Month: October 2016

Editorial: WikiLeaks sounds alarm about cybersecurity

October 24, 2016

October 22, 2016 By The Detroit News

The WikiLeaks dumps of Hillary Clinton campaign emails have ranged from titillating insider gossip to more disturbing revelations about the abuse of influence. For her opponents, they’ve been something of a treasure.

But beyond partisan politics, everyone should be concerned by what the leaks say about the holes in American cybersecurity and the shifting rules of engagement with Russia.

Ultimately, cybersecurity is a huge concern for the majority of people. For example, we all use Bluetooth enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets, and even sex toys nowadays.

However, it is no secret that these devices can be compromised and accessed by hackers with malicious intent. For instance, if appropriate cybersecurity measures are not taken, a hacker can easily access private information or even control someone’s toy remotely.

Understandably, hacking and online privacy issues are going to be with us for the foreseeable future.

With this in mind, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is allied with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, and U.S. intelligence agencies widely believe it was the Russians who hacked into Clinton campaign accounts.

That amounts to a nation state using the power of its intelligence apparatus to influence an American election.

And that’s scary stuff, particularly if Putin takes it to the next level of disrupting voting and vote counts.

“They can’t do it wholesale,” says former Congressman Mike Rogers, a Brighton Republican who now hosts a TV show and consults with cybersecurity startups. “But if they can create enough doubt in the integrity of an election, they can cause a problem.

“They don’t want one candidate over another. They want confusion.”

Rogers sees in the WikiLeaks a “big and dangerous” change in Russian policy. Previously, the Russians behaved rationally toward the United States, he says; meddling in elections brings unpredictability to the relationship.

“Messing with the U.S. political system is not the attitude of a rational actor,” Rogers says. “This tells me they’re pushing the envelope.”

For decades, Russia has meddled in elections in Latin American and Eastern Block nations. But it has not dared to do so in this country.

The Russians are our technological rival, with sophisticated cyber ability. If they get serious about this game, they could cut off power to parts of the country, create chaos in financial institutions and ruin the credibility of elections.

Vice President Joe Biden made the mistake of warning the Central Intelligence Agency is planning a “covert” response to Russia’s hacking. It would have been much more covert had Biden not blabbed about it, and compromised CIA deniability to boot.

Still, the United States must respond. And it must do more to protect itself by finding ways to keep Russia and others out of our networks.

The National Security Agency is shackled by a public worried that it would turn its cyber eye on average citizens. It now needs more freedom to catch hacking attempts overseas. That requires the ability to share in real-time evidence of malicious source coding and other suspicious activity.

Currently, it takes four days to get the information through Homeland Security, in most cases. By that time it’s often too late to stop a hack.

The NSA also must be able to work more cooperatively with the private sector, which controls 85 percent of the computer networks. Most of those private networks, Rogers says, are vulnerable to hacking.

“We know the Russians’ capability, because they’ve already done these things elsewhere,” Rogers says. “We are not ready for it here. Politically or policy-wise, we are not ready.”

Now that Putin has demonstrated a willingness to disrupt America’s sacred democratic process, we need to get ready, and quickly.

Cybersecurity chief supports splitting role with NSA, but in the right way

October 19, 2016

October 18, 2016 By Jacqueline Klimas

Splitting leadership of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency into two separate roles is the right thing to do, according to the man who currently heads both of them.

But while that might be true, Adm. Mike Rogers on Tuesday said the administration and lawmakers should look at how to do it at the right time and in the right way.

“My position has always been it’s the right thing to do in the wrong way,” Rogers said at FedScoop’s FedTalks 2016. “The challenge in my mind is what’s the right time? What’s the right process? So that we do it in the right way.”

The NSA and Cyber Command were put under one leader to allow the brand-new cybersecurity agency to use the progress already made by the intel organization. Six years later, the admiral said it’s time to step up and reevaluate if assumptions that were made at Cyber Command’s beginning are still accurate or if the threat environment is different.

“It’s a sign of CYBERCOM’s maturation that we’re even having this conversation,” the admiral said.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said he has “been going back and forth on this issue” and what the right path forward is. The question of splitting the position into two began because people questioned the link between an organization with an offensive and defensive military goal and a civilian intelligence organization, as well as issues of sharing resources.

“Would that make both organizations more effective? The only thing I worry about is, now does Adm. Rogers have to talk to Director X at NSA to perform the same function he does today,” the former congressman said.

Last month, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, promised to block the administration from splitting the job between two people.

“I do not believe rushing to separate the dual hat in the final months of an administration is appropriate given the very serious challenges we face in cyberspace and the failure of this admin to develop an effective deterrence policy,” McCain said at a September hearing. “Therefore if a decision is prematurely made to separate NSA and Cyber Command, I will object to the confirmation of any individual nominated by the president to replace the director of the National Security Administration if that person is not also nominated to be the commander of Cyber Command.”!

Donald Dixon’s latest tour of duty: Helping veterans find jobs

October 10, 2016

By Mark Boslet

Donald Dixon is a co-founder of Trident Capital Cybersecurity, a managing director at the firm and a long-time booster of the United States Marine Corps.

So much so that when he noticed military veterans having a tough time finding civilian jobs after their tours of duty, he sprang to attention, convincing the U.S. Congress to pass legislation aimed at helping ex-military secure employment.

Not the typical mission for a venture capitalist.

Dixon served in the Navy from 1969 to 1972, finding himself as an engineering officer stationed on a destroyer during the Vietnam War.

His sons followed suit and joined the Marines. Peter Dixon served for eight years with tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Andrew Dixon spent four years with a tour in Afghanistan. Both are captains now in the reserves.

When asked what motivates him, the elder Dixon has a simple answer: “Patriotism.” But it is more than that. It was the ability to use technology to solve a social problem in the 21st century.

Dixon said he became aware of the jobs gap when son Peter had a difficult time locking down a post-duty position three years ago when he left the military.

“It wasn’t easy for him,” Dixon said. “He had a hard time getting a job.”

So he began looking at the issue with all the due diligence of a new investment, examining Department of Labor stats. His research uncovered that veterans are 50 percent more likely to be unemployed over time.

To Dixon’s surprise, the biggest problem veteran employment reps nationwide have is finding contact information on discharged vets. Part of the problem is form DD 214, the papers that military service members fill out upon departure. Vets don’t receive DD 214 until eight to 12 months after leaving the service. And the form doesn’t include a mobile phone number or an e-mail address. It includes space for a physical address, but many service members don’t know where they are living when they are discharged.

“It was obvious to me that what they needed on that DD 214 was the transitioning veteran’s mobile phone number and e-mail address,” he said. “That is the home address of the millennial.”

So Dixon called the officer at the Pentagon responsible for DD 214 to ask if the form could include a phone number and e-mail address. The answer was “no” since the change wasn’t required by law.

Dixon then put an Act of Congress on his to-do list.

Call it now a “done” list.

Working with former Rep. Mike Rogers from Michigan and Rep. Jeff Miller, Dixon helped create legislation authorizing a pilot program voluntarily capturing e-mail and mobile phone numbers attached to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

He didn’t stop there. He helped create a jobs website for veterans, sponsored by Trident Capital.

Maybe now the path from active duty to active employment will be easier to follow.