Sponsored by Spectra Group
20 Jul 23. SlingShot Tactical Operations Centre System (STOCS) gets UHF Commercial Band Upgrade.
Spectra Group, the specialist provider of secure voice, data and satellite communications systems has expanded the capability of its battle proven SlingShot Tactical Operations Centre System (STOCS) to include the low UHF commercial band (410– 440Mhz) thereby increasing the flexibility and utility of this robust and reliable SlingShot system.
The concept for STOCS was born from a specialist military user’s requirement to remote the antenna away from the user’s radio, such as in a tactical headquarters/operations room, to enhance the user’s protection or where it was required due to the configuration of a mobile platform. First launched in October 2020, the STOCS hardware consists of a hub, power unit, cable reel and antenna which is British built to military standards and hence ruggedized and weatherproofed (IP67) to enable the user to leave it in a more exposed position, without any risk of damaging the electronics due to adverse weather.
Since its launch, over 120 specialist and regular units across land, sea and air domains from over ten different countries globally (including NATO members) have purchased and operationally proven the benefits of adding STOCS to their SlingShot portfolio. When fitted it allows users to maximise all the existing benefits of Spectra Group’s award winning and combat proven SlingShot – quickly, efficiently and securely communicating beyond line of sight (BLOS) and, if needed, while on the move (COTM) while at the same time having the flexibility to operate the radio up to 35 meters from the antenna. In partnership with Inmarsat’ L-TAC satellite link service for the last 10 years, there are now over 7000 SlingShot systems in use with government forces globally, all capitalizing on the capability to create strategic communications for secure voice and data, without the need to purchase new radios and hence minimising the training burden for security forces. The inclusion of commercial band UHF to the existing military VHF/UHF capability therefore significantly enhances Slingshot’s interoperability and flexibility in deployment, for all types of organisation requiring secure rapidly deployable satellite communications in austere environments around the world.
Simon Davies, CEO of Spectra Group said: “we pride ourselves at Spectra Group in delivering reliable and secure communications to those that need it most in the most austere and demanding of locations. The addition of commercial band UHF to the STOCS capability is just another innovation to meet our customer’s operational demands and increases the overall SlingShot offering. The design follows the remainder of the SlingShot family in that it is extremely simple for the user to set up, operate and requires no configuration.”
14 Jul 23. Detego Global Redefines Digital Evidence Analysis with the Launch of Analyse AI+. Detego Global, provider of award-winning digital forensic software solutions, proudly announces the release of Detego Analyse AI+. This latest offering marks a significant enhancement to Detego’s central analytical platform and incorporates state-of-the-art AI technology to empower investigators and accelerate the analysis of vital evidence.
Detego Analyse AI+ takes the investigator-centric capabilities of Detego Analyse to new heights, cementing its position as the go-to solution for on-scene and lab-based investigators in the corporate, military and law enforcement sectors. Analyse AI+ unveils a suite of cutting-edge tools, such as AI-powered semantic search, rapid identification of similar images and patterns, lightning-fast AI audio/video transcription and the real-time translation and transcription of audio and video evidence. Alongside these groundbreaking features, Detego Analyse AI+ continues to deliver industry-leading capabilities that investigators have come to trust, including advanced AI-powered object detection, multi-language OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and offline document translation from over 230 languages to English.
Among the key features of Detego Analyse AI+ is the advanced semantic search which helps investigators save hours of manual data sifting by leveraging AI to search for broader concepts and contexts within images and videos. This tool significantly reduces the limitations of keyword searches. It helps investigators pinpoint any advanced concepts such as “men in masks with automatic weapons in London at night”, “drug deals in a black sports car belonging to a specific brand”, “screenshots of customer account details”, “distressed children” and “uniformed teams holding flags with terror-related symbology”. The solution also provides investigators with the ability to swiftly scan evidence for similar images by uploading a reference image or by utilising the “show similar” feature on existing images – helping accurately match specific locations, signs, movements and objects as well as unique patterns or designs in tattoos, wallpapers, graffiti or clothes – all in a matter of seconds.
Another ground-breaking feature is Detego Analyse AI+’s rapid AI transcription functionality which accurately transcribes and indexes words from a wide range of audio and video files including voice notes, voicemails, video messages, and social posts and stories, recording transcription speeds well over 1,000 words per minute. This in turn helps eliminate the need to manually review hours of audio/video recordings and helps investigators to identify data that’s related to investigations by using advanced text and keyword matching capabilities on the data indexed from any audio and video files.
Cross-border/international investigations are also further strengthened with the new AI-powered translation capabilities. In addition to the offline document translation capabilities from over 230 languages to English through Detego Analyse, Analyse AI+ allows investigators to translate and transcribe audio/video content from over 50 languages, including Arabic, Swahili and Russian, to English in real-time. This new feature will play a key role in enabling investigators to efficiently analyse and extract critical information that might go unnoticed due to limited access to translation capabilities.
Analyse AI+ also allows investigators to uncover hidden files using enhanced compound file steganography, delivers improved evidence management features and provides users with enhanced tag management capabilities for better organisation and control of evidence. Users can now save filters to specific exhibits or make them available across all exhibits, ensuring seamless and consistent filtering across investigations.
The new release also introduces various other enhancements, including optimised video frame processing, improved support for GrayKey extractions, and greater support for MSAB imports stemming from the technological partnership with MSAB that’s gone from strength to strength.
Sharing his thoughts on this game-changing release, Detego Global’s Managing Director, Andy Lister, had this to say: “We are really thrilled to launch Analyse AI+. With several global technology patents for solutions including Ballistic Imager and Field Triage, we’ve demonstrated our commitment to delivering innovative technology that helps investigators combat crime more effectively, and the release of Analyse AI+ is no different. This release bears testament to our ability to work closely with our customers and experts within the digital forensics community to develop new tools to help overcome their investigative challenges.”
Earlier this year, the previous version of Detego Analyse was selected as a finalist for the UK’s Security and Policing Innovation Award for its application of AI technology, ease of use and ability to automate workflows to deliver greater productivity. While the unique technology that goes into the solution is worth thousands of dollars, Detego Analyse AI+ will remain one of the few comprehensive digital forensic analytical tools provided free of charge. Any investigator purchasing the company’s coveted data extraction tools will get free access to Detego Analyse AI+. These tools include Ballistic Imager, the world’s fastest forensic imaging tool; Field Triage, which delivers fast yet accurate triage; Media Acquisition, which enables the simultaneous analysis and acquisition of data from multiple sources; and Detego MD, the mobile forensic tool powered by GMD SOFT that provides insights from 10,000s of phone models, apps, smart devices and more.
Analyse AI+ is only part of the extensive product roadmap planned out by Detego Global in its bid to empower digital investigators in the military, law enforcement and corporate sectors with cutting-edge solutions that eliminate backlogs and accelerate the delivery of justice.
To learn more about Detego Analyse AI+ and its features, or to get a first-hand look at its capabilities with a fully-functional, 30-day trial, visit www.detegoglobal.co
About Detego Global
Detego Global is the company behind award-winning Digital Forensics, Case Management and Endpoint Monitoring solutions that are trusted by the military, law enforcement teams, intelligence agencies and enterprises around the world.
With the ever-increasing use of digital devices and the corresponding mass of data that’s created, Detego Global’s solutions have become the preferred choice for rapidly acquiring, analysing and acting on evidence and intelligence.
20 Jul 23. APT41 employs mobile malware in espionage campaign; heightened risk for organisations in strategic sectors. On 18 July, security researchers from cyber security firm Lookout reported that the Chinese advanced persistent threat (APT) group, ‘APT41’, is installing two Android surveillanceware programs (‘WyrmSpy’ and ‘DragonEgg’) onto mobile devices as part of a new campaign. In this campaign, the mobile malware is disguised as a default Android system application for notifications. Newer variants have also been disguised as adult video content, food delivery, Adobe Flash and Telegram applications to encourage users to download them. Both malware are capable of obtaining administrator privileges, reading log files and the infected device’s location, as well as exfiltrating files and photos, and reading or writing text messages. Therefore, it is highly likely that this campaign is intended for espionage purposes. Typically, APT41 will conduct mobile-based attacks against specific targets, having previously targeted NGO employees, political activists and foreign government employees. However, this operation is more generic in its targeting, as the applications being impersonated are widely used across demographics. Nevertheless, APT41 is notorious for targeting government agencies, as well as software and telecommunication firms in espionage campaigns, meaning that these sectors will continue to face a heightened risk of APT41 exploitation. (Source: Sibylline)
19 Jul 23. Chief Digital & Artificial Intelligence Office Celebrates First Year. The Chief Digital & Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) reached one year of operations this month with several achievements in creating, implementing, and steering digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI) in the Department of Defense (DoD).
Announced in December 2021, the CDAO was established on June 1, 2022. The CDAO made significant strides in setting policies, guidelines, and the structure to guide AI development in the DoD with the goal of enabling an enduring advantage for America’s armed forces.
Within the first year, the CDAO achieved significant accomplishments, most importantly, introducing the foundation of defense AI systems, including an AI hierarchy of needs and the establishment of five strategic initiatives that outline the DoD’s path to AI-enablement in FY2023: digital talent management; improved data quality; AI/ML scaffolding; business performance metrics; and the Combined Joint All-Domain Command & Control (CJADC2) system.
Digital Talent Management – The CDAO was designated as the DoD’s Functional Workforce Manager for data, analytics, and AI personnel, allowing the CDAO to set standards for the digital workforce. It established an executive training program to increase our senior leaders’ digital literacy. The CDAO also launched a pilot program for 1,500 employees to expand access to MIT Horizon’s library of resources to improve digital literacy across the DoD.
Improved Data Quality – The Maritime Object Collection project collected 17TB of Coast Guard Air Stations, annotated and labelled over 12,800 images and launched Phase 3 of its plan to develop AI models for use in manned and unmanned aircraft to enable the rapid detection and classification of specific maritime targets. Project Harbinger achieved a significant milestone in the past year by partnering with industry to develop advanced machine learning algorithms for detecting acoustic energies. And finally, the Publicly Available Information (PAI) project has explored overseas open-source information. These models review over 15 million posts daily and filter them down to 100-200 ones of interest, dramatically increasing the efficiency of intelligence analysts.
Business Performance Metrics – The CDAO increased use of the Advana business performance metrics platform from 40,000 registered users to over 72,000 in its first year, and has provided the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense an analytics dashboard called PULSE that enables them to evaluate outcomes across the DoD significantly faster than before.
CJADC2 – The CDAO continues to provide key support to CJADC2, including the continued development of the data integration layer and developing mature software tools to digitize battle management. Also, the CDAO has continued the Global Information Dominance Experiments (GIDE) to test and advance the digital infrastructure of AI systems. GIDE V was completed in January and GIDE VI is currently in progress.
“Our goal was to set the conditions and environment for the Department to tackle the monumental task of transforming its data to make AI systems possible,” said Dr. Craig Martell, Chief Digital & Artificial Intelligence Officer. “We’re excited about the momentum we have built and look forward to getting closer to our goal of AI enablement in our second year.”
The CDAO’s partnership with industry provides the DoD an advantage in AI development. The CDAO continues the Tradewind acquisition program, designed with small business innovation in mind, that has provided nearly 300 solutions to its data and data integration problems, 96% of which came from small businesses. The CDAO also introduced the “TryAI” program, which enables the DoD to test industry solutions quickly before initiating a purchasing action.
Guiding the CDAO’s strategic initiatives has been its commitment to responsible and trusted AI development. The office is instrumental in assisting the Deputy Secretary of Defense to publish the DoD Responsible AI Strategy & Implementation Guidelines and established tenets that will ensure that AI systems are continuously checked and verified, and decisions can be traced to identify and eliminate biases in the data. (Source: U.S. DoD)
19 Jul 23. Statement by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen H. Hicks Marking One Year of the Defense Department’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO). When the Department of Defense stood up the Chief Digital and AI Office (CDAO) last summer, our intent was to accelerate DoD’s adoption of data, analytics, and AI from boardroom to battlefield, because of how essential these technologies are to staying ahead in the strategic competition for the 21st century.
Just over one year later, we’re seeing the impact of bringing four powerful DoD organizations together to craft policies, develop capabilities, collaborate with industry, and innovate at speed and scale for the warfighter.
Here are just a few examples:
- Cleaner datasets are fueling AI models and machine learning algorithms to more rapidly detect specific maritime targets and acoustic signatures;
- Tens of thousands more personnel are using business performance metrics, helping senior leaders measure outcomes more rapidly across DoD;
- Military commanders are collaborating with teams of data scientists that we’ve deployed at every Combatant Command to work on problems that our warfighters find most vexing, while integrating data across applications, systems, and users;
- The creation of a data integration layer for Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2) is making us even better than we already are at joint operations and combat integration;
- We’re conducting an ongoing series of Global Information Dominance Experiments that are advancing the digital infrastructure of AI systems, data-centric workflows, and C2 concepts, taking the U.S. military’s decision advantage superiority to the next level.
I’ve seen clearly over the last year that our investments in data and AI are yielding returns much faster than most new defense capabilities. We don’t have to wait multiple years or a decade for them to bear fruit; they’re producing and delivering for the warfighter in the here and now, in matters of months, weeks, and even days.
As CDAO embarks on its second year, I know it will only contribute more to our military’s enduring advantage. (Source: U.S. DoD)
20 Jul 23. Thales confirms its key role to provide cybersecurity for Galileo Second Generation to meet tomorrow’s threats
- Thales has been notified by the European Space Agency (ESA), on behalf of the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) and the European Union represented by the European Commission, of two major contracts for cybersecurity of Galileo Second Generation (G2G) programme.
- Together, these contracts represent a total value of over 60 million euros (excluding options) and confirm the Group’s key role in the cybersecurity of the second generation of the Galileo programme as Thales will be in charge of all elements of the security and resilience of G2G.
- On 17 May 2023, Thales was awarded the contract for security monitoring on the G2G system infrastructure.
- This award follows the cybersecurity specification and design contract for the Galileo Second Generation system, which was confirmed on 17 April 2023. It will significantly improve the performance of the second-generation Galileo system, with the introduction of new services, stronger resilience functionality, and future additional features for the PRS1 navigation service for government users.
- As a major partner of the EU Space Programme to ensure the security of the Galileo system, Thales, as a European leader in cybersecurity, has been working with the Agency for over 20 years to contribute to the security of the Galileo programme, Europe’s largest satellite programme, providing sovereign and critical positioning, navigation, and timing services.
Europe’s largest satellite system security monitoring programme
As part of G2G IOV SECMON, Thales is leading the consortium, including the Italian group Leonardo, to expand the scope of security monitoring and include the new assets in the G2G system. It will also introduce automated incident response and network traffic monitoring. In addition, the solution will be capable of storing significant amounts of incident response data. To meet this challenge, Thales will deliver a solution built on a scalable, flexible architecture derived from its Cybels range of security supervision products and incorporating big data capabilities.
A cybersecurity contract for better protection from quantum threats
New threats from quantum computers capable of breaking existing cryptographic algorithms have the potential to compromise long-term data security. Thales has been tasked by ESA within the consortium it leads to draw on its world-renowned cryptography expertise.
Under the “G2G System Engineering and Technical Assistance for security and PRS” contract, Thales will specify and verify the new cybersecurity for the G2G system – taking into account new threats to space systems, security maintenance requirements, improvements to the PRS service for government users– and prepare for system certification. One of the major challenges is to ensure a smooth transition from G1G to G2G while maintaining the level of security and performance offered by the G1G system for member states.
“Thales thanks ESA, EUSPA and the European Commission for its continued confidence in the Group’s expertise in space systems and cybersecurity for critical systems. These security contracts for Galileo Second Generation will bring Europe a more robust system with better protection from quantum threats – a major challenge for the space industry in the decades ahead – and will draw on the Group’s unparalleled big data expertise to provide more effective security monitoring of the world’s leading satellite positioning system,” said Pierre-Yves Jolivet, VP Cyber Solutions, Thales.
The cybersecurity of satellite systems has become a growing concern for satellite operators and space agencies, particularly against a backdrop of geopolitical tensions. Today, thousands of satellites are in orbit, and it is estimated that 10,000 more will be added over the next 10 years, due to the multiplication of uses, from everyday life with the Internet of Things to defense applications.
Through the signing of these two contracts, Thales’s expertise in scalable and flexible architecture and security equipment and protection against cyberattacks will enable the G2G program to strengthen its ability to detect and respond to new cyberthreats. The end-to-end solution proposed by Thales experts will contribute to the development of greater security and resilience of satellites.
In parallel, Thales Alenia Space has been notified of major contracts to design and build with its European consortium the G2G Ground Mission Segment and execute System Engineering Activities. The company will also provide 6 of the 12 satellites of the constellation.
Cybersecurity at Thales
As a global leader in cybersecurity, Thales is involved at every level of the cyber value chain, offering solutions ranging from risk assessment to protection of critical infrastructure, supported by comprehensive threat detection and response capabilities. Its offer is built around three families of cybersecurity products and services, which generated sales of €1.5bn in 2022:
- Global security products around the CipherTrust Data Security Platform the SafeNet Trusted Access Identity & Access Management as a service solution, and the broader cloud protection & licensing offerings
- Sovereign protection products including encryptors and sensors to protect critical information systems
- Cybels solutions portfolio, a complete suite of cybersecurity services including risk assessment, training and simulation, and cyberattack detection and response
Drawing on more than 40 years of experience in cybersecurity and space activities, Thales applies the principles of “cybersecurity by design” to the products it develops for satellite operators and space agencies. With more than 4,000 cybersecurity specialists, Thales helps to ensure the security of satellite systems for national and European space programmes – in particular Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation programme – and at the international level. With its combined expertise in cutting-edge satellite systems and cybersecurity solutions relying on the latest military technologies, Thales offers governments, institutions and enterprise customers a comprehensive range of cybersecurity solutions to guarantee robust protection of all the elements of a space system. In April 2023, Thales demonstrated its expertise in offensive security at CYSAT, managing to take remote control of an ESA demonstration satellite, in order to anticipate and respond to current and future threats.
1 « Public Regulated Service » refers to Galileo’s service for governmental use
Galileo is European Union’s global navigation satellite system (GNSS). Operational since 15 December 2016, Galileo’s initial services are fully interoperable with GPS, while offering users an expanded range of performance and service levels, along with far more accurate positioning. All smartphones sold in the European Single Market are now guaranteed Galileo-enabled. In addition, Galileo is making a difference across the fields of rail and maritime transportation, agriculture, financial timing services and rescue operations. Unlike the American GPS, Russian GLONASS and Chinese Beidou satellite navigation systems, which are operated by the armed forces, Galileo is the world’s only GNSS system under civilian control.
To date, Galileo is scheduled to comprise a constellation of up to 38 first-generation satellites, transmitting stations for satellite control and telemetry, transmitting stations for mission data, two security monitoring centres (in Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Madrid), two system control centres (Oberpfaffenhofen and Fucino) and 16 stations for orbit control and clock synchronisation.
Galileo Second Generation is designed to be flexible and adapt to user needs in the decades ahead. It will also be more robust to withstand the challenges of a constantly changing world, especially the threats of jamming and cybercrime. With unrivalled accuracy and additional authentication capabilities, Galileo will be the world’s most advanced GNSS system.
19 Jul 23. goTenna and Urban Sky achieve unprecedented network coverage spanning over 14,000 square miles. goTenna, the world’s leading provider of mobile mesh networking solutions, and Urban Sky, a leading developer of stratospheric flight and remote sensing technology, announced a groundbreaking achievement in network coverage at the 2023 Tough Stump Tech Rodeo. During this annual off-grid communications and technology expo, Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head (NSWC IHD), Urban Sky, and goTenna showcased their capacity to achieve network coverage across an expansive 14,412 square miles.
The rapid deployment capability of Urban Sky’s balloon, within five minutes of parking a vehicle, introduces a game-changing mobile solution for operators. The combination of this rapid deployment feature and goTenna’s long-range communications capabilities offers ground-based forces a practical and reliable connectivity solution over significant distances.
“This showcase represented a breakthrough in low-cost, rapidly deployable, long-range stratospheric communications,” said Andrew Antonio, Co-founder & CEO of Urban Sky. “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase our new flight vehicle, the Microballoon™, alongside the goTenna and NSWC teams.”
The project was a meticulously coordinated multi-balloon operation, strategically positioning one balloon at Mission Field Airport in Livingston, MO, and the other at Ennis Lake in Ennis, MO. This project was funded by NSWC IHD, a naval research and development organization within the United States Navy.
“This demonstration shows the enhanced capability High-Altitude Balloons (HABs) provide and the goal of NSWC Indian Head in the management and execution of this project is to prove greater capabilities and flexibility for operators and expeditionary units,” said Jason Bruce, Engineering Project Manager of NSWC, Indian Head. “This payload-agnostic system is designed to provide extended over-the-horizon, line of sight connectivity with wider coverage areas, more affordability and time on station, with significantly less maintenance and cost requirements.”
Enabled by Urban Sky stratospheric balloons, goTenna Pro Series devices achieved and maintained an altitude of 57,000 Feet Mean Sea Level (MSL) across two balloons for a flight time of five hours. The elevated positioning provided the ideal platform to establish a Line-of-Sight (LOS) network spanning at least 14,412 square miles, with linear distances exceeding 130 miles from the central balloon.
“The powerful combination of goTenna and Urban Sky empowers military, law enforcement, and public safety operators with the remarkable capability to rapidly deploy expansive, pervasive communications networks anywhere in the world,” said goTenna’s CEO, Ari Schuler. “We are grateful for the invaluable collaboration with Urban Sky and NSWC Indian Head as we advance groundbreaking technologies that revolutionize operational safety by establishing seamless communication in austere environments.”
This achievement builds upon the previous point-to-point record of 126 miles at the 2022 Tough Stump Tech Rodeo.
goTenna believes that preparedness leads to better outcomes – a multi-layered service goTenna provides straight out of the box with network setup, training, and execution. We are advancing universal access to connectivity by building the world’s most intelligent and scalable mobile mesh networks. goTenna is the world’s leading mobile mesh networking company, providing off-grid connectivity solutions for smartphones and other devices and augmenting traditional communications networks. This technology enables mobile, long-range connectivity without cellular service, Wi-Fi, or satellite connectivity. goTenna’s drive to create resilient connectivity began during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 when approximately a third of cell towers and power stations in affected areas failed. Based in Brooklyn, New York, goTenna is a proud partner of the United States military, first responders, and law enforcement, among others, and is backed by investors, including Founders Fund, Union Square Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Collaborative Fund, and Bloomberg Beta. To learn more, please visit https://gotenna.com.
About Urban Sky
Urban Sky, a stratospheric technology and remote sensing company, is developing the innovative new stratospheric Microballoon™, a high-altitude remote sensing platform that is leveraging component miniaturization, first-of-its-kind balloon reusability and the high vantage point of the stratosphere to drastically reduce the cost of high-resolution remote sensing and communications over very broad areas.
About NSWC Indian Head
NSWC IHD is the Department of Defense Energetics Center and serves as the DoD Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Program lead. NSWC IHD focuses on the research, development, test, evaluation and in-service support of energetics and energetic systems. (Source: PR Newswire)
20 Jul 23. Platform integration, commonality challenges hinder CJADC2. The Pentagon’s ongoing maturation of its Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2) capability is being dramatically hindered at the services’ level because of a lack of specific, concrete operational command-and-control (C2) requirements – from well-defined mission threads to a realistic data management strategy – and challenges in integrating legacy systems, according to senior service officials.
The concept behind CJADC2 – the ability to detect, identify, target, and potentially strike anything on the battlefield in any domain at any time – has been a long-standing objective of the US Department of Defense (DoD). However, in the three years since the department kicked off the capability’s development, service leaders tasked with CJADC2 implementation continue to grapple with the viability of the concept at the operational and tactical level. (Source: Janes)
19 Jul 23. Increased use of cyber criminal groups by state-sponsored actors elevates security risks.
In a speech on 18 July, the chief of the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), Graeme Biggar, warned that foreign adversaries are increasingly utilising cyber criminal groups as proxies for malicious activity. He stated that emerging links between groups are creating a more complex threat landscape to protect against. This trend was initially observed by technology company Hewlett-Packard (HP) in early 2022 and has become more widespread since then. The use of cyber criminal groups to conduct state-sponsored campaigns can allow for plausible deniability by nation-states. Such groups also provide off-the-shelf tools that state-sponsored actors can use in operations, rather than needing to develop their own, as observed with Iranian actors earlier this year (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 11 April 2023). Outsourcing campaigns to cyber criminal groups allows state-sponsored actors to save time on malware development and makes it more difficult to attribute the source and identify the motive in each attack. Amid increased geopolitical tensions, state-sponsored actors are highly likely to leverage the growing capabilities of cyber criminal groups, heightening security risks to organisations globally in the long term. (Source: Sibylline)
18 Jul 23. Sluggish procurement stalling Pentagon progress on AI, experts say. The Pentagon’s procurement process is one of several major obstacles hampering efforts to develop and apply artificial intelligence technology, a panel of AI experts told members of Congress Tuesday.
The ninety-minute hearing, convened by the House Armed Services Committee to assess the barriers inhibiting the Department of Defense’s adoption of AI, was framed by bipartisan geopolitical anxieties: how can the U.S. maintain its technological edge over China, and what are the risks of falling behind? Experts said the Pentagon has shown an inability to efficiently identify, acquire, and deploy promising new technology, hurting its bid for AI supremacy.
“One of the challenges in adopting AI in the government, in particular the Department of Defense, is the slow procurement process,” Haniyeh Mahmoudian, an ethicist at the AI platform DataRobot, told lawmakers. “AI is an evolving space and long procurement cycles and delays can lead to obsolete AI tools that will require retraining due to changes in data over time.”
A Government Accountability Office report published last month found that the DoD lacks a “comprehensive department-wide guidance for AI acquisitions.” This oversight, the report said, “could result in acquisition of AI capabilities across the services that does not consistently address the unique challenges associated with AI or the specific needs of the acquiring service.”
The Pentagon piloted an online contract exchange called Tradewind last year to expedite the acquisition of AI technology. Alexandr Wang, the founder and CEO of data processing company Scale AI, thinks the platform is worth building upon.
“What we need to look towards in the next era of AI is doubling down on some of these fast procurement methods and ensuring that we continue to innovate,” he said at the hearing.
Wang’s firm secured $250m in DOD funding last January. The contract bankrolls several data-heavy projects across different branches, including Army robotic combat vehicles and vast, department-wide pattern recognition systems.
The Pentagon’s partnership with Scale epitomized recent efforts by American military leadership to translate its abstract commitments to AI integration into concrete policies and programs. The department launched the Chief Digital and AI Office in 2022 to coordinate the agency’s ever-evolving medley of AI-related proclamations, tests and hardware. The GAO estimates that the newborn office oversees close to 700 AI projects.
A top-down redesign of the agency’s acquisition policies won’t be enough to guarantee American victory in the AI arms race, the witnesses cautioned.
Wang spent much of his testimony knocking the Pentagon’s wasteful approach to data usage.
“AI systems are only as good as the data that they are trained on,” Wang told lawmakers. “The DoD creates more than 22 terabytes of data daily, and because of their outdated data retention and management policies, warfighters, analysts, and operators are unable to tap into its full potential because it is not AI-ready.”
Wang and his peers suspect DoD’s poor data processing capabilities could be the product of insufficient AI-specific military spending.
“China is spending between 1% and 1.5% of its military budget on AI, while the US is spending between 0.1% and 0.2%,” according to Wang. “Adjusted for the total military budget, China is spending ten times more than the U.S.”
The expert panel and their congressional questioners also dissected the DOD’s ethical guidelines surrounding the technology. The agency released a broad set of “ethical principles for the use of AI” in February 2020. The next step, DataRobot’s Mahmoudian said, requires making these “abstract” frameworks “practical” by educating personnel and leadership about the technology’s implications.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), chairman of the Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation subcommittee, painted the consequences of stagnation in stark relief.
“Do we want AI to be leveraged for good and the deterrence of conflict, or evil and the proliferation of it? If the former, the United States must not ‘pause,’” he said in his opening statement. “We must continue developing this revolutionary technology to preserve U.S. technological and moral leadership, and ensure artificial intelligence, and its associated norms and guardrails, are defined by freedom and our ideals, not the CCP’s.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
18 Jul 23. US projected to spend $117bn on nuke command and control in next decade. Operating, upgrading and maintaining the systems the U.S. Department of Defense relies upon to monitor, ready and launch devastating nuclear weapons is expected to cost $117bn over the coming decade, according to independent analysis of federal spending plans.
The price tag for nuclear command, control and communications, or NC3, in 2023-2032 marks a $23bn increase in costs compared to a 10-year estimate made in 2021, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report published July 14. The office updates projections every other year at the direction of lawmakers.
The CBO attributed the increase to a ramping up of nuclear modernization — including the replacement of the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center and E-6B Take Charge and Move Out aircraft — as well as certain items appearing in budgets for the first time.
Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works and RTX, until recently known as Raytheon Technologies, in April announced they would collaborate on the so-called TACAMO, which provides airborne coordination for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
The Biden administration promised to beef up NC3 and further protect the no-fail networks from cyber and electromagnetic attack. Newer nuclear arms are expected to enter the stockpile after 2030. With it comes the opportunity to embed contemporary information technology.
About $756bn would be spent on the nuclear arsenal between 2023 and 2032 if budget requests from the Defense and Energy departments are fully satisfied, the CBO said. Much of nuclear weapons infrastructure, including development labs and production sites, has deteriorated since the Cold War. Weapons, similarly, are undergoing complex refurbishment regimens, known as life-extension programs, to keep them ticking.
“Nuclear weapons have been an important component of U.S. national security since they were developed during World War II,” the CBO said in its report. “Over the coming years, the Congress will need to decide which nuclear forces the United States should field in the future and thus the extent to which the nation will continue to modernize those forces.”
Lawmakers are seeking a potentially clearer catalog of spending on nuclear command, a topic that is closely guarded. Members of the House strategic forces panel, which oversees nuclear safety, nonproliferation, missile defense and other topics, included in a draft of fiscal 2024 defense legislation a provision establishing a major force program for NC3.
Major force programs are featured in Pentagon budgets as groupings of related efforts and resources. They are one of several lenses through which national security investment can be studied or tracked. Existing collections include research and development and support of other nations.
The Biden administration opposes a budget filter for NC3, believing it to be administratively burdensome and disruptive of work already underway.
(Source: C4ISR & Networks)
17 Jul 23. Australia enhances LAND 200-3 command system. Australia will enhance the tactical communications network and battle management systems for its ground forces with the LAND 200-3. The Australian government has given first-pass approval for the third phase of its LAND 200 Battlefield Command Systems (LAND 200-3) project. This simply means that the country’s defence department approves of the project and we can expect the government to issue an open tender later this year for a company to integrate the new systems into Australia’s Defence Force (ADF).
A Battlefield Command System is a digital planning and monitoring system that integrates information together for command and control of military operations in the field.
A tactical communications network is a mobile and secure communications infrastructure that provides voice and data distribution of the Battllefield Command System and other related systems.
The whole infrastructure employs multiple C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) solutions that help the efficiency and security of tactical communications.
“The investment will improve the security and performance of [our] tactical communications network and battle management systems,” according to a statement from the ADF.
A new battlefield command system will increase the speed and quality of decision-making, which is essential to success in military operations. It will also improve communication and co-ordination within the Army and between the land, sea, air, space and cyber elements of the ADF.
LAND 200-3 is a next generation battlefield command and control capability that meets the current and future needs of Australia’s ground forces.
According to the AusTender website, the project consists of two tranches—LAND 200-3 Tranche 1 and LAND 200-3 Tranche 2.
This Project Notice provides industry with an update regarding: the first-pass approval of the project; an overview of the project scope, intended approach and indicative schedule; the expected release of two Request for Tenders in support of LAND 200-3 Tranche 1; and a planned industry webinar to provide some additional context.
A second tranche will also enhance the tactical communications network and consider additional battle management systems.
Australia’s military motivations
According to GlobalData intelligence, Australia hopes to make use of a theatre command and control framework that enables an enhanced integrated force and a developed network of northern bases to provide a platform for logistics support, denial and deterrence.
These objectives are just some of the strategic defence objectives outlined in the country’s 2023 Defence Strategic Review:
“[The ADF] must enhance its cyber domain capabilities to deliver the required responsiveness and breadth of capability to support ADF operations.
“This must focus on: integrating the defence and management of [ADF’s] C4 networks and architectures; delivering a coherent and, where possible, centralised cyber domain capability development and management function; and building and sustaining a trained Defence cyber workforce.”
The Strategic Review provides more detail on how Australia can bring together this advanced battle management system. We can expect the ADF to invest in specific advanced sensor equipment to furnish this Battlefield Command System in the future.
“To meet the demands of the deteriorating security environment, [the ADF] must invest in the targeting systems and processes required to support the use of advanced and long-range weapons, undersea warfare, and integrated air and missile defence.
“Existing plans should be accelerated including development of key supporting systems and processing, exploitation and dissemination of intelligence.” (Source: army-technology.com)
18 Jul 23. Cyber espionage campaign targeting software vendor points to elevated threat to firms. According to media reports earlier on 18 July, the cloud-based IT management service firm ‘JumpCloud’ has been at the centre of a highly targeted cyber espionage campaign since June. An undisclosed state-sponsored threat group is suspected of carrying out the campaign. The breach initially occurred on 22 June via phishing emails which allowed the threat actor to gain partial access to JumpCloud’s internal network. The threat actor used data injection to evade detection and elevate privileges in a likely attempt to steal data for espionage purposes. JumpCloud subsequently discovered unusual activity regarding certain clients. It then rotated all admin application programming interface (API) keys to prevent further exploitation. The campaign targeted a limited number of JumpCloud’s customers, which total around 200,000 globally. The long-term impact of the attack will possibly be widespread, particularly if affected customers are organisations that manage sensitive information. JumpCloud has not yet attributed the attack to a specific state-sponsored threat group. However, state-backed groups are engaging more frequently in espionage-focused campaigns due to increasing geopolitical tensions in various regions around the world. Consequently, global businesses will face an elevated cyber espionage threat in the long term. (Source: Sibylline)
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