Straight to the Heart of Cyber Security, Warfare

We often talk about security in terms of commercial and industrial ventures, but the military also speaks of security, and their message varies little from what we hear at tradeshows. In fact, the military is quite interested in private industry partnering where there is value and productivity is placed on many communities in our nation.

In late November, I attended the Sixth Annual Government and Industry Partnership Summit in North Charleston, S.C., sponsored by the Charleston Defense Contractors Association. The biggest concern was money, and if the federal government would pull approximately $50 billion from the Defense Department.

Collaboration between DoD and private industry suddenly becomes more important. Cyber security means new thinking and new approaches to our warfighters.

Today’s battlefield blurs the lines between traditional fields of war and the world of cyberspace. Tactically speaking, the most powerful weapon on the battlefield is the collection, assurance and delivery of information.

Terry Halvorson, chief of information for the Navy, said that defense budgets are shrinking and has been a challenge for the Navy the past couple of years. However, they are beginning to think like the commercial world and account for money they are given. The quote of the day for cyber security experts is: “What are we not going to spend money on?”

CDCA brought in the crème de la crème for this event, most of which were Navy cyber experts at the nearby Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR). This is the Navy’s Dominance Systems Command and is fully committed to supporting the Navy mission and serving the fleet. This is one of three Navy major acquisition commands for acquiring, installing, delivering and maintaining advanced information technology capabilities for the fleet to keep warfighters one step ahead of adversaries.

I met with Russ Keller and Scott Beeson of SCRA, a company recently awarded a three-year $3 million blanket purchase agreement with the Coast Guard to support system lifecycle operations, sustainment and enhancements to the existing systems and maintenance tasks for the Interagency Operations Center for the Watchkeeper System. This system is a set of software applications that allow users to make informed command and control decisions for port security in Charleston.

“The US Coast Guard has committed to delivering and supporting state-of-the-art market platforms and systems that are affordable, efficient and mission- capable,” said SCRA vice president Russ Keller. “SCRA Applied R&D offers domain expertise and capabilities that support these efforts to improve our ports and security. It enhances approaching maritime traffic, telling what ship and what cargo is approaching. It offers sophisticated tracking of cargo.”

While the CDCA conference focused largely on cyber security, I found a very interesting security product that could and should hit the maritime cargo market. The product is intelligent protection offered by Charleston engineering firm UEC Electronics. Known as CoreDefender, the product is taking a bite out of cargo theft.

Cargo theft results in billions of dollars in losses every year in the United States. Shipments sent overseas are subject to theft, tampering, damage and customs delays. CoreDefender is designed to reduce losses and to pinpoint specifically where damage has occurred en route to a shipping container’s destination.

The system combines a dual latching mechanism with keyless access, intelligent access control, intrusion and tamper sensing, while incorporating dynamic access codes and event logging. It makes a nice fit for sea, rail, land and storage containers.

“We want to introduce this product to insurance companies to secure their interests,” said Philip J. Ufkes, COO of UEC Electronics. “This is a departure from our military or defense work, but smaller companies like ours must be diversified and use the engineering talent we have in-house.”

From the access control front, to the military side, BAE Systems has secured several government contracts to secure the perimeters of numerous Army bases, including Ft. Belvoir, Md., Ft. Carson, Colo., and Ft. Bragg, N.C. The solution is an automated gate security system that allows one guard to monitor multiple entry points at a military base, monitor license plate recognition systems, use military or government common access card (CAC) and use biometrics or iris scan.

“The gate is designed for one car at one gate,” said Kelly M. Baldwin, director of C5ISR support solutions at BAE Systems in Charleston.

An interesting lesson learned while in Charleston, is that most of the companies represented at the summit are comfortable wearing many different hats. They speak the same language often spoken in the commercial security world, of integration and support services, information management and mobile application development.

Thankfully, the Charleston Defense Contractors Association brought it all together under one roof. CDCA brings inspired people together in forums like this, to ensure our warfighters remain at the cutting edge, regardless of challenges.

This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Security Today.

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