Sponsored by Spectra Group
10 Oct 19. Spectra Group to lift the lid on SlingShot success in the US at AUSA 2019 exhibition in Washington DC. Spectra Group (US) Inc will be exhibiting at this year’s Association of the United States Army (AUSA) exhibition (booth #4013), the largest Land Warfare tradeshow in North America taking place in Washington DC, 14-16 October 2019. As a world leader and provider of high-grade information security and communication capabilities, Spectra have secured over 3500 orders for SlingShot systems across 4 continents. Used by over 20 different organisations globally, in mostly NATO countries, SlingShot is rapidly becoming the system of choice for tactical radio users needing increased range, Communications on the Move, flexibility and interoperability.
The small and lightweight SlingShot system has proven to be hugely popular with the United States Special Forces and Intelligence Communities. The system recently achieved safety accreditation from the US Army Test and Evaluation Command for the prestigious US Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWE 2019), which was also witnessed by the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence (CCoE). With successful completion and recommendation from both Battle Labs and its continued deployment with USSOCOM, SlingShot is now set to become the system that will transform tactical communications capabilities throughout the wider US Military.
Produced by Spectra Group in the UK and distributed via several trusted partners in the US, as well as Spectra Group (US) Inc, SlingShot extends the range of standard VHF and UHF radios to beyond line of sight (BLOS), over 1000s of miles, using Inmarsat’s L-TAC service (COMSATCOM). With options that work on any platform, including helicopters, the Manpack version of SlingShot weighs less than 2lbs, including the antenna. Because it is so small, lightweight and with low power requirements, US SOCOM has been using SlingShot in remote operations where there may be no existing communications infrastructure and where troops are required to communicate over extreme distances with their Command HQ. SlingShot provides added flexibility over TACSAT, in that it works on the move using small omni-directional antennas, unifying platforms in complex asymmetric operations. Another reason for SlingShot’s success is its delivery of a unified radio net for interoperability, as successfully tested at AEWE 2019. By linking radios of different native frequencies to a single L-Band net Beyond Line of Sight, SlingShot greatly improves C2 communications when working with coalition partners and other agencies.
In Oct 2018, following contract successes in North America, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd established new offices in Fairfax County with Spectra Group (US) Inc. Spectra Group’s permanent presence in the USA enables closer support for existing partners in North America, as well as dedicated product and service support directly to the end-user.
Simon Davies, CEO at Spectra Group (UK) Ltd said: “We are receiving significant interest in our products and services across North America as well as from around the globe, so our attendance at AUSA 2019 will be another fantastic opportunity to meet customers old and new. Our team will be on hand throughout the exhibition and will be available to discuss your requirements. So please do make contact by visiting us at Booth 4013”.
09 Oct 19. RAN to equip ships with Hawklink digital datalink system. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is to implement the Hawklink Ku-band digital datalink system on major surface fleet units, informed sources told Jane’s on 10 October. When operational, the 10 MB per second uni-directional Hawklink system will enable the real-time transmission to the ships of high-definition video, radar and acoustic sensor data from the RAN’s MH-60R naval helicopters. All 24 of the MH-60Rs, the first of which entered RAN service in 2014, were delivered with Hawklink functionality but RAN ships have yet to be equipped to receive data from the system. This will involve appropriate antennas and integration of the Hawklink data into the ships’ combat systems. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
09 Oct 19. US Navy awards $1.4bn hardware contract. The Navy awarded the hardware portion of its NGEN-R contract to HPI Federal on Oct. 8. The award is the first of two big awards made on contracts that divided the Navy’s massive Next Generation Enterprise Network vehicle into hardware and services portions. HPI Federal, a subsidiary of HP Inc., beat out two other bidders on the nine-year, $1.4bn ceiling contract to supply computers and other devices to at least 400,000 Navy and Marine Corps users. The initial three-year base period is valued at $358m, followed by six one-year options.
“The award of the NGEN-R [end-user hardware] contract is the culmination of several years of hard work towards moving from a single service contract to a multi-sourced contract model,” Capt. Ben McNeal, program manager for the Naval Enterprise Networks Program Office, said in a statement.
The Navy expects to award the second NGEN-R contract covering services, integration and transport in early 2020. That contract is expected to be far larger than the hardware contract, with an estimated ceiling of $3bn.
Perspecta, the incumbent on the unified NGEN vehicle, is bidding for the services portion of the new contract. Leidos and General Dynamics are also reportedly seeking the services contract. Perspecta’s overall deal on the current iteration of NGEN expires at the close of fiscal year 2020, but it could be extended to the end of calendar year 2020. (Source: Defense Systems)
09 Oct 19. 3 strategies DOD can use to plug security holes. An early 2019 report from the Defense Department Officer of Inspector General revealed just how difficult it’s been for federal agencies to stem the tide of cybersecurity threats. Auditors found that although DOD has made significant progress toward bolstering its security posture, 266 cybersecurity vulnerabilities still existed. While some of these vulnerabilities are decades old, the majority have only been discovered within the past year — a sure sign of rising risk levels.
The report cited several areas for improvement, including continuous monitoring and detection processes, security training and more. If the Pentagon is to successfully patch its vulnerabilities and get ahead of escalating threats, it must take action in each of these areas. Here are three strategies DOD can use:
Identify existing threats and vulnerabilities
The OIG said DOD had been able to implement corrective action on previously identified weaknesses, indicating it been able to identify and address vulnerabilities that once plagued its networks.
Being able to do so effectively will become more difficult, however, as the number of devices and cloud-based applications on defense networks continues to proliferate. DOD is just as susceptible to shadow IT — users downloading and using unsanctioned applications — as any enterprise. And although government IT managers have gotten a handle on bring-your-own-device issues, a large number of undetected devices are still used on DOD networks. For example, the OIG report cited some armed services organizations that were unable to completely account for all the digital devices on their networks.
Scanning for applications and devices outside the control of IT is the first step toward plugging potential security holes. Apps like Dropbox and Google Drive may be great for productivity, but they could also expose the agency to risk if they’re not security-hardened. The IT team must be aware of their presence on the network so they can be properly scanned and monitored.
The next step is to scan for hard-to-find vulnerabilities. The OIG report called out the need to improve “information protection processes and procedures.” This includes keeping track of changes made to the system and making sure those changes are properly implemented. Most vulnerabilities occur when configuration changes aren’t properly managed. Automatically scanning for configuration changes and regularly testing for vulnerabilities can help ensure employees follow the proper protocols and increase the department’s security posture.
Implement continuous monitoring, both on-premises and in the cloud
Once these baseline processes are established, the DOD should continuously monitor its IT systems. While the OIG report specifically stated that DOD must continue to proactively monitor its networks, those networks are becoming increasingly dispersed. It’s no longer just about keeping an eye on in-house applications; it’s equally as important to be able to spot potential vulnerabilities in the cloud.
DOD IT managers should go beyond traditional network monitoring — checking for anomalies and potential red flags on its own networks — and look more deeply into the cloud services they use. The ability to see the entire network, including destinations in the cloud, is critically important, especially as DOD becomes more reliant on hosted service providers. This expanded monitoring will help ensure data remains secure while in-flight and at rest.
Establish ongoing user training and education programs
Finally, a well-trained user can be the best protection against vulnerabilities, making it important DOD implement a regular training cadence for its employees.
Certainly, this strategy pertains to IT professionals at the security frontlines. For them, the training might mean a weekly scrum to discuss the latest security threats uncovered and network activity or changes. More formal quarterly trainings could inform teams of new security protocols and processes.
But training shouldn’t be relegated to just the IT team. A recent study indicates insider threats pose some of the greatest risk to government networks. As such, all employees should be trained on the agency’s policies and procedures and encouraged to follow best practices to mitigate potential threats. The National Institute of Standards and Technology provides an excellent guide on how to implement an effective security training program.
When it comes to cybersecurity, DOD has made a great deal of progress, but there’s still room for improvement. By implementing these three best practices, DOD can build off of what it has already accomplished and focus on improvements. (Source: Defense Systems)
09 Oct 19. Thales and Airbus sign joint agreement to detect cyber threats.
- Thales and Airbus CyberSecurity, two European leaders in critical information systems and cybersecurity, join forces to support operators of vital importance against cyber attacks
- Combining their sovereign products, Thales’s cyber attack detection system Cybels Sensor and the Airbus CyberSecurity’s Orion Malware solution will provide businesses and organisations with a qualified solution delivering unrivalled results
- Solution offers unparalleled detection capacities and enables in-depth investigation, combining detection with incident response
Airbus CyberSecurity and Thales, two European…
Airbus CyberSecurity and Thales, two European leaders in cybersecurity, have signed a partnership agreement to offer a unique solution against cyber attacks. The solution will combine the file analysis system Orion Malware from Airbus CyberSecurity with Thales’s intrusion detection system Cybels Sensor, which obtained Security Visa from the French national cybersecurity agency (ANSSI) in April 2019.
This cooperation will enable the two companies to offer the best detection solution on the market, increasing the overall level of cyber defence for businesses and organisations. The partnership for the French market aims to help operators of vital importance reinforce cyber protection measures required by ANSSI with the Military Programming Law (LPM).
The Cybels Sensor detection system from Thales enables OIVs and businesses to detect cyber attacks by confidently monitoring their networks. Through real-time analyses of large data volumes to detect potential threats, the sensor alerts cybersecurity teams as early as possible to maximise the protection of monitored networks. Customers already equipped with this solution, include Le Groupe La Poste and the European Space Agency (ESA) for its Galileo satellite-based positioning system.
In conjunction with the Orion Malware solution developed by Airbus CyberSecurity, suspicious files captured on a network by Cybels Sensor are analysed in depth in less than a minute. After the analysis, Orion Malware returns a report detailing the risks and indicators of compromise. A summary accessible to non-experts is also provided to efficiently prepare the response to the incident.
At the cutting-edge of research, and already in operation to protect institutional and corporate customers, Orion Malware works like a detonation chamber for malware. It combines the best static and dynamic detection engines to detect the stealthiest malware threats. Orion also integrates artificial intelligence to improve the classification of detected malware.
Thanks to the combination of Orion Malware with Cybels Sensor, businesses and organisations can now enhance the overall efficiency of their cyber protection. While offering an unparalleled level of detection, the solution is easy to implement and is fully adapted and optimised for Security Operations Centres (SOCs), incident response and cyber threat intelligence operations. It therefore reduces the costs of operating and protecting IT infrastructure.
08 Oct 19. Artificial Intelligence for the Army’s Big Six Modernisation Priorities. The US Army’s modernisation priorities will fuel a massive expansion in the data generated by soldiers, units and military platforms. It has become clear that artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key role in processing this data – and exploiting the opportunities it provides.
The army has identified six broad areas of focus for its future development: long-range precision fires; next-generation combat vehicles (NGCV); future vertical lift; army network; air and missile defence; and soldier lethality.
As technology evolves across these priorities, there will be a significant increase in the amount of data available to individuals, units, and beyond, said Aneesh Kothari, Vice President for Marketing at Systel, Inc.
Kothari pointed to NGCV, which spans several manned and unmanned vehicle platforms. As such vehicles are upgraded, they are increasingly outfitted with full HD, high-resolution sensor suites and cameras, such as EO/IR systems, generating full motion video (FMV) data.
Those sensors collect immense amounts of data constantly, something that will only expand in the coming years.
‘There is an enormous amount of critical information being presented to the operator,’ Kothari said. ‘This results in potential for overwhelming information overload on the vehicle crewman.’
This is where AI technology and techniques can be utilized to help solve mission-data-processing workloads. The technology can process all vast amounts of data, filter and compartmentalise it in near real-time, ‘taking that cognitive burden away from the warfighter’, Kothari explained.
It can then present clean data sets to soldiers, empowering them to make actionable decisions, from engaging an enemy to taking evasive manoeuvres.
This AI capability rests on a hardware backbone, which must ingest, process, exploit, and disseminate the raw data at real-time speeds.
Kothari pointed to software being used on NGCV demonstrator vehicles that focuses on hostile fire detection and localisation (HFDL) and which runs on Systel’s Raven-Strike rugged mission computer.
The software detects incoming projectiles or heat signatures, quickly providing the operator with the data and information necessary to make an informed decision.
‘It takes immense compute power, robust I/O capability, and high-bandwidth networking, all combined in a SWaP-2C optimized single LRU rugged system,’ Kothari said.
This is a key focus for Systel: delivering rugged computers designed to integrate multiple sensors for data fusion in a single line replaceable unit (LRU) system and with the computing power necessary to support the required software applications.
The company considers a wide range of factors, from examining the networking capability needed to present the data (both inside the vehicle and downstream) to assessing the optimum storage capability.
It also focuses on a number of practical areas, such as optimising the computing system to fit in the space available and ensuring it has the necessary thermal technology to avoid overheating.
‘That’s how we enable the AI/autonomous capability, through understanding the overall platform ecosystem and tying in the compute piece.’
AI has a range of other uses, Kothari noted, such as boosting cyber security and performing biometric analysis, for example facial recognition. The exponential multiplier effect of deployed AI empowers operators to turn reams of raw data to their advantage.
When it comes to NGCV and other platforms, these capabilities ‘must take place at the edge’, Kothari said, relying on an onboard computing system without a cloud storage server to provide feedback and support.
That same capability and technology must be available in the vehicle itself, perhaps without strong connectivity.
‘It’s critical from a soldier protection perspective to not only have the compute capability necessary to accomplish the task at hand but also for that capability to reside in a fully rugged system designed to withstand the harshest environmental conditions,’ he added.
Systel’s major product line for such applications is its Strike series of rugged mission computers, featuring systems such as Raven-Strike and Hawk-Strike, designed for mission-critical applications featuring multiple sensors and network interfaces.
The Strike series is built with AI applications in mind, Kothari said, with enough processing capability ‘to help shift the focus from man to machine’.
Systel has supported AI technology in various other projects in the past, including Aurora Flight Science’s Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS), a UH-1 helicopter capable of autonomous flight.
Its rugged servers have also been used in the Pentagon’s Project Maven and the US Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned autonomous helicopter.
AI is set to evolve in military use at a rapid pace, said Kothari. It will not only lift the cognitive workload from the warfighter, but can also remove them from front line danger altogether, something the NGCV Cross Function Team (CFT) is working to achieve with the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) and Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) future platforms.
Systel’s Raven-Strike computer is successfully hosting the HFDL system being tested on the OMFV Mission Enabling Technologies Demonstrator (MET-D) and RCV surrogate vehicles.
A number of complex technical challenges must be overcome to make this future a reality, Kothari said.
Just as self-driving cars must learn to recognise lines on the road even in snow or rainy conditions, so military vehicles must be capable of determining whether particular terrain – be it hills or sand – is safe to traverse.
‘All of that capability has to reside on a mission computer,’ he said. ‘That’s what we provide, and that’s how we support the armed forces.’ (Source: Shephard)
07 Oct 19. Commtact launches HiveComm datalink family. Wireless communications provider Commtact has launched its HiveComm datalink family, a suite of systems for use on air, sea and land platforms.
The family of datalinks includes technology that can be incorporated into OEM products, as well as tactical ruggedised units and ground end stations.
‘We are happy to introduce the HiveComm for the first time ‒ a new generation of SDR [software defined radio] wireless advanced datalink solutions providing secured IP connectivity and high-end performance in ever-changing operational environments, combined with leading proprietary and combat-proven technologies,’ Ariel Kandel, CEO of Commtact, said.
‘We are continuously engaged in the development of solutions that enable our customers to enjoy flexible, open architecture, secured, robust communications solutions under the most challenging conditions, ensuring continuous high data rate transmission between platforms or users.’
HiveComm is an SDR system designed to provide full duplex digital communications, enabling a data transmission of 40Mbps.
It combines multiple-input and multiple-output technology for improved reliability and performance in a multipath environment, as well as unique algorithms for encryption and secure communications, while advanced error correction techniques and algorithms increase datalink robustness and reliability.
HiveComm has an adaptive modem, the AiMoTM, delivering a smart modem algorithm that optimises the SDR for better performance, and this operates either single carrier or multi-carrier modulation, providing the operator with the required operational flexibility.
Networking is facilitated by Commtact’s mobile ad hoc network system, HiveNet, a self-forming/self-healing, ad-hoc, multi-hop mesh network.
Using Commtact’s Amadeus real-time HD video encoder, real-time multi-transmission from several different payloads at low latency can be carried out. (Source: Shephard)
05 Oct 19. CSCRC announces major cyber security research collaboration with local companies. The Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre has announced a major research project between Australian company Penten and CSIRO’s Data61, which it said will extend the country’s sovereign advantage in autonomous and active defence.
The announcement was made at CSIRO’s D61+ LIVE event in Sydney, and will allow Penten access to Data61’s artificial intelligence research expertise, with the aim to focus on extending Penten’s “world-leading work on applying AI to turn the tables on cyber attackers, using deception technology like ‘cyber traps’ and ‘decoys’, part of an emerging category of cyber security defence”.
“This is a significant announcement for the Australian cyber research community,” Rachael Falk, CSCRC chief executive, said.
“The collaboration brings together one of Australia’s most innovative companies with our national science agency to collaborate on solving challenging problems in our field. The CSCRC continues to focus on industry-led research, bringing the best scientific and engineering minds together to create tomorrow’s commercial opportunities.
“Strong cyber security is critical for our economy and for Australia’s prosperity. The CSCRC’s primary focus is collaboration with academia, industry and government to deliver industry-driven cyber security outcomes. We want our research and work to have an impact benefiting Australia both now and well into the future. We are excited by the opportunities this collaboration presents.”
As part of the arrangement, Penten, Data61 and CSCRC are looking to fill two Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship positions and are offering five PhD scholarships of up to $50,000 per annum to work on applying AI and machine learning to create deceptive and plausible computer systems and data.
“Unlike what you see on CSI, it is hard to detect intrusions and data theft. Not because traditional systems are incapable, but because criminals and people with malicious intent are always looking for new ways to hide their actions in the noise of everyday computer activity,” Penten CEO Matthew Wilson said.
“Even when we do find something, traditional tools don’t often tell us ‘who’ or ‘why’.
“We have been exploring how to fight back against these attackers by interspersing decoy computers and data amongst real assets. Because they don’t have any real value, the decoys act as digital tripwires. We discover the attackers and learn more about them by capturing their actions, observing what they choose to interact with and placing homing beacons in the decoys.
“Cyber traps work best if the content is realistic, enticing and does not interfere with legitimate users. Making these cyber traps by hand and optimising for these requirements is very time consuming for cyber defenders. Our solutions use artificial intelligence to learn the patterns of activity and content from surrounding computers and data. We then use this information to create realistic and believable mimics. This means we can deliver suitable content extremely efficiently, tailored to a customer environment and with minimal effort on the part of the defender.”
Dr Surya Nepal, senior principal research scientist at CSIRO’s Data61 and security automation and orchestration team leader at CSCRC, said the partnership could help Australia create new technologies that can reach global scale.
“As cyber threats increase in volume and sophistication, AI and machine learning offer an opportunity to assist overwhelmed human defenders and speed up decision making and response. It also allows us to deliver more agile defences in a way that we were not able to before,” Dr Nepal said.
“Cyber security is a critically important area of research, and Data61 is looking to partner with industry to do similar work that builds a competitive advantage for Australian companies.”
This research partnership creates more than seven full-time research positions across the country, with options to extend the work in future years or grow the research team. (Source: Defence Connect)
07 Oct 19. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) received a $48m engineering services contract to support the integration and qualification of hand-held devices into platform-mounted WiFi systems secured up to secret. Loaded with situational awareness and mission planning applications, the mobile devices will improve air-to-ground communication between combat teams, enhancing situational awareness as the mission unfolds.
“We’re helping aircrews and ground forces better communicate and collaborate in real time on the battlefield,” said Matt Gilligan, vice president at Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business. “Right now Blackhawk crews and dismounted soldiers rely heavily on voice communications during a mission, and when dynamics are changing in the air and on the ground minute by minute, that’s a huge challenge.”
The contract is part of the U.S. Army’s Air Soldier System (Air SS), the service’s effort to equip their rotary-wing aircrews with wearable electronics that increase their mission effectiveness and survivability.
Under the contract, Raytheon will load mission applications on commercial off-the-shelf phones and tablets to allow air and ground users to access and share current weather updates, friendly force trackers, and secure text messages.
To learn more about the program, watch the Tennessee National Guard use the system during a recent FEMA exercise Shaken Fury.
07 Oct 19. wolfSSL is providing the proper cryptographic underpinnings for secure boot and secure firmware update in commercial and military avionics. wolfSSL, the leading provider of security and connectivity solutions for sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) markets, with over 2 billion devices secured is adding support for complete RTCA DO-178C level A certification. wolfSSL will offer DO-178 wolfCrypt as a commercial off – the – shelf (COTS) solution for connected avionics applications. Adherence to DO-178C level A will be supported through the first wolfCrypt COTS DO-178C certification kit release that includes traceable artefacts for the following encryption algorithms:
– SHA – 256 for message digest
– AES for encryption and decryption
– RSA to sign and verify a message.
– Chacha20_poly1305 for authenticated encryption and decryption.
The primary goal of this initial release is to provide the proper cryptographic underpinnings for secure boot and secure firmware update in commercial and military avionics. wolfSSL brings trusted, military – grade security to connected commercial and military aircraft. Avionics developers now have a flexible, compact, economical, high – performance COTS solution for quickly delivering FIPS 140-2 validated crypto algorithms which can be used in DO-178 mode for combined FIPS 140-2/DO-178 consumption. The wolfCrypt cryptography library FIPS 140-2 validation certificates can be applied to DO-178 uses.
“We are proud to bring trusted, military-grade security to commercial and military aviation,” said Larry Stefonic, CEO and founder at wolfSSL. “Avionics developers now have a flexible, compact, economic, high-performance COTS platform for quickly delivering enhanced DO-178 based cryptographic security.”
05 Oct 19. Countermeasure development in the age of AI. Brian Tottingham, technical sales manager for mission data services at MASS, explains how artificial intelligence (AI) could help countermeasure development enter a new era, looking at research and development efficiencies, the importance of data accuracy, as well as the challenges to adoption. Artificial intelligence has been adopted across a diverse range of industries, including manufacturing and retail, delivering process efficiencies through automation and enabling faster decision-making. The defence sector lags curiously behind, however, despite there being a significant opportunity to advance operational effectiveness and improve countermeasures through the adoption of AI.
Support for countermeasure development
One of the most important benefits that AI offers to countermeasure development is the ability to support electronic warfare (EW) analysis.
When used in conjunction with simulation software, the technology has the potential to reduce costs and streamline countermeasure development processes so that expensive and time-consuming sea, field or flight trials are either performed quicker or targeted more effectively. Allowing multiple factors to be modified at the same time within a single engagement, AI and smart analysis tools could reduce time and costs traditionally associated with effective countermeasure development.
The use of these tools could in turn enable multi-domain (RF and/or IR), multi-environment (air, land and/or sea), multi-platform and multi-threat engagements to be simulated and the next generation of countermeasure tactics to be developed.
The automation of the tools required for this could also be used by peers nationwide in various organisations, helping to open up the siloed approach to EW that the industry has today.
Furthermore, by employing common tools throughout the industry, analysts would no longer need to develop their own unverified and un-validated tools to see how a countermeasure performs. This would allow tasks to benefit from development and implementation of standard analysis methods produced by analysis experts, rather than countermeasure or threat systems experts.
Enhanced data accuracy
In addition to development efficiencies, AI could also help prevent errors and improve data accuracy.
Through the use of AI, threat data could be filtered so that only realistic data is employed within the data management system. Where ‘holes’ exist in the intelligence mission data physics ‘first principles’ can be used to supplement the data.
Besides, knowing what data is missing would enable data mining to source all data pertinent to the engagement, effectively reducing the analytical burden and reliance on intelligence agencies. This would also support the standardisation of the sector, with EW information from open-source intelligence automatically obtained and stored.
A key benefit for the employment of AI within data management, data mining and filtering is that it significantly reduces the risk of human error, wasted development time as well as the development of ineffective countermeasures.
As with any new or emerging technology, the use of AI requires militaries and businesses to invest in physical equipment and software along with uniquely qualified personnel. Not only does this mean a new focus on recruitment and training but, also on the programming of labour-intensive tasks into machine learning algorithms.
The initial financial investment, along with the time needed to define the process and its relative data taxonomy, are currently the initial challenges that the industry faces. However, when considering the benefits that the technology can deliver, significant steps would need to be taken to overcome these early adoption challenges.
Widespread adoption of AI in the EW domain could see technological development in the industry increase more rapidly than ever before. With experts such as MASS laying the cornerstones of an evolution toward an AI solution, the industry is in a firm position to overcome the barriers to adoption and drive the sector forwards. (Source: army-technology.com)
05 Oct 19. Can AI automate damage assessments after a disaster? What if artificial intelligence and machine learning could automate and accelerate damage assessments taken from satellite imagery in the aftermath of a natural disaster?
That’s the question the Defense Innovation Unit is asking experts with it’s xView2 Challenge.
Satellite imagery is frequently used for damage assessments following natural disasters, from hurricanes to forest fires. For example, following Hurricane Dorian the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency was able to use satellite imagery to tell responders what infrastructure was damaged, which roads were still operational and which airfields were ready to receive aid.
While satellite imagery can be produced rather quickly following a natural disaster, that data still needs to be processed by human analysts to determine what’s damaged and what’s still standing. Automating that process using machine learning algorithms could be key to getting that information to responders even faster.
Enter the xView2 Challenge.
xView2 is a follow up to xView1, a prize competition seeking computer vision algorithms capable of identifying objects in satellite images first responders might need, like a building. The xView2 challenge takes that concept a step further to a practical application. In addition to automatically locating a building in a satellite image, the new algorithms must also be able to assess what kind of damage the building has sustained, if any, in the image.
For the xView2 Challenge, participants will use a publicly available dataset of satellite imagery that includes images before and after several types of disaster, including wildfire, landslides, earthquakes and flood damage. The dataset includes 700,000 building annotations across 5,000 square kilometers spanning 15 countries. That dataset was released Sept. 25.
“DIU’s goal in hosting this challenge is to enlist the global community of machine learning experts to tackle a critically hard problem: detecting key objects in overhead imagery in context and assessing damage in a disaster situation,” Mike Kaul, DIU’s AI portfolio director, said in a statement announcing the challenge in August. With help from the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, researchers with the Software Engineering Institute and several other government organizations, the Defense Innovation Unit created the xView2 Challenge as a prize competition to develop algorithms capable of identifying and labeling damage assessments from satellite imagery.
“The JAIC is helping to fund the challenge and helped develop the ideas and the concept for the computer vision challenge. Our Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) team will work closely with the DIU to assess the ideas and recommendations generated from this challenge,” said Lt. Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson, a spokesman for the JAIC. “ The winning ideas solicited from the challenge will contribute to the advancement of the JAIC Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) national mission initiative in its work to support and enable the DoD and our agency partners with AI solutions in this important field of work.”
Submissions are due Nov. 22. A total of $150,000 in prize money is up for grabs, with prizes ranging from $1,000 to $37,950. All submissions will be eligible for follow-on acquisition opportunities. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
07 Oct 19. Defence technology and training company MASS has successfully supported the final Decision-Making exercise for the National Defence College (NDC) in Oman – the sixth year MASS has supported the NDC.
The exercise is the culmination of the College’s flagship annual eleven-month Strategy Course, attended by senior members of Oman’s armed forces and Government departments. The course demonstrates how defence strategy is formulated at the national and international levels, and allows participants the opportunity to use their strategic decision-making skills to solve complex defence and security-related problems.
The exercise is set in the real world, in an environment that highlights a wide range of complex regional and global challenges. This provides the opportunity for the participants to practise the knowledge and skills that they have developed during the course.
MASS’s support to the exercise includes the provision of scenario development, preparation of the exercise documentation and enabling the dynamic management of the scenario during the exercise. In addition, MASS provides part of the simulated media that is used to inject and update scenario catalysts as well as require participants to interact with the media through press conferences and TV interviews. MASS provides a media producer/editor and a TV news anchor who generate a series of daily “Global Network News” broadcasts including studio interviews.
Exercise delivery is supported by four MASS subject matter experts, based in Oman for up to thirteen days, and culminates in the participants role-playing an international conference hosted by the Government of Oman at the request of the UN Secretary-General to address an urgent strategic crisis.
MASS Managing Director Chris Stanley commented, “MASS is very proud to once again support the end-of-year strategic decision-making exercise at the Oman National Defence College. Our long-standing relationship demonstrates the value we continue to bring in support of strategic development for military and government personnel in Oman.”
07 Oct 19. Commtact Ltd. ‒ a leading provider of advanced wireless communications solutions for manned and unmanned platforms on the ground, in the air or at sea ‒ launches the HiveComm Datalink Family, a suite of solutions that enables advanced communications for a variety of air, sea and land platforms. The suite includes advanced technology incorporated into OEM products, tactical ruggedized units, and ground end stations. According to Mr. Ariel Kandel CEO Of Commtact Ltd: “We are happy to introduce the HiveComm for the first time ‒ a new generation of SDR wireless advanced datalink solutions providing secured IP connectivity and high-end performance in ever-changing operational environments, combined with leading proprietary and combat-proven technologies.
Ariel continued, “We are continuously engaged in the development of solutions that enable our customers to enjoy flexible, open architecture, secured, robust communications solutions under the most challenging conditions, ensuring continuous high data rate transmission between platforms or users.”
The HiveComm is a leading SDR (Software Defined Radio) system designed to provide full duplex digital communications, enabling high performance data transmission (40Mbps). The suite combines Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output (MiMo) technology for improved reliability and performance in a multipath environment, as well as unique algorithms for encryption and secure communications. Advanced error correction techniques and algorithms increase datalink robustness and reliability in even the most challenging scenarios.
Among its many features, the HiveComm has an adaptive modem, the AiMoTM, delivering a one-of-a-kind smart modem algorithm ‒ optimizing the SDR for maximum performance. The modem operates either single carrier or multi-carrier modulation, providing the operator with the required operational flexibility.
Networking is accomplished by Commtact’s proprietary MANET solution (HiveNetTM), a highly effective self-forming/self-healing, ad-hoc, multi-hop Mesh network. Using Commtact’s AmadeusTM real-time HD video encoder, enhanced video capabilities offer real-time multi-transmission from several different payloads at low latency. Two built-in proprietary HD video encoders allow concurrent encoding, decoding and transmission of multiple HD video streams. AUSA, Washington, D.C., October 14-16, Hall D, Booth 7057.
03 Oct 19. Integrasys Updates the Firm’s Automated Network Maintenance System. Integrasys has launched Alusat 2.0, the latest version of the company’s automated network maintenance system — the update delivers increased automation, flexibility and scalability.
Alusat enables remote monitoring and maintenance of ground station terminals, reducing the cost, time, and effort involved in ensuring performance and availability of satellite networks is maximized. It enables virtual visits to every site within the network, allowing users recover out-of-service terminals, perform preventative SNR monitoring and deliver remote auto-maintenance.
With Alusat 2.0, users can now conduct automated maintenance for predicted maintenance, optimizing the network performance and detecting any future RF failures. Users can define an auto-maintenance target criteria for each network. Remotely, the user can determine the testing actions such as SNR, CRC, Copol, CrossPol, or ASI or any degradation. The operation can be monitored live from the remote display or can wait for the automated complete SLA reports in Excel or pdf.
The latest version also incorporates SLA Analysis, giving an automatic SLA calculation and representation based on remote results. This means operators can easily pass or fail remotes based on RF threshold information analysis.
Additionally, Alusat 2.0 offers improved reporting capabilities, delivering test results, network analysis and auto-maintenance reports offering an overview of the entire network. Alusat provides users with a platform for historic data and logfiles management.
Alvaro Sanchez, CEO, Integrasys, said Alusat is already helping customers save time, travels, effort, and money in the maintenance of their satellite systems. With this version, the firm wanted to give customers a more automated tool, with scheduling capabilities which gives them better flexibility while also making it easier to scale as more remote sites are added. Alusat 2.0 can automatically recover out of service VSATs while provides an unprecedented predictive maintenance experience with great reporting capabilities. (Source: Satnews)
07 Oct 19. The Cyberthreat Handbook: Thales and Verint release their “Who’s Who” of cyberattackers.
- In our hyperconnected world, threat intelligence is crucial to our ability to better detect and prevent cyberattacks. This is the purpose of The Cyberthreat Handbook produced by Thales and Verint to provide insights into the most significant groups of cyberattackers through detailed rating cards.
- After a year-long investigation, teams of analysts from two of the market leaders in cybersecurity technology have produced detailed profiles of about 60 major groups of cyberattackers by studying 490 attack campaigns they have perpetrated throughout the world.
- With the release of The Cyberthreat Handbook, Thales and Verint are publishing their observations about the attack techniques used, the sectors most frequently targeted and the motives of the attackers, and offering recommendations to cybersecurity stakeholders for the coming years.
Powered by the cutting-edge technologies and products of Thales and Verint, the two companies are pleased to present The Cyberthreat Handbook, a report of unprecedented scope designed to provide a classification and basis for further investigation of major groups of cyberattackers, including cybercriminals, cyberterrorists, hacktivist groups and state-sponsored hackers. As part of the strategic partnership to create a comprehensive, state-of-the art Cyber Threat Intelligence technologies, threat intelligence analysts from Thales and Verint have worked together to provide this unique 360° view of the cyberthreat landscape, with detailed descriptions of the activities of about sixty particularly significant groups, including their tactics and techniques, their motives and the sectors targeted from analysis of multiple data sources such as web and threat intelligence.
As cybersecurity grows in importance, Thales and Verint have worked together to find out more about cyberattackers and the techniques they employ, the purpose being to help organisations in the private and public sectors to better detect and anticipate future attacks. The cyberthreat landscape is extremely diversified, and knowing one’s enemies can be particularly complex in this world of subterfuge and deception.
Analysts from Thales and Verint have defined four major categories of attackers based on their motives and ultimate objectives. Out of approximately sixty major groups of attackers analysed, 49% are state-sponsored groups often aiming to steal sensitive data from targets of geopolitical interest. 26% are ideologically motivated hacktivists, closely followed by cybercriminals (20%) who are driven by financial gain. In fourth position, cyberterrorists account for 5% of the groups analysed.
All the world’s major economic, political and military powers are priority targets of cyberattackers. The 12 countries in the world with the highest GDP are all at the top of the list of targets, headed by the United States, Russia, the European Union (particularly the United Kingdom, France and Germany) and China, followed by India, South Korea and Japan.
The sectors most targeted by these major attacks are States and their defence capabilities, followed by the financial sector, energy and transportation. Attacks towards medias and health industry are increasing fast.
Last but not least, a growing number of groups of attackers are now focusing on vulnerabilities in the supply chain, and in particular on smaller partners, suppliers and service providers that are used as trojans to access major targets.
“The Thales and Verint teams are immensely proud to release this report today as part of its technology and domain expertise cooperation. Unique in its breadth and depth, it is the culmination of many months of research, investigation and painstaking analysis and correlation of relevant data. As cyberthreats proliferate and evolve, cybersecurity clearly has a major role to play, particularly for critical infrastructure providers. It is our duty to analyse, understand and describe the techniques employed by cyberattackers so that our customers and all other businesses and organisations are better prepared to detect and anticipate future attacks.” Marc Darmon, Executive Vice President, Secure Communications and Information Systems, Thales
“Joining forces with Thales strengthens our mutual ability to deliver comprehensive knowledge of potential threats, and thus provide the necessary cyber security protection. Verint Cyber Intelligence leverages years of intelligence domain expertise, embedded within investigation methodologies and technologies critical to prevent cyber-attacks before they get into the gateway of the organization. This report generates unique insights and knowledge to cyber and security experts to mitigate and foresee cyberattacks.” Elad Sharon, President, Verint Cyber Intelligence Solutions. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Oct 19. Australian researchers leading the way in cyber security analysis. Australian researchers have developed a dataset of global cyber security threats from previous incidents, which they believe could help researchers predict future malicious online activity.
The dataset, ‘FinalBlacklist’, is compiled from incidents from 2007-2017, and is anticipated to help cyber security specialists to derive new insights in the burgeoning industry.
Compiled by CSIRO’s Data61 and Macquarie University, in collaboration with Nokia Bell Labs and University of Sydney, the dataset’s release was announced at D61+ Live in Sydney, with the collection of a total of 51.6 million mal-activity reports dating back to 2007 involving 662,000 unique IP addresses worldwide, which were categorised using machine learning techniques into six classes of mal-activity: malware, phishing, fraudulent services, potentially unwanted programs, exploits and spamming.
Professor Dali Kaafar, information security and privacy research leader at CSIRO’s Data61 and scientific director of Optus Macquarie University Cyber Security Hub, said that malicious software (or malware) has consistently been the weapon of choice for cyber criminals over the past decade.
“Last year the WannaCry ransomware attack affected more than 300,000 computers across 150 countries causing billions of dollars in damage. Ransomware remains a persistent threat as evidenced by the recent attacks against hospitals across Victoria,” Professor Kaafar said.
“Reports of phishing activities have also steadily risen with a spike in 2009 coinciding with the increased adoption of smartphones. In 2013, another spike was experienced, which can be linked to the growing popularity of digital payment systems which attracted unwanted attention from cyber criminals.
“Analysis of the retrospective dataset will allow researchers to identify how the sources, types and scale of different mal-activity has transformed over time, so that organisations can be better prepared against it.
“We’ve made this dataset available to the wider research community so it can be used to train algorithms to predict future instances of mal-activity before they happen.”
With the annual cost of cyber crime damages anticipated to rise to $6trn by 2021, its an issue that is only going to grow as the years go by.
Dr Liming Zhu, software and computational systems research director at CSIRO’s Data61, said researchers and organisations are locked in a perpetual arms race to combat widespread malicious activity on the internet.
“The insights that can be drawn from the FinalBlacklist dataset represent a significant contribution to cyber security research. A retrospective analysis of historical mal-activity trends could help reduce the impact of cyber crime on the economy,” Dr Zhu said.
Although other longitudinal datasets do exist, they are predominantly proprietary as industries are unable to share them due to privacy concerns and wanting to maintain a competitive advantage. The FinalBlacklist dataset has been made publicly available to drive further research.
“Our analysis revealed a consistent minority of repeat offenders that contributed a majority of the mal-activity reports. Detecting and quickly reacting to the emergence of these mal-activity contributors could significantly reduce the damage inflicted,” Professor Kaafar said.
The report included several simple tips to avoid malicious online activity, such as:
- Keep your operating system current: Whether you’re running Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, or any other OS, keep it up to date. OS developers regularly issue security patches that fix and plug security leaks.
- Don’t give in to ransom demands: If your device is infected by ransomware and you are locked out from accessing your files, don’t pay the ransom. There are no guarantees that your files will be released when you are dealing with criminals.
- Think before you click: Do not click on a link in an unsolicited email or open email attachments from somebody that you do not know. Hover over the link to check it’s validity.
- Do not reuse passwords: Use unique passwords for all online accounts. Randomly mix up symbols and numbers with letters. The longer and more complex your password, the more effective it will be in preventing brute-force attacks.
- Install ad blockers: Ads can be used to serve up malware or malvertising (malicious advertising containing viruses) and these simple web extensions can prevent this.
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.