Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Data Summit Syncs Joint Strategy, Standards

 Jan. 27, 2021 | BY JUSTIN EIMERS, PEO C3T

More than 20 one- and two-star generals, flag officers and senior executive service members from the Joint Staff, Services and Combatant Commands converged on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, Jan. 26, for a Joint All-Domain Command and Control data summit hosted by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Dennis A. Crall, the director of the Joint Staff's J-6.

The event was held to discuss the JADC2 strategy,  data standards, application programming interfaces, access management and data security and infrastructure. Without standards in place and an agreement on key components of the JADC2 concept strategic approach, data sharing in a joint fight will never be realized.

"Today is a stage-setting event," Crall said of the summit. "This particular meeting is about making sure that the framework is in place and that we understand who is responsible for each part of the [JADC2] strategy.

A man in uniform and wearing a mask observes a meeting.

"We all have ideas and investments in those ideas, and it's time to pull those ideas together. If we do this right, we'll have the right decisions made up front, by the right decision-makers, and then kick those outcomes to specific capabilities that meet the needs of each service," he added.

The JADC2 strategy — a comprehensive document charting the path forward for JADC2's development — is currently being developed by the Joint Staff J-6, with input from across the Department of Defense.

Sessions throughout the day honed in on specific JADC2 strategy lines of effort, priority Joint interoperability challenges and governance. One session in particular, focusing on a "common data fabric," spawned more than an hour of discussion to come to an agreed- upon definition that enables the JADC2 concept strategic approach. Defining exactly what "data fabric" means is critical to developing the enterprise framework and in executing its implementation. JADC2 is defined as the warfighting capability itself enables warfighters to sense, make sense and act at all levels and phases of war, across all domains, and with partners to deliver information advantage at the speed of relevance.

The summit brought together key stakeholders across the U.S. government's data community to continue positive momentum in shaping inter-service data agreements and turning JADC2 from concept to reality.

"What we've been doing for the last six or seven months is enabling this body [of decision-makers] to have this JADC2 vision and then execute it," Mr. David Spirk, the Chief Data Officer for the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer said. "We have given [the Joint Services] the path and we're asking them to drive us to this open systems data architecture."

A civilian, seated at a table, speaks.

Summit participants included additional representatives from the Joint Staff alongside the Army, Air Force, Navy, Space Force, Department of Homeland Security and NATO information and network management organizations. Together, this community is driving tangible outcomes through joint collaboration to ensure data is shared and converged seamlessly at all levels where it makes sense, both in experimental and operational environments.

"I don't think these are simple objectives but I do think they are easily attainable," Crall said. "We can no longer afford to live the way we have been living."

The next JADC2 Data Summit is slated for mid-April.

(Justin Eimers is a public affairs specialist with the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical.)

Software Modernization Means Moving Faster, Smarter

 Jan. 27, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Software modernization is about delivering better software at a much greater speed to the warfighters, the Defense Department's acting director, chief information officer said.

Danielle Metz provided a keynote address today from the Pentagon via remote video to Federal Computer Week's Cloud Security and Services Workshop.

A woman seated at a computer speaks.

The goal, she said, is to increase technological capabilities across the department and strengthen overall adoption of enterprise systems to expand the competitive space in the cyber domain, as outlined in the Digital Modernization Strategy, which is a cornerstone of the National Defense Strategy.

That is achieved through innovation, resilient cybersecurity and cultivation of talent, she added.

Metz spoke about the great power competition with Russia and China and how it relates to cyberspace and other domains: "We can't always count on having the newest capability or the greatest capacity in our forces. We must identify new advantages of our near-peer adversaries, and how we operate as a cohesive, integrated joint force. The Digital Modernization Strategy is the pursuit of new sources of advantage in future conflicts.

"Lots of the traditional advantages that DOD has enjoyed are being eroded and will continue to erode over the next 10 years, we need to look for new sources of advantage," Metz continued.

The way the department develops and deploys software production systems is a source of new advantage, she said. This source is the bedrock of the department's software modernization strategy. 

Two people, amid an array of electronics, talk.

The challenge, according to a recent DOD report, is recruiting, retaining, managing and developing a robust software workforce. 

"There are two major institutional and cultural challenges that we are tackling: the rapid delivery of small amounts of capability into production, and transforming the processes to focus on software delivery, instead of hardware platforms," she said.

The first cultural challenge is the rapid delivery of small amounts of capability into production. This is now common practice in the commercial software development industry. Current industry wisdom is to adopt a dev ops [development of information technology operations], or dev sec ops [referring to cybersecurity] model, delivering a minimum viable product, she said.

Dev ops, or development of information technology operations, has to do with the goal of increasing the speed of software delivery by enabling continuous collaboration, communication, automation and integration. Dev sec ops is a shortcut for dev ops, with the added "sec" referring to cybersecurity.

An airman works on a computer.

The second cultural challenge is that nearly all of the processes in the department push back on the idea of rapid delivery of small amounts of capability into production, she said. These processes have been refined throughout the decades of building big hardware-intensive weapons platforms. 

However, not everything that a department delivers is an aircraft carrier or a bomber or satellite constellation, Metz said. 

The way the department budgets, does acquisitions and build requirements, all need to be transformed in order to deliver more agility, she said.

"We are actively improving those business processes and changing the conversation [about] how we deliver software. There is good work going on in every area," Metz said.

Department of Justice Launches Global Action Against NetWalker Ransomware

 NetWalker Defendant Charged, Dark Web Resource Disabled, Nearly $500,000 Seized

The Department of Justice today announced a coordinated international law enforcement action to disrupt a sophisticated form of ransomware known as NetWalker.

NetWalker ransomware has impacted numerous victims, including companies, municipalities, hospitals, law enforcement, emergency services, school districts, colleges, and universities. Attacks have specifically targeted the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking advantage of the global crisis to extort victims.

“We are striking back against the growing threat of ransomware by not only bringing criminal charges against the responsible actors, but also disrupting criminal online infrastructure and, wherever possible, recovering ransom payments extorted from victims,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “Ransomware victims should know that coming forward to law enforcement as soon as possible after an attack can lead to significant results like those achieved in today’s multi-faceted operation.”

The NetWalker action includes charges against a Canadian national in relation to NetWalker ransomware attacks in which tens of millions of dollars were allegedly obtained, the seizure of approximately $454,530.19 in cryptocurrency from ransom payments, and the disablement of a dark web hidden resource used to communicate with NetWalker ransomware victims.

“This action reflects the resolve of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida to target and disrupt sophisticated, international cybercrime schemes,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez for the Middle District of Florida.  “While these individuals believe they operate anonymously in the digital space, we have the skill and tenacity to identify and prosecute these actors to the full extent of the law and seize their criminal proceeds.”

Seizure page of dark web hidden resource used to communicate with NetWalker ransomware victimsAccording to court documents, NetWalker operates as a so-called ransomware-as-a-service model, featuring “developers” and “affiliates.” Developers are responsible for creating and updating the ransomware and making it available to affiliates. Affiliates are responsible for identifying and attacking high-value victims with the ransomware, according to the affidavit. After a victim pays, developers and affiliates split the ransom.

“This case illustrates the FBI’s capabilities and global partnerships in tracking ransomware attackers, unmasking them, and holding them accountable for their alleged criminal actions,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael F. McPherson of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office. “If you are a victim of ransomware, contact your local FBI field office or submit a tip to You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at”

Seizure page of dark web hidden resource used to communicate with NetWalker ransomware victims.

According to the affidavit, once a victim’s computer network is compromised and data is encrypted, actors that deploy NetWalker deliver a file, or ransom note, to the victim. Using Tor, a computer network designed to facilitate anonymous communication over the internet, the victim is then provided with the amount of ransom demanded and instructions for payment.

Actors that deploy NetWalker commonly gain unauthorized access to a victim’s computer network days or weeks prior to the delivery of the ransom note. During this time, they surreptitiously elevate their privileges within the network while spreading the ransomware from workstation to workstation. They then send the ransom note only once they are satisfied that they have sufficiently infiltrated the victim’s network to extort payment, according to the affidavit.

According to an indictment unsealed today, Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins of Gatineau, a Canadian national, was charged in the Middle District of Florida. Vachon-Desjardins is alleged to have obtained at least over $27.6 million as a result of the offenses charged in the indictment.

The Justice Department further announced that on Jan. 10, law enforcement seized approximately $454,530.19 in cryptocurrency, which was comprised of ransom payments made by victims of three separate NetWalker ransomware attacks.

This week, authorities in Bulgaria also seized a dark web hidden resource used by NetWalker ransomware affiliates to provide payment instructions and communicate with victims. Visitors to the resource will now find a seizure banner that notifies them that it has been seized by law enforcement authorities.

The investigation was led by the FBI’s Tampa field office.

Trial Attorneys S. Riane Harper and Brian Mund of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carlton C. Gammons and Suzanne Nebesky of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida are prosecuting the case against Vachon-Desjardins.

Substantial assistance was provided by the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs. Additionally, the Bulgarian National Investigation Service and General Directorate Combating Organized Crime provided substantial assistance in the seizure of the dark web hidden resource.

An indictment is merely an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

2021 Forensic Science R&D Symposium


NIJ and the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) are hosting the annual Forensic Science Research and Development (R&D) Symposium on February 16, 2021 from 10:00 AM CT to 5:40 PM CT for researchers and practitioners to discuss, discover, and share new approaches and applications to increase the impact of forensic science.

This year's event will be completely virtual. Participants will have access to a virtual poster session and be able to choose freely between two concurrent presentation tracks. Those who register for the symposium will automatically gain access to the virtual poster session as well.

The poster session will be divided into the following categories:

  • Seized Drugs and Toxicology
  • Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Pathology
  • Impression and Pattern Evidence/Trace Evidence
  • Forensic Biology/DNA


Monday, January 25, 2021

DOD Uses 3D-Printing to Create N95 Respirators


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity's Warfighter Expeditionary Medicine and Treatment Project Management Office, as part of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command's Additive Manufacturing Working Group, has played an integral role in the ramped-up effort to produce N95 respirators for health care and frontline workers across the nation.

As stated on the Food and Drug Administration's website, an N95 respirator is "a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles." Compared to a surgical mask, which is loose-fitting, the edges of the N95 mask are designed to form a very tight seal around the individual's nose and mouth, providing the highest levels of protection against infection from COVID-19.

An airman demonstrates the fit of an N95 respirator.

Air Force Maj. Daniel Williams serves as product manager of the WEMT PMO's N95 respirator efforts at USAMMDA. These include coordinating programmatic and regulatory support, leveraging existing government resources and developing synergies within the Defense Department's organic industrial base to successfully generate N95 respirator products. He explained that his primary task is to ensure the medical device meets military needs and regulatory requirements, and that development of the product remains on schedule and within budget.

In a recent interview, Williams offered a great deal of insight with regard to USAMMDA's N95 respirator efforts, and the work to produce and distribute these products as quickly as possible in the battle against the spread of COVID-19 throughout our nation and the world.

As product manager within the WEMT PMO, please describe your responsibilities in regard to the N95 respirator effort.

The N95 effort is a slightly atypical experience, in that we are primarily working with DOD partners who have never manufactured medical devices. However, they have extensive experience in various methods of manufacturing, including additive manufacturing, also known as three-dimensional, or 3D printing. So, our primary responsibility is assisting these DOD manufacturers in navigating the medical device world, including compliance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health regulations. Further, we facilitate test and evaluation of their products, by leveraging DOD laboratories and government partners to obtain performance feedback on respirator prototypes.

Please describe the features of the N95 respirator, and why this device is superior to others currently on the market. What is its significance, especially with regard to COVID-19?

It's not so much superiority as it is availability. One of the highest levels of respiratory protection for medical purposes, to include viral infection, is a NIOSH-certified N95 respirator. These come in multiple forms, but all are held to the same standard of filtering at least 95% of relevant particles, such as the Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 virus. Most people are familiar with what is called an FFR, or a filtering facepiece respirator. These are the standard disposable, one-time-use products typically worn by our health care workers. However, at this time, these types of masks are nearly impossible to 3D-print. Our group has been working on what is called an elastomeric half-mask respirator, which is a reusable frame produced by a 3D printer, with a disposable media or cartridge that filters at the 95% level.

Various prototype N95 masks are shown.

When the pandemic hit, the on-hand supply of N95 respirators, specifically FFRs, was quickly exhausted and traditional N95 manufacturers were not prepared to meet this new demand. Therefore, the primary purpose of the N95 working group is to develop N95 respirators to supplement existing supplies of respirators, as well as to develop new manufacturing capabilities within the DOD's organic industrial base, which consists of military arsenals, maintenance depots and ammunition factories. Ensuring the DOD has the capability to independently manufacture protective respiratory devices will help to protect frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will also help to maintain our military readiness in the face of future pandemics or biothreats.

Please detail the current status of the N95 program, and explain what lies ahead.

Currently, we've partnered with multiple organizations across the DOD including the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and the Defense Logistics Agency to support N95 respirator design, manufacturing and distribution through existing logistics. To date, we've facilitated testing of 18 iterations of respirator design, and two have successfully passed preliminary evaluation at the Army's Combat Capabilities Development Command's Chemical Biological Center. Our next steps will be to assist these manufacturers with the NIOSH application and process, to obtain an N95 certification for these respirators. Further, we are continuously seeking new partners within the DOD who have N95-related efforts, so that we may be able to assist.

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly illustrated that civilian medical supply chains were unprepared to rapidly scale-up production of critical medical supplies such as medical personal protective equipment, including N95 respirators. Although this crisis will end, the next one could come along at any time. Additionally, the impact of critical medical supply shortages on military readiness could occur again in future battlefields from natural pandemics or biothreat agents. By continuing to focus on producing medical devices within the DOD organic industrial base, we can translate the lessons we've learned with medical personal protective equipment shortages into better preparedness for the next medical crisis, as well as for future conflicts in a multi-domain operational environment.

Why was the WEMT PMO tasked with the N95 respirator effort?

The WEMT PMO's everyday mission is to develop and deliver medical devices to our service partners in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our program office was able to naturally pivot and leverage our staff's medical product development expertise and apply it to the crisis at hand. This is truly what project managers do — we find creative ways to deliver effective, suitable and timely medical solutions when and where they are needed most.

Please list the other members of the N95 respirator program team and detail their responsibilities in the overall effort.

The team has been phenomenal and is comprised of many professionals. However, the N95 program is actually a subgroup of the USAMRDC's Additive Manufacturing Working Group, and nothing could have been accomplished without its assistance and guidance. The AMWG oversees three specific product lines: diagnostic swabs, ventilator parts and accessories, and the N95 respirator. As the lead for the N95 line of effort, I was tasked with outlining FDA and NIOSH requirements, initiating agreements between organizations and leading an N95 working group to facilitate collaboration amongst all of our partners.

The N95 team specifically, can really be split into three different components, and we'd be nowhere without the ongoing collaborative effort from each component. First are our manufacturing partners, the U.S. Navy Underwater Warfare Center-Keyport, U.S. Forces Korea, Defense Logistics Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. These organizations have the technical and subject matter expertise to not only design an N95 respirator, but actually to produce it through additive manufacturing methods.

Second is our AMWG team members at USAMRDC, comprised of the Office of Regulated Activities, Office of the Principal Assistant for Acquisition, Legal office, and USAMMDA's Office of Research and Technology Applications and the WEMT PMO. The USAMRDC ensures all regulatory requirements for the respirator have been met, appropriate agreements are in place between organizations, and that any concerns with patents or intellectual property on the respirator designs have been addressed. It also provides clinical expertise on potential products, and facilitates test and evaluation of N95 respirator prototypes.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Army's Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center. The CCDC CBC has been evaluating all forms of respirators for decades, and has an unparalleled knowledge of respirator design and evaluation. Once our manufacturing partners have produced a prototype, it is sent to CCDC CBC for evaluation to determine whether it will meet the NIOSH standards for an N95 respirator. The CCDC CBC has been critical in providing performance feedback and offering design suggestions for our manufacturers, allowing iterative prototyping to expedite development of respirators.

Other than for the current pandemic, what are some other uses of the N95 mask?

The N95 was thrust into the spotlight due to COVID-19 being an airborne respiratory illness. However, the N95 respirator has long been used as medical PPE to prevent against other airborne illnesses, as well as in industrial settings to protect workers against airborne environmental toxins. Therefore, even when the COVID-19 pandemic ends, the N95 respirator will still be a much-needed product in these types of situations.

A soldier conducts a respirator fit test for an airman.

Is there anything else you would like to say regarding the N95 working group?

Tireless effort is put in on a daily basis, from N95 working group members, internal and external to USAMMDA and USAMRDC, to USAMMDA's higher headquarters. It has been such an honor to work with such an amazing group of professionals, spanning the medical and non-medical communities, and a truly unique experience to see so many different specialties come together for a common goal. I am extremely grateful to have been a part of it, and I would like to say a sincere "thank you" to everyone involved!

USAMMDA is a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, under the Army Futures Command. As the premier developer of world-class military medical capabilities, USAMMDA is responsible for developing and delivering critical products designed to protect and preserve the lives of warfighters across the globe. These products include drugs, vaccines, biologics, devices and medical support equipment intended to maximize survival of casualties on the battlefield.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Artificial Intelligence Is a Work in Progress, Official Says

Jan. 22, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Expectations are high that artificial intelligence will be a game changer for the military — and it is, in fact, one of the Defense Department's top priorities.

"We're in the very early days of a very long history of continued very rapid development in the AI field," said William Scherlis, director of the Information Innovation Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He spoke yesterday at a virtual panel discussion at the Defense One Genius Machines 2021 summit.

There are a lot of moving parts to AI that must come together to make it all work for the warfighter, he said.

A vessel gets underway on a river; two docks and a large, concrete bridge supports are in the background.

Components include, machine learning, symbolic reasoning, statistical learning, knowledge representation, search and planning, data, cloud infrastructure, algorithms and computing, he said.

"If you want to do strategy planning, then you're gonna have a mashup of machine learning with, maybe, game theory and a few other elements. So when we talk about AI, sometimes people are referring to just machine-learning algorithms and data and training. But in the systems engineering context, we're really talking about how to build systems that, that have elements of AI capability embedded within them," he said.

Scherlis discussed the history of AI, back to the 1940s and noted that there were three waves of development.

The first wave involved symbolic AI, which has explicit rules, such as if it's raining, then bring an umbrella, he said. Commercial income tax programs operate this way, using rules, logic and reasoning to reach a conclusion. 

A person-size robot holds a piece of equipment used to cut through drywall on the side of a building.

The second wave involved neural nets, which Scherlis refers to as statistical AI. Neural nets attempt to replicate higher-order human thinking skills, such as problem solving.

All AI relies on having good data. But although data is certainly important, the real game-changer for AI will be the third wave where symbolic is meshed with statistical to get the best of both worlds, Scherlis predicted.

"This is a wide open research area, but there's a lot of good work in this area — and I think it's very promising," he said, referring to third wave research.

This third wave will need to focus on how AI systems interact with humans in a productive and symbiotic way, he said. 

Jet flies through high above Earth

Warriors will have to understand what it's like to have an AI as a trusted team member, he said.

Currently, AI isn't yet ready for prime time, he said. It's still fragile, opaque, biased and not robust enough, which means it does not yet have trustworthiness.

"At DARPA, we have another number of programs that are, that are addressing these challenges," he added.

Space Force Exists to Deal With Threats in Space Domain, Vice Chairman Says

Jan. 22, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Threats by Russia and China to deny U.S. access and capability in space make the Space Force critical to national security, said the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, spoke at an online National Security Space Association "Space Time" event today.

Two men dressed in military uniforms work outside on communications gear.

Critical space assets include GPS; missile warning; reconnaissance; and position, navigation and timing.

"Russia and China are building capabilities to challenge us in space because if they can challenge us in space, they understand as dependent as we are in space capabilities that they can challenge us as a nation," Hyten said.

"Therefore, it is our responsibility as leaders of the defense enterprise to make sure that we continue to educate the population about the threats that we face and, then, put forth recommendations to deal with those threats in a rapid, responsive way," he said.

In a time of conflict, DOD must deny adversaries access to space while maintaining its own freedom to maneuver in that domain, he mentioned.

A satellite flies in space.

Russia and China are both building antisatellite weapons and other military space assets at an alarmingly fast rate, he noted.

As a result, the department has to go fast in defining joint requirements and delivering capable systems to counter the threat, he said. "We accelerate because our adversaries are accelerating."

In going fast, you have to accept a certain amount of risk, he added.

Two men dressed in military uniforms kneel on the ground to work on satellite communications; mountains are in the background.

Besides moving fast, Hyten said space systems programs need to have agility and adaptability built into them.

He noted there's bipartisan support for the Space Force, and he expects the newest service, along with Space Command, to continue to make great strides in the new administration.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Russian Hacker Pleads Guilty to Administering a Website that Catered to Criminals

SAN DIEGO – Kirill Victorovich Firsov, a Russian citizen, pleaded guilty in federal court today to a cybercrime, admitting that he was the administrator of a website that catered to cyber criminals by virtually selling items such as stolen credit card information, other personal information and services to be used for criminal activity.

According to the plea agreement, Firsov was well-compensated as the administrator of DEER.IO, an online platform which catered to cyber criminals. DEER.IO was a Russian-based platform that allowed criminals to set up cyber storefronts and sell illegal products or services. DEER.IO started operations as of at least October 2013, and, as of March 2020, had approximately 3,000 shops with sales exceeding $17 million. 

DEER.IO offered a turnkey online storefront design and hosting platform, from which cybercriminals could advertise and sell their products, such as harvested credentials, hacked servers, and services, such as assistance performing a panoply of cyber hacking activities.  As detailed above, a criminal could simply “sign up,” “configure wallets to receive funds,” “upload products,” and “get money.”

Once the criminal paid to set up their store on the DEER.IO platform, the site then guided the newly-minted shop owner through an automated set-up to upload the products and services on offer through the shop and configure crypto-currency wallets to collect payments for the purchased products and/or services. A cybercriminal who wanted to sell contraband or offer criminal services through DEER.IO could purchase a storefront directly from the DEER.IO website for 800 Rubles (approximately $12.50) per month. The monthly fee was payable by Bitcoin or a variety of online Russian payment methods such as WebMoney, a Russian based money transfer system similar to PayPal.

The shop owner had the option to purchase a storefront name linked to DEER.IO or one its subdomains, like DEER.ST, DEER.IS or DEER.EE (e.g., https://[SHOP NAME], such as ONLYFB.DEER.IO, SHIKISHOP.DEER.IO and SELLACCSS.DEER.IS), or a custom name (e.g., https://[SHOP NAME], such as SQLBAZAR.SHOP and ISIS.RENTS.HOUSE), which directed the prospective buyer to the storefront infrastructure hosted on DEER.IO.

A cybercriminal who wanted to purchase from storefronts on the DEER.IO website could use a web browser to navigate to the DEER.IO domain, which contained a search function that allowed individuals to search a catalog for specific items or browse popular storefronts containing items to purchase. Any purchases were conducted using cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, or through Russian-based money transfer systems. For example, as reflected above, a cybercriminal could purchase stolen Uber accounts with associated credit card information from SHIKISHOP.DEER.IO.  To make these purchases, the prospective buyer just needed to click on the cart on the right-hand side of the screen.

An initial scan through DEER.IO storefronts revealed thousands of compromised accounts posted for sale, including Personally Identifiable Information (PII) files containing full U.S. Social Security Numbers, dates of birth and victim addresses. Many of these victims were located in Europe and the United States, including victims in San Diego.

Firsov is set for sentencing before Judge Cynthia Bashant on April 12, 2021.

“This was one-stop shopping for criminals,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “Cybercrime is one of the most pervasive threats facing our country. Data is being stolen and sold on the Dark Web every day, and we are devoting significant resources to combatting this serious problem.” Brewer commended the excellent work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra F. Foster and the FBI agents on this case.

“The internet allows cybercriminals and our adversaries to attack Americans in new and unexpected ways.  Therefore, the FBI is constantly pivoting to staying ahead of the evolving nature of cyber threats,” said Suzanne Turner, Special Agent in Charge of FBI's San Diego Field Office.  “The seizure of the DEER.IO website and conviction of Firsov is an example of the FBI cyber program’s investigative prowess and jurisdictional reach in order to identify, locate and bring to justice anyone who attempts to profit from harm to U.S. persons, businesses and infrastructure.”

If victimized in a cyber security incident, the FBI encourages companies to immediately contact the FBI.  Specialized cyber agents will work with companies to protect company information and the personal data of its customers. Please contact the FBI San Diego's cyber program by calling our field office at (858) 320-1800 or submitting tips at Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

DEFENDANT                                            Case Number 20cr1182-BAS                                    

Kirill Victorovich Firsov                             Age:     29                      Moscow, Russia


Unauthorized Solicitation of Access Devices (18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(6))

Maximum Penalty: Ten years in prison, $250,000 fine.



DOD Incorporating AI Ethics Into Systems Engineering, Official Says

 Jan. 21, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Artificial intelligence is one of the Defense Department's top technology modernization priorities.

Because AI enables autonomy, decision making and system execution at incredibly fast speeds, department officials felt strongly that ethical considerations should go into its design and employment, Alka Patel, head of artificial intelligence ethics policy at the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, said today at the Defense One Genius Machines 2021 virtual summit.

Two people look at wall-mounted computer screens.

These ethical principles build on the department's long history of ethical adoption of new technologies and rules of engagement and warfare, she added.

The Defense Innovation Board spent months developing the principles and consulted with leading AI and technical experts, as well as current and former DOD leaders and the American public, she said.

Those principles state:

  • DOD personnel will exercise appropriate levels of judgment and care while remaining responsible for the development, deployment and use of AI capabilities.
  • The department will take deliberate steps to minimize unintended bias in AI capabilities.
  • The department's AI capabilities will be developed and deployed such that relevant personnel possess an appropriate understanding of the technology, development processes and operational methods, including transparent and auditable methodologies, data sources and design procedures and documentation.
  • The department's AI capabilities will have explicit, well-defined uses, and the safety, security and effectiveness of such capabilities will be subject to testing and assurance within those defined uses across their life cycles.
  • The department will design and engineer AI capabilities: (1) to fulfill their intended functions while possessing the ability to detect and avoid unintended consequences, and (2) to disengage or deactivate deployed systems that demonstrate unintended behavior.

Now that the principles have been established, the department is going about operationalizing them to AI applications across the services, she said, adding that it's a tall but necessary order. Training and education of ethical AI practices across the department also goes hand-in-hand with that.

Five words describing DOD ethical principles for artificial intelligence are part of an infographic. They include, “responsible,” “equitable,” “traceable,” “reliable” and “governable.”

Another important part of AI ethics is sharing the conversation with allies and partners, so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to how ethics comes to play in interoperability, she said.

Sharing the conversation with corporations that are helping the department in its AI efforts is also important, Patel said. Companies and their employees need assurance that what they are helping to build will be used in an ethically responsible manner and, in turn, that they need to build it to ethical standards.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Partnerships, COVID-19 are Catalysts for Enterprise Virtual Health

 Jan. 20, 2021 | BY William Wheeler , Defense Health Agency

In the pre-COVID-19 world, nearly all health care was delivered in person within brick-and-mortar facilities. Telehealth, referred to in the Defense Department as virtual health or VH, was a promise of the future — a capability whose time had not quite yet arrived. VH, in those pre-pandemic days, was relegated to pilot demonstrations and to specific specialties, such as behavioral health, delivered in limited settings.

As with so many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped away long-held health care delivery practices and assumptions. Questions stopped being about if or even when VH would "take off" and started to be about how to maximize VH's scope and reach in as short of a timeframe as possible. Mirroring the rest of the health care field, the DOD rapidly scaled up VH capabilities, guidance, training, procedures, and provider and beneficiary communication and education. Over a period of weeks, the result was a multi-fold increase in overall VH capacity that supported basic clinical services across the DOD enterprise.

Two nurses work on virtual health projects.

From a VH perspective, the pre-COVID-19 world is likely gone. VH as a core health care capability is here to stay. The Military Health System's path forward can build upon COVID-19 and pre-existing efforts to develop enterprise VH capabilities that connect service members and their families to optimal health care — wherever and whenever it is needed.

To achieve this goal, it is important to realize that VH is not a single technology or business platform, or even group of platforms. Rather, it is about people, processes and technologies working together across the entire MHS to create health care access solutions on behalf of our 9.6 million beneficiaries around the world. 

The MHS is leveraging the experiences and workflows developed rapidly in response to COVID-19 to catalyze transformational change in enterprise use of VH. Coordination among multiple key stakeholders is essential and already underway to develop sustainable solutions that meet real MHS-wide needs. These stakeholders include:

  • The newly emerging Defense Health Agency markets — regional clusters of MHS military medical treatment facilities.
  • An enterprise-wide Virtual Medical Center.
  • A variety of DHA headquarters offices, including the DHA Connected Health Branch's Virtual Health Clinical Integration Office.
  • The TRICARE private sector care network.
  •  The military services and interagency partners such as the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Many Systems Into One

For years, service-based enterprise, regional health care leaders and military treatment facilities spearheaded individual initiatives that built useful VH capabilities in a number of locations across the MHS. This approach, however, resulted in fragmented availability of VH capabilities across the more than 700 MTFs constituting the MHS. In addition, the TRICARE private sector care network permitted VH care only under limited circumstances.

In the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress required the DOD to expand VH across a wide spectrum of services and specialties, and across all direct (MTF-based) care and private sector care networks. Furthermore, Congress required that this VH expansion occur within the context of a consolidation and unification of non-deployed health care under the Defense Health Agency. Since then, the DHA, the services and their stakeholders have been working to prioritize, fund and deliver integrated enterprise VH capabilities to medical centers and clinics, patient locations in the community, and settings in the field. 

An elderly man speaks with a doctor during a virtual health meeting.

These efforts have one goal: create an integrated, comprehensive, high-quality, and reliable VH capability that reaches from forward deployment to fixed medical facilities, community settings, and to DOD partners such as the Department of Veteran Affairs. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, as profound as it has been, greatly accelerated a process of enterprise VH expansion that is already ongoing.

Success of this endeavor would provide field units, clinics, inpatient facilities, managed care network providers and virtual providers with the flexibility to meet patient needs regardless of location, while leveraging enterprise-wide competency, technical, procedural and quality standards. This capability will turn VH into a powerful force multiplier for the MHS, delivering great health outcomes, support for a ready medical force, and enhanced beneficiary satisfaction. By increasing provider and support staff reach, capability and effectiveness, VH will also help with the DHA's goal of a fulfilled staff.

Looking Ahead

The COVID-19 pandemic is still testing MHS' ability to use existing tools, training and procedures to mount an aggressively accelerated deployment of VH capabilities. As we envision post-pandemic growth of virtual health, the MHS will need to continue to expand VH capabilities across its enterprise, while planning for the comprehensive and integrated tools and approaches that will make such growth sustainable in the long term.

Fielding any technology-based capability — including virtual health — takes a lot of pre-planning, collaboration and effort. The development, acquisition and sustainment of VH platforms across the MHS enterprise is an especially complex undertaking. 

A man in a suit is shown in a graphic banner.

The MHS has many requirements beyond those followed by the non-DOD health care industry. In addition to providing safe, convenient quality services, MHS VH must support military readiness and deployed health care while operating within an environment of enhanced government regulation and heightened security. Meeting these requirements necessitates planning for all appropriate contingencies including natural and man-made disasters and global emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results of these efforts, on the part of the MHS and its partners will be a virtual health capability that provides universal and global access to high-quality care and consultation to all beneficiaries, regardless of location or circumstance. This future state will be worth the effort for providers, and most importantly for patients, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. 

Jamie L. Adler is the lead for the DHA's Virtual Health Clinical Integration Office, part of the DHA Connected Health Branch, under DHA Medical Affairs.

(William Wheeler is assigned to the Defense Health Agency Connected Health.)