Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

Looking For Your Next Cyber Jedi

Monday, August 29th, 2016

DoD Taps DEF CON Hacker Traits For Cybersecurity Training Program by Kelly Jackson Higgins.

The Department of Defense sends Frank DiGiovanni, director of force training in DoD’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, to DEF CON 24.

His mission?

“My purpose was to really learn from people who come to DEF CON … Who are they? How do I understand who they are? What motivates them? What sort of attributes” are valuable to the field, the former Air Force officer and pilot who heads overall training policy for the military, says.

DiGiovanni interviewed more than 20 different security industry experts and executives during DEF CON. His main question: “If you’re going to hire someone to either replace you or eventually be your next cyber Jedi, what are you looking for?”

The big takeaway from DiGiovanni’s DEF CON research: STEM, aka science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, was not one of the top skills organizations look for in their cyber-Jedis. “Almost no one talked about technical capabilities or technical chops,” he says. “That was the biggest revelation for me.”

DiGiovanni compiled a list of attributes for the cyber-Jedi archetype based on his interviews. The ultimate hacker/security expert, he found, has skillsets such as creativity and curiosity, resourcefulness, persistence, and teamwork, for example.
… (emphasis added)

The DoD has $millions to throw at creating cyber-Jedis.

If you plan to stay ahead, now would be a good time to start.

PS: If you attend the next DEF CON, keep an eye out for Frank:


Open Source Software & The Department of Defense

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Open Source Software & The Department of Defense by Ben FitzGerald, Peter L. Levin, and Jacqueline Parziale.

A great resource for sharing with Department of Defense (DoD) staff who may be in positions to influence software development, acquisition policies.

In particular you may want to point to the “myths” about security and open source software:

Discussion of open source software in national security is often dismissed out of hand because of technical security
concerns. These are unfounded.

To debunk a few myths:

  • Using open source licensing does not mean that changes to the source code must be shared publicly.
  • The ability to see source code is not the same as the ability to modify deployed software in production.
  • Using open source components is not equivalent to creating an entire system that is itself open sourced.

As In-Q-Tel’s Chief Information Security Officer Dan Geer explains, security is “the absence of unmitigatable surprise.”23 It is particularly difficult to mitigate surprise with closed proprietary software, because the source code, and therefore the ability to identify and address its vulnerabilities, is hidden. “Security through obscurity” is not an effective defense against today’s cybersecurity threats.

In this context, open source software can generate better security outcomes than proprietary alternatives. Conventional anti-malware scanning and intrusion detection are inadequate for many reasons, including their “focus on known vulnerabilities” that miss unknown threats, such as zero-day exploits. As an example, a DARPA-funded team built a flight controller for small quadcopter drones based on an open source autopilot readily downloaded from the Internet. A red team “found no security flaws in six weeks with full access [to the] source code,” making their UAV the most secure on the planet.24

Except that “security” to a DoD contractor has little to do with software security.

No, for a DoD contractor, “security” means change orders, which trigger additional software development cycles, which are largely unauditable, software testing, changes to documentation, all of which could be negatively impacted by “…an open source autopilot.”

If open source is used, there are fewer billing opportunities and that threatens the “security” of DoD contractors.

The paper makes a great case for why the DoD should make greater use of open source software and development practices, but the DoD will have to break the strangle hold of a number of current DoD contractors to do so.

Restricted U.S. Army Geospatial Intelligence Handbook

Friday, August 26th, 2016

Restricted U.S. Army Geospatial Intelligence Handbook

From the webpage:

This training circular provides GEOINT guidance for commanders, staffs, trainers, engineers, and military intelligence personnel at all echelons. It forms the foundation for GEOINT doctrine development. It also serves as a reference for personnel who are developing doctrine; tactics, techniques, and procedures; materiel and force structure; and institutional and unit training for intelligence operations.

1-1. Geospatial intelligence is the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. Geospatial intelligence consists of imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial information (10 USC 467).

Note. TC 2-22.7 further implements that GEOINT consists of any one or any combination of the following components: imagery, IMINT, or GI&S.

1-2. Imagery is the likeness or presentation of any natural or manmade feature or related object or activity, and the positional data acquired at the same time the likeness or representation was acquired, including: products produced by space-based national intelligence reconnaissance systems; and likenesses and presentations produced by satellites, aircraft platforms, unmanned aircraft vehicles, or other similar means (except that such term does not include handheld or clandestine photography taken by or on behalf of human intelligence collection organizations) (10 USC 467).

1-3. Imagery intelligence is the technical, geographic, and intelligence information derived through the interpretation or analysis of imagery and collateral materials (10 USC 467).

1-4. Geospatial information and services refers to information that identifies the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features and boundaries on the Earth, including: statistical data and information derived from, among other things, remote sensing, mapping, and surveying technologies; and mapping, charting, geodetic data, and related products (10 USC 467).


You may not have the large fixed-wing assets described in this handbook, the “value-added layers” are within your reach with open data.


In localized environments, your value-added layers may be more current and useful than those produced on longer time scales.

Topic maps can support geospatial collations of information along side other views of the same data.

A great opportunity to understand how a modern military force understands and uses geospatial intelligence.

Not to mention testing your ability to recreate that geospatial intelligence without dedicated tools.

Grokking Deep Learning

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Grokking Deep Learning by Andrew W. Trask.

From the description:

Artificial Intelligence is the most exciting technology of the century, and Deep Learning is, quite literally, the “brain” behind the world’s smartest Artificial Intelligence systems out there. Loosely based on neuron behavior inside of human brains, these systems are rapidly catching up with the intelligence of their human creators, defeating the world champion Go player, achieving superhuman performance on video games, driving cars, translating languages, and sometimes even helping law enforcement fight crime. Deep Learning is a revolution that is changing every industry across the globe.

Grokking Deep Learning is the perfect place to begin your deep learning journey. Rather than just learn the “black box” API of some library or framework, you will actually understand how to build these algorithms completely from scratch. You will understand how Deep Learning is able to learn at levels greater than humans. You will be able to understand the “brain” behind state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence. Furthermore, unlike other courses that assume advanced knowledge of Calculus and leverage complex mathematical notation, if you’re a Python hacker who passed high-school algebra, you’re ready to go. And at the end, you’ll even build an A.I. that will learn to defeat you in a classic Atari game.

In the Manning Early Access Program (MEAP) with three (3) chapters presently available.

A much more plausible undertaking than DARPA’s quest for “Explainable AI” or “XAI.” (DARPA WANTS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TO EXPLAIN ITSELF) DARPA reasons that:

Potential applications for defense are endless—autonomous aerial and undersea war-fighting or surveillance, among others—but humans won’t make full use of AI until they trust it won’t fail, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. A new DARPA effort aims to nurture communication between machines and humans by investing in AI that can explain itself as it works.

If non-failure is the criteria for trust, U.S. troops should refuse to leave their barracks in view of the repeated failures of military strategy since the end of WWII.

DARPA should choose a less stringent criteria for trusting an AI. However, failing less often than the Joint Chiefs of Staff may be too low a bar to set.

Pentagon Confirms Crowdsourcing of Map Data

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

I have mentioned before, Tracking NSA/CIA/FBI Agents Just Got Easier, The DEA is Stalking You!, how citizens can invite federal agents to join the gold fish bowl being prepared for the average citizen.

Of course, that’s just me saying it, unless and until the Pentagon confirms the crowdsourcing of map data!

Aliya Sternstein writes
in Soldiers to Help Crowdsource Spy Maps:

“What a great idea if we can get our soldiers adding fidelity to the maps and operational picture that we already have” in Defense systems, Gordon told Nextgov. “All it requires is pushing out our product in a manner that they can add data to it against a common framework.”

Comparing mapping parties to combat support activities, she said, soldiers are deployed in some pretty remote areas where U.S. forces are not always familiar with the roads and the land, partly because they tend to change.

If troops have a base layer, “they can do basically the same things that that social party does and just drop pins and add data,” Gordon said from a meeting room at the annual Esri conference. “Think about some of the places in Africa and some of the less advantaged countries that just don’t have addresses in the way we do” in the United States.

Of course, you already realize the value of crowd-sourcing surveillance of government agents but for the c-suite crowd, confirmation from a respected source (the Pentagon) may help push your citizen surveillance proposal forward.

BTW, while looking at Army GeoData research plans (pages 228-232), I ran across this passage:

This effort integrates behavior and population dynamics research and analysis to depict the operational environment including culture, demographics, terrain, climate, and infrastructure, into geospatial frameworks. Research exploits existing open source text, leverages multi-media and cartographic materials, and investigates data collection methods to ingest geospatial data directly from the tactical edge to characterize parameters of social, cultural, and economic geography. Results of this research augment existing conventional geospatial datasets by providing the rich context of the human aspects of the operational environment, which offers a holistic understanding of the operational environment for the Warfighter. This item continues efforts from Imagery and GeoData Sciences, and Geospatial and Temporal Information Structure and Framework and complements the work in PE 0602784A/Project T41.

Doesn’t that just reek with subjects that would be identified differently in intersecting information systems?

One solution would be to fashion top down mapping systems that are months if not years behind demands in an operational environment. Sort of like tanks that overheat in jungle warfare.

Or you could do something a bit more dynamic that provides a “good enough” mapping for operational needs and yet also has the information necessary to integrate it with other temporary solutions.

Mapping Mountains – Tangram

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Mapping Mountains by Peter Richardson.

From the post:

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the mountains of Northern California lately. To view mountains from above is to journey through time itself: over ancient shorelines, the trails of glaciers, the marks of countless seasons, and the front lines of perpetual tectonic struggle. Fly with me now, on a tour through the world of elevation data:

A stunning display of mapping technology!

Peter starts with an illustrated history of the depiction of elevation on maps, including a map that was a declared to be a military secret!

It’s a quick romp that leads to “Tangram functionality” which is described elsewhere as:

Tangram is a map renderer designed to grant you ludicrous levels of control over your map design. By drawing vector tiles live in a web browser, it allows real-time map design, display, and interactivity.

Using WebGL, Tangram saddles and rides your graphics card into a new world of cartographic exploration. Animated shaders, 3D buildings, and dynamic filtering can be combined to produce effects normally seen only in science fiction.

Map styles, data filters, labels, and even graphics card code can be defined in a human-readable and -writable plaintext scene file, and a JavaScript API permits direct interactive control of the style.

The balance of the post is a lengthy demonstration of Tangram that ends in a call for test pilots!

Tangram reminded of the Art of War by Sun Tzu, where it reads:

All armies prefer high ground to low and sunny places to dark.

Which should now read:

All armies prefer Tangram map renderers to all others.

Seriously. Protesters, direct action movements, irregulars, etc. should take a long look at this post.

I first saw this in a tweet by Lynn Cherny.

DoD IG Testimony [and reports]

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Office of Inspector General – United States Department of Defense – DoD IG Testimony.

I saw a tweet today from @DoD_IG touting the availability of written testimony to Congress going back to 1998.

It’s not everything you might wish for but eighteen years of testimony is a good start.

Playing with the interface a bit, I found that reports by the DoD IG date back to January of 1990.

If you are interested in the recurrent patterns of fraud in DoD operations, this is certainly a good starting place.

OEWatch (Operational Environment Watch)

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

OEWatch (Operational Environment Watch)

From the webpage:

FMSO’s Operational Environment Watch provides translated selections and analysis from a diverse range of foreign articles and other media that our analysts believe will give military and security experts an added dimension to their critical thinking about the Operational Environment.

The Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is an open source research organization of the U.S. Army. Founded as the Soviet Army Studies Office in 1986, it was an innovative program that brought together military specialists and civilian academics to focus on military and security topics derived from unclassified, foreign media. The results were unclassified articles and papers that provided new understandings and broad access to information from a base of expertise in the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, and foreign and U.S. defense communities and universities.

Today FMSO maintains this research tradition of special insight and highly collaborative work. FMSO conducts unclassified research of foreign perspectives of defense and security issues that are understudied or unconsidered but that are important for understanding the environments in which the U.S. military operates. FMSO’s work today is still aimed at publication in unclassified journals and its research findings are taught in both military and civilian venues in the United States and around the world. FMSO is organized in the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command under the TRADOC G-2.

If you are working in open source intelligence, OEWatch is already familiar.

If OEWatch isn’t familiar and you are interested in foreign perspectives, you should add it to your reading list.

Granting that OEWatch has a perspective, it does collect, collate and dispense high quality information that would be difficult to collect for yourself.

BTW, OEWatch does visually separate its commentary from the content it is reporting from other sources. A far cry from U.S. media treatment of foreign news.

CyberDefense: Appeal to Fear – Chinese Stole Anthem Data For HUMINT

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Chinese Stole Anthem Data For HUMINT; Should Raise US ‘Hackles’ by John Quigg.

From the post:


(Gen. Fang Fenghui, chief of PLA General Staff, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [Two peas in a pod?])

The Chinese just walked out of Anthem’s enormous data warehouse (though without encrypting their data it might as well have been a troop of Girl Scouts) with personal data on a quarter of America’s population. Assuming that the pro forma outrage and denial is a confirmation of culpability, the People’s Liberation Army and its various subsidiaries will comb over this and other data they hoover up in the maw of their cyber apparatus for defense and economic intelligence purposes for years, further enabling their surveillance and exploitation of Americans they find interesting.

Which leads the article to conclude, among other things:

Our toothless response as a nation is doing little to deter attacks.

To his credit, John does point out in bolded text:

This is one of the largest corporate breaches ever and has significant fiscal, legal, and intelligence implications. The latest reports indicate that the breach occurred because the data was not encrypted and the attacker used the credentials of an authorized user.

But there is a radical disconnect between national cyberdefense and unencrypted data being stolen using credentials of an authorized user.

Fear will drive the construction of a national cyberdefense equivalent to the TSA and phone record vacuuming, neither of which has succeeded at identifying a single terrorist in the fourteen (14) years since 9/11. (Not my opinion, conclusions of U.S. government agencies, see the links.)

No cyberdefense system, private, governmental or otherwise, can protect data that is not encrypted and for which an attacker has authenticated access. What part of that is unclear?

Let’s identify and correct known computer security weaknesses and then and only then, identify gaps that remain to be addressed by a national cybersecurity program. Otherwise a cybersecurity program will address fictional security gaps, take ineffectual action against others and be as useless and wasteful as similar unfocused efforts.

Defence: a quick guide to key internet links

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Defence: a quick guide to key internet links by David Watt and Nicole Brangwin.

While browsing at Full Text Reports, I saw this title with the following listing of contents:

  • Australian Parliament
  • Australian Government
  • Military history
  • Strategic studies
  • Australian think tanks and non-government organisations
  • International think tanks and organisations
  • Foreign defence

The document is a five (5) page PDF file that has a significant number of links, particularly to Australian military resources. Under “Foreign defense” I did find the Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army but no link for ISIL.

This may save you some time if you are spidering Australian military sites but appears to be incomplete for other areas.

Got Balls?

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

IED Trends: Turning Tennis Balls Into Bombs

From the post:

Terrorists are relentlessly evolving tactics and techniques for IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), and analyzing reporting on IEDs can provide insight complementary to HUMINT on emerging militant methods. Preparing for an upcoming webcast with our friends at Terrogence, we found incidents using sports balls, particularly tennis balls and cricket balls, more frequently appearing as a delivery vehicle for explosives.

When we break these incidents from the last four months down by location, the city of Karachi in southern Pakistan stands out as a hotbed. There is also evidence that this tactic is being embraced around the globe as you can see sports balls fashioned into bombs found from Longview, Washington in the United States to Varanasi in India.

We can use Recorded Future’s Web Intelligence platform to plot out the locations where incidents have recently occurred as well as the frequency and timing.

Interesting but the military, by their stated doctrines, should be providing this information in theater specific IED briefings.


On boobytraps (the old name) in general, see: FM 5-31 Boobytraps (1965), which includes pressure cookers (pp. 73-74) and rubber balls (p. 87).

Topic maps offer over rapid dissemination of “new” forms and checklists for where they may be found. (As opposed to static publications.)

Interesting that FM 5-31 reports an electric iron as boobytrap, but an electric iron is more likely to show up on Antiques Roadshow than as an IED.

At least in the United States.

Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction

Friday, March 29th, 2013

The Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (PASCC) at the Naval Postgraduate School

From opportunity:

This BAA’s primary objective is to attract outstanding researchers and scholars who will research topics of interest to the security studies community. Research will focus on expanding knowledge related to countering weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass effect (WMD/WME). The program solicits innovative proposals for research on WMD/WME counter proliferation, nonproliferation, and strategy to be conducted mainly during the January 2014 through September 2015 timeframe. In this BAA, the phrase “security studies research” refers to research in all disciplines, fields, and domains that (1) are involved in expanding knowledge for national defense, and (2) could potentially improve policy and international relations for combating WMD. Disciplines include, but are not limited to: Political science, sociology, history, biology, chemistry, economics, homeland defense, and public policy.

Applications don’t close until March 31, 2014 but there isn’t any reason to wait until the last minute to apply. 😉

Don’t know but information sharing across agencies could be an issue, along with other areas where topic maps would really shine.

BTW, some representative research from this program.

US drone strikes listed and detailed in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

US drone strikes listed and detailed in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen

From Simon Rogers of the Guardian.

Photos of women and children as casualties, linked to particular drone attacks might make drone technology seem less acceptable.

Known Unknowns

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

I discovered a good example of a “known unknown” today. The GAO report entitled: Multiple DOD Organizations are Developing Numerous Initiatives gives a good example.

From the summary:

We identified 1,340 potential, separate initiatives that DOD funded from fiscal year 2008 through the first quarter of fiscal year 2012 that, in DOD officials’ opinion, met the above definition for C-IED initiatives. We relied on our survey, in part, to determine this number because DOD has not determined, and does not have a ready means for determining, the universe of C-IED initiatives. Of the 1,340 initiatives, we received detailed survey responses confirming that 711 initiatives met our C-IED definition. Of the remaining 629 initiatives for which we did not receive survey responses, 481 were JIEDDO initiatives. JIEDDO officials attribute their low survey returns for reasons including that C-IED initiatives are currently not fully identified, catalogued, and retrievable; however, they expect updates to their information technology system will correct this deficiency. Our survey also identified 45 different organizations that DOD is funding to undertake these 1,340 identified initiatives. Some of these organizations receive JIEDDO funding while others receive other DOD funding. We documented $4.8 billion of DOD funds expended in fiscal year 2011 in support of C-IED initiatives, but this amount is understated because we did not receive survey data confirming DOD funding for all initiatives. As an example, at least 94 of the 711 responses did not include funding amounts for associated C-IED initiatives. Further, the DOD agency with the greatest number of C-IED initiatives identified—JIEDDO—did not return surveys for 81 percent of its initiatives.

Our survey results showed that multiple C-IED initiatives were concentrated within some areas of development, resulting in overlap within DOD for these efforts—i.e., programs engaged in similar activities to achieve similar goals or target similar beneficiaries. For example, our survey data identified 19 organizations with 107 initiatives being developed to combat cell phone-triggered IEDs. While the concentration of initiatives in itself does not constitute duplication, this concentration taken together with the high number of different DOD organizations that are undertaking these initiatives and JIEDDO’s inability to identify and compare C-IED initiatives, demonstrates overlap and the potential for duplication of effort. According to JIEDDO officials, the organization has a robust coordinating process in place that precludes unintended overlap. However, through our survey and follow-up with relevant agency officials, we found examples of overlap in the following areas: (1) IED-related intelligence analysis: two organizations were producing and disseminating similar IED-related intelligence products to the warfighter, (2) C-IED hardware development: two organizations were developing similar robotics for detecting IEDs from a safe distance, and (3) IED detection: two organizations had developed C-IED initiatives using chemical sensors that were similar in their technologies and capabilities.

Our survey results showed that a majority of respondents said they communicated with JIEDDO regarding their C-IED initiatives; however, JIEDDO does not consistently record and track this data. Based on our prior work, JIEDDO does not have a mechanism for recording data communicated on C-IED efforts. Therefore, these data are not available for analysis by JIEDDO or others in DOD to reduce the risk of duplicating efforts and avoid repeating mistakes. (emphasis added)

As the summary points out, there is no reason to presume duplication with 1,340 initiatives to address the same problem. Why would anyone think that?

And for that matter, you have to have data from the 629 non-responding programs. BTW, 481 of those are from the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, JIEDDO. I don’t guess there is any reason to call attention to the organization responsible for defeating IEDs is busy not tracking efforts to defeat them.

Any known unknowns in your organization?

DoD Lists Key Needed Capabilities

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

DoD Lists Key Needed Capabilities

From the post:

The Pentagon has released a list of 30 war-fighting capabilities it says it needs to fight anywhere on the globe in the future.

The 75-page document — officially called the Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC) — lays out how the services must work together to defeat anti-access threats. It also will help shape development of future weapons and equipment.

“It’s a way to look at whether we’re correctly developing joint capabilities, not just service capabilities, to be able to get to where we need,” Lt. Gen. George Flynn, director of joint force development on the Joint Staff, said of the document during a Jan. 20 briefing at the Pentagon.

The document goes a step beyond the traditional fighting spaces — air, land and sea — to include space and cyberspace.

Interesting document that should give you the opportunity to learn something about the military view of the world and find potential areas for discussion of semantic integration.

Cyberspace Science and Technology RFI (U.S. Air Force)

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Cyberspace Science and Technology RFI (U.S. Air Force)

Response Date: February 24, 2012 4 pm Eastern.

From the background information:

The Air Force is requesting information on revolutionary cyberspace science and technologies that address the challenge of future Air Force cyberspace needs in cyberspace exploitation, defense, and operations for potential inclusion in the Air Force Cyber Vision 2025 study. Cyber Vision 2025 is a study to create an integrated, Air Force-wide, near-, mid- and far-term S&T vision to advance revolutionary cyber capabilities to support core Air Force missions. Cyber Vision 2025 will identify state of the art S&T and best practices in government and the private sector. It will analyze current and forecasted capabilities, threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences across core AF missions to identify key S&T gaps and opportunities. It will articulate an AF near- (FY2012-15), mid- (FY2016-20) and far-term (FY2021-25) S&T vision to fill gaps, indicating where AF should lead (creating or inventing novel solutions for core AF missions), follow (by adopting, adapting, or augmenting others investments), or watch key technologies. In alignment with the national security cyber strategy, the study is intended to address cyber S&T across Air Force core missions (air, space, cyber, and Command and Control Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C2ISR)) including DOTMLPF (Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel and Facilities) considerations, engaging with industry, academia, national laboratories, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs), and government to leverage capabilities and experience.

The ability to make sense out of big (heterogeneous) data should qualify as one aspect of supporting core Air Force missions.

Read the RFI, plus other suggested documents and see what you think.