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23 Jan 19. AECOM selected by AWE plc to deliver key project as part of the U.K.’s nuclear deterrence program. AECOM (NYSE:ACM), a premier, fully integrated infrastructure firm, and AWE plc. have signed a contract naming AECOM as the delivery partner to AWE for its Nuclear Capability project, a key component of the U.K. government’s nuclear deterrence program. The scope of the contract includes the decommissioning and demolition of current facilities, the completion of new facilities and the management and transportation of material across sites. The contract, for an initial commitment of £2m (approximately USD$3m) until 2020, has a potential expenditure of £360m (approximately USD$500m) expected to span at least 12 years. The value of AECOM’s contract was included in AECOM’s backlog in the first quarter of fiscal 2019.
“We are proud to be selected as AWE’s delivery partner for this important work in support of the U.K.’s nuclear deterrence program,” said Michael S. Burke, AECOM’s chairman and chief executive officer. “For the past several years, we have demonstrated our leading project management and nuclear decommissioning expertise both in the U.S. and internationally, including several key U.S. Department of Energy sites, and are continuing to invest in this business to capitalize on an attractive pipeline of innovative programs, such as this with AWE. We look forward to building a long-term relationship with AWE that safely delivers outstanding value for all stakeholders.”
In the U.K., AECOM is the lead member of the Parent Body Organisation that manages the Low Level Waste Repository in Cumbria. It is also a member of the Parent Body Organisation at the Dounreay nuclear site near Thurso, Scotland. Dennis Thompson, who was previously the Managing Director at the Low Level Waste Repository for seven years, will lead the AECOM Delivery Partner team for AWE. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
19 Jan 19. French defense chief touts offensive tack in new cyber strategy. The French military plans to develop and deploy offensive cyber weapons and improve the protection of its networks from “security events,” Defense Minister Florence Parly announced here this morning.
“Today, France is choosing to procure cyber weapons for its military operations. We consider the cyber weapon as a full-fledged operational weapon,” she said.
“We will use it proportionately,” Parly added, noting at the same time, “We will not be scared of using it.”
“On average we have more than two security events daily,” Parly said, “some of which were aimed directly at us [whilst] others were aimed at our industries and partners.” She revealed a serious breach of security, which lasted from late 2017 to April 2018, that could have imperiled the navy’s entire fuel chain. “In case of a cyberattack against our forces, we reserve the right to retaliate, in a legal framework, with the means and at the moment of our choosing,” Parly said. “We also reserve the right, whoever the attacker is, to neutralize the effects and the digital means employed.”
She added: “We will also be ready to employ the cyber weapon on foreign operations for offensive purposes, on its own or to support our conventional means, or to multiply their effects.”
Part of the €1.6bn ($1.8bn) earmarked in the 2019-2025 military program law for cyber defense would be used to hire “1,000 cyber fighters” between now and 2025, according to the defense minister. Some of those would be under the orders of Brig. Gen. Olivier Bonnet de Paillerets, commander of the French cyber-defense force founded in 2017. Others would be employed by the DGA procurement agency or by the DGSE, France’s foreign intelligence service. Parly noted that “cyber fighters on foreign operations will benefit from the same protection as our military.”
Following Parly’s speech, Gen. François Lecointre, the chief of staff of the French armed forces, announced that Bonnet de Paillerets would craft a new offensive cyberwarfare doctrine meant to “ensure the defense of our interests and the preservation of our sovereignty.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
22 Jan 19. The US Army wants to use AI to prevent cyberattacks. If the U.S. Army has its way, soldiers deployed on the battlefield will be shielded from cyberattacks without human involvement. The Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground is conducting research into how artificial intelligence can protect soldiers’ tactical networks and communications from cyberattacks, according to a Jan 14. announcement.
Among the areas of research are ways for machine learning to automatically detect known cyber vulnerabilities, spot previously unknown malware and respond to a cyberattack.
After the market research is submitted, the Army will use the submissions for informational and planning purposes only. The Army’s hunt for AI research comes as the Pentagon has grown more interested in defending against cyberattacks that itself use machine learning. It is a future where machines will fight machines in cyberspace. That concern was evident in the service’s announcement.
“The cyber technology will secure automated network decisions and defend against adaptive autonomous cyberattacks at machine speed,” the Army wrote.
Evidence of the Army’s focus on AI was evident during the 2018 CyCon US conference in November. The Army is interested in three primary categories of artificial intelligence attacks, Maj. Nathan Bastian, a researcher at the Army Cyber Institute said during the conference.
First, data poisoning is a method in which an attacker inserts malicious information into a data set. Because artificial intelligence relies on these data sets to make decisions, their manipulation blunts machine learning’s effectiveness, Bastian said.
Second, an attack on artificial intelligence can take place by changing the classification methods. For example, if a cat is incorrectly labeled as a dog, than artificial intelligence’s use is mitigated, Bastian said.
Third, an inference attack, or figuring out where machine learning’s boundaries lie, can be a weapon to defeat artificial intelligence. By discovering the limitations of the machine’s algorithm, Bastian said hackers can manipulate its effectiveness.
The Department of Defense has expanded its research into AI in recent months.
In October 2018, the service created its AI task force, which is located at Carnegie Mellon University. Projects are initiated by the Army Futures Command. The Pentagon also created its Joint AI Center in the summer of 2018.
At the CyCon conference, Brig. Gen. Matthew Easley, head of the Army’s new AI task force, said that the Pentagon needs to integrate commercial AI products.
“The commercial sector is driving current breakthroughs in applications of AI,” Easley said.
Easley laid out four principles for what the Army sees as a successful AI project. They include clean data, an articulate use case, talent and technology.
However, Easley cautioned about the boundaries of machine learning during the event. Limitations of AI can include a sample size that is too small and limited ability to use the machine learning in the field. He also said that AI struggles to detect zero-day attacks, which are programming bugs.
“AI is not all that easy,” Easley said. “Realizing the potential of AI will require major transformation,” for the Pentagon. (Source: Fifth Domain)
21 Jan 19. Specialists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) tested NATO’s strategic communications during Exercise Trident Juncture. The biggest NATO exercise since 2015 saw around 50,000 troops deploy to Norway and Iceland for the three-month-long training, with Dstl spending five weeks on the exercise.
Dstl worked with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division, the Joint Warfare Centre and Supreme Allied Command Transformation to deliver an assessment of the tools NATO used for public engagement around the exercise. Results revealed better public engagement, as well as the development of a framework which will allow NATO to achieve the ‘information advantage.’
A strategic communications specialist from Dstl said: “This is about winning the information war, as well as the frontline one. We need to combine what we know about both elements to be successful. Online media has changed the way we do business in this area. We provided evidence which changed the way NATO did business in terms of their external communications for that exercise, and for future processes. In five weeks we were able to identify, analyse and assess, and then advise NATO communicators on how to use online media to their best advantage. The impact was huge; we effected significant change in terms of cut-through of positive messaging about NATO.”
The work involved tracking hashtags and sentiment, monitoring the information environment and advising NATO on how to gain traction and impact with its online presence. Analysis of external media was also tracked, alongside NATO’s own communications about the exercise. The Information Fusion Cell director from Joint Force Command Naples said: “The scientists are inspirational ambassadors for Dstl and are greatly valued at Joint Force Command Naples.”
21 Jan 19. Australia’s military chief warns Europe of cyber crime dangers. Chief of Defence General Angus Campbell has stressed the ever-present threat of cyber crime to top European officials at an international policy institute in Brussels.
GEN Campbell’s concerns regarding cyber espionage and intellectual property theft echo the growing concerns of the government, which has significantly stepped up its funding of cyber security in recent years.
“The opportunities that the connected world provide are very significant, with the potential for very significant damage, both to companies and to institutions that we hold dear and also to states more broadly,” GENCampbell said in his address. “We’ve seen companies suffer devastating electronic attack. We have seen institutions undermined and we have seen countries shut down. All of these things have happened and there’s a potential, therefore, for them to happen into the future.”
GEN Campbell also noted that there has been an “extraordinary up-tick” in cyber crime, which includes international espionage, economic theft and corporate crime, and pointed out that the internet is currently “ineffectively governed”.
The Chief of Defence avoided pointing fingers at any specific country, saying it’s more of a global issue than any one nation.
“The question at play nationally is how do we appropriately build some effective governance mechanisms without losing the value we all appreciate from the internet,” GEN Campbell said. “This is a really important part of the modern evolution of our societies, our economies and our body politic.”
China, Russia, Iran and North Korea account for the majority of “significant cyber incidents” worldwide, and as recently as last month, Chinese hackers were discovered having compromised the European Union’s communication systems, allowing them access to sensitive information for several years. The US, alongside Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand accused China in December of conducting cyber espionage against companies across 12 countries for over a decade, and saw the indictment of two hackers associated with the campaign. (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Jan 19. T-Worx’s Intelligent Rail product receives US Army approval. US-based technology innovation company T-Worx Holdings has received a memorandum of approval from the US Army for its power and data rail product, Intelligent Rail. The approval was granted after a successful validation testing of Intelligent Rail, developed through the US Army Small Business Innovative Research programme in 2008. T-Worx had signed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the US Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC). The patented Intelligent Rail platform received approval from soldiers during its 2018 Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP) evaluation.
Intelligent Rail is designed to provide a unified power source for apps and accessories and a way to securely connect and communicate data from weapons such as rifles to commanders or command centres on the base, according to T-Worx.
The Intelligent Rail technology also helps enhance situational awareness between soldiers and commanders in the battlefield.
T-Worx Holdings executive chairman Devin Schain said: “Anything critical to the modernisation of warfighters’ weaponry, safety and lives must be tested in an environment similar to where it will be deployed and in consideration of additional Department of Defense use.”
During testing, the power and data platform product demonstrated the capability needed to reduce risk to troops.
With the certification, T-Worx will now support competitors that are participating in the army’s forthcoming Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSW) programme.
Schain added: “We are proud to work with the US Army team supporting its small arms modernisation efforts.
“The company is poised to help make a difference in modern warfare and real-time intelligence of the American warfighter.” (Source: army-technology.com)
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra has a proven record of accomplishment – with over 15 years of experience in delivering secure communications and cybersecurity solutions for governments around the globe; elite militaries; and private enterprises of all sizes.
As a dynamic, agile, security accredited organisation, Spectra can leverage this experience to deliver Cyber Advisory and secure Hosted and Managed Solutions on time, to spec and on budget, ensuring compliance with industry standards and best practices.
Spectra’s SlingShot® is a unique low SWaP system that enables in-service U/VHF tactical radios to utilise Inmarsat’s commercial satellite network for BLOS COTM. Including omnidirectional antenna for the man, vehicle, maritime and aviation platforms, the tactical net can broadcast over 1000s miles between forward units and a rear HQ, no matter how or where the deployment. Unlike many BLOS options, SlingShot maintains full COTM (Communications On The Move) capability and low size and weight
On 23 November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced that it had recently been listed as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier for 2015-2016 by the UK Crown Commercial Services
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 BATTLESPACE Businessman of the Year by BATTLESPACE magazine and is a finalist in the inaugural British Ex-Forces In Business Awards in the Innovator Of The Year category.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.