terrorists, the president said, and it consolidates the phone records into a database the government can query if it has a specific lead.

“The Review Group turned up no indication that this database has been intentionally abused and I believe it is important that the capability this program is designed to meet is preserved,” Obama said, adding that he thinks critics are right to point out that without proper safeguards such a program could be used to give more information about private lives and open the door to more intrusive bulk-collection programs in the future.

“I am therefore ordering a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk-metadata program as it currently exists and establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata,” the president said.

Because more must be done to determine how a new system will work, Obama has ordered that the transition proceed in two steps:

1. Starting now, investigators will pursue only phone calls that are two steps removed, rather than three, from a number associated with a terrorist organization. Obama directed the attorney general to work with the FIS Court so during the transition the database can be queried only after a judicial finding or in the case of a true emergency.

2. Obama said he told the intelligence community and the attorney general to use this transition period to develop options for a new approach in which the government doesn’t hold the metadata but that matches capabilities and fills the gaps the Section 215 program was designed to address.

The president said officials will report back to him with options before the program comes up for reauthorization on March 28, and meanwhile Obama will consult with congressional committees and then seek congressional authorization for the new program.

To make sure the reforms are put in place, Obama said he is making important changes to how the government is organized.

The State Department will designate a senior officer to coordinate diplomacy on technology and SIGINT issues, the White House will appoint a senior official to implement the new privacy safeguards, and the president will devote resources to centralize and improve the process used to handle foreign requests for legal assistance, “keeping our high standards for privacy while helping foreign partners fight crime and terrorism,” he said.

Obama also has asked his counselor, John Podesta, to lead a comprehensive review of privacy and big data, a term describing a massive volume of structured and unstructured data that is difficult to process using traditional database and software techniques.

“While the reforms that I have announced will point us in a new direction, I am mindful that more work will be needed in the future,” Obama said. “One thing I’m certain of: this debate will make us stronger. And I also know that in this time of change, the United States of America will have to lead.”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Identity management: What's your digital footprint?

by Capt. Victoria Porto
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs


1/6/2014 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- "We are our greatest threat," said Capt. Lauren Quinn, Air Force Special Operations Command military information support operations program manager.

She wasn't addressing our Airmen about a failed operation or training mishap. She was talking to a room full of Hurlburt Field's key spouses during a recent discussion on identity management.

"We put out so much information about our lives and our personal info," she said. "When you post something online, you put it out there for your friends and family, but adversaries and commercial entities are pulling this data all the time."

While many service members receive numerous briefings on operations security throughout their career, this discussion was part of a new initiative in U.S. Special Operations Command's Preservation of the Force and Family program to reach out to family members about the importance of protecting their digital identity and having an awareness of their presence online.

"This is important to us because we want to keep ourselves safe and our families safe," said one of the spouses in attendance.

Quinn reminded the spouses that when people post their personal preferences, family photos, vacation plans and more on websites and social media pages, they are essentially publishing a free database for others to collect information about their lives.

With military families especially, posts about their spouse's deployed location or the timeframe they will be apart can be aggregated to reveal potentially sensitive information not just about one family, but perhaps an entire unit's mission.

Aside from these free resources, information can also be obtained by phishing for passwords or account information, checking geotagged metadata for the location a photo was taken, and even through key-logging malware and facial recognition technology.

Ultimately, the decision on what to post or how much to share online is often a personal or family decision. The military cannot control what spouses or extended family members post.

"You can get to a certain point, but then you have to trust that people will think twice about what they do and say online," another spouse said. "It's hard to do, you just have to trust."

To further build that trust, Quinn, in addition to base OPSEC and information operations personnel will continue to teach people to think about what they share online and who they are really sharing with.

Most of all, they will remind Air Commandos and their families to put the 'quiet' back in 'quiet professional.'

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Getting 'readi' for cyber readiness

by Senior Airman Mary O'Dell
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


1/14/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE-Wash. -- In February, Team Fairchild will undergo its first ever Command Cyber Readiness Inspection.

This is a Defense Information Systems Agency-led inspection designed to assess the security posture of Fairchild's unclassified and classified networks compliance with DISA security policy and directives.

"All of the work the 92nd Communications Squadron does to keep our network running securely is dependent on us," said Senior Airman Nicholas Leggett, 92nd CS communications security accountant and assistant wing information assurance manager. "Following policies and procedures to keep unauthorized users and software from getting on our network is a top priority."

Some information important to remember includes:

· Removing Common Access Cards to lock computers when not attended.
· Sharing passwords is prohibited. Any compromised passwords must be reported to your information assurance officer and changed immediately.
· Always reboot computers, never just log off. This will ensure patches and updates are installed.
· Properly mark all removable media-like Compact Discs with the appropriate classification sticker.

"Sending 'For Official Use Only' and Personally Identifiable Information documents is another important process users should know how to do," said Leggett. "All of this information and more is available to each network user on base."

Legget also said the CCRI will inspect the network infrastructure, vulnerability scans, wireless security and, perhaps most importantly, traditional and physical security. Users will also be approached and asked to demonstrate proper use, policy and procedure.

Although the majority of the CCRI will happen in the 92nd CS, each user on Fairchild has a role to play to ensure collective success.

"Our focus has shifted over the past few months to ensure that Team Fairchild is compliant with all current Department of Defense security directives," said Maj. Steven Brummitt, 92nd CS commander. "However, customer service for the 92nd CS and 141st CF will always remain a top priority."

For more information regarding the inspection or information assurance and protection, contact your unit IAO.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Think before you post



Think before you post

By Lt. Col Patricia Tate, 7th Medical Operations Squadron commander 

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Have you ever had one of those days that it seems like you are working harder than your coworkers? You made 100 widgets and your coworker has only made 50. So, what do you do when you perceive the workload as unfair? Do you go home and blast your frustrations out on social media for all to see or do you sit in your duty section and complain about it so all can hear about how unfair it is?

This type of negative energy, that may appear harmless to you, is like a poison on morale in your organization ...especially if you are 'friends' with coworkers on a social media site. Yes, everyone is entitled to vent after a frustrating day, but to place your frustrations on a social media site or vent about it in your work area so all can hear is not conducive to a healthy work atmosphere and it detracts from good order and discipline. There are positive ways to deal with a frustrating day at work without venting about it on social media or negative talk in the workplace.

Changing your attitude to look at things in a positive manner about the situation can change your perspective about work and life. Zig Ziegler said, "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." Besides, there may be things going on in your coworker's life that has impacted their ability to produce 100 widgets on that day and you don't have, nor do you need, the intel into such matters. Instead of looking at your coworkers and comparing your job output to their job output, look at yourself in the mirror and ask, "Did I do my absolute best today, not only for the organization, but for myself?"

If there are things that are going on in the organization that frustrate you, speak to your supervisor. There may be changes going on in the organization that have not been clearly communicated. The main point is, don't blast your frustrations out on social media or discuss them in the duty section because it creates a negative image of the Air Force; it is unprofessional and the words cannot be removed or taken back. There is a time and place to vent, but negative talk leads to poor morale which zaps the focus of where the energy needs to be spent ...toward production and job performance. It is in your hands to create the type of workplace where there is positive energy, quality work production and high job performance.