Home' Defense Systems : December 2012 Contents The Defense Department cannot
afford to pass up on any opportunity
to deploy new technologies or
technology strategies that improve its
DOD cannot afford it because of shrink-
ing defense budgets. Military services are
under acute pressure to reduce costs with-
out compromising their readiness to combat
threats today or in years to come.
The "years to come" is the tricky part.
DOD officials need affordable solutions to
meet existing requirements, but they also
need solutions that help them adapt as those
That is the technological edge they need,
whether it involves cybersecurity, systems
development, or the IT infrastructure. Here
is a look at some of the most promising
strategies for getting that much-needed edge.
Cybersecurity: Evolving threats
Years ago, DOD officials realized they
needed to lay a solid foundation of infor-
mation assurance standards and acquisition
procedures to ensure that their systems
were airtight, whether they were developed
internally or by systems integrators.
Unfortunately, the environment has
"Those standards are solid, they do a
good job for what they were intended,
but the threats are getting more complex,
they are more dynamic," said Michael R.
Twyman, vice president and general man-
ager of the Defense Systems Division for
Northrop Grumman Information Systems.
One problem is that existing security
standards focus primarily on the network
layer, assuming that the applications on
that network are trusted. But that's no lon-
ger a safe assumption, if it ever was. For
example, someone might "spoof" an appli-
cation to introduce anomalous behavior
into the system, said Twyman.
Air Force officials are thinking along the
They realize that their traditional
approach of building layers of defense
might not be sufficient, said Tim Rudolph,
chief technology officer for the Air Force
Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom
Air Force Base. Perhaps the best way to
develop a security strategy for this complex
environment is to begin with the data and
how it moves through that environment.
"We are focusing more on content-based
security, where you will have end-to-end
trust not only of the path but of the con-
tent itself, so we know how it gets passed
along," Rudolph said.
The Air Force also has created a new
program executive office to oversee all of
its terrestrial networking activities.
The PEO for Command, Control and
Communications Information and Networks
(C3I&N), under Maj. Gen. Craig Olson, pro-
vides "a very tight coupling" between cyber
acquisition and operational activities, said
Rudolph. "That is one way we are trying to
look at various threats and how to deal with
them in a rapid manner," Rudolph said.
New life for an old idea
For more than a decade now DOD has
made a push to leverage commercial off-
the-shelf and open systems technology in
battle systems. That effort has paid off, but
not as much as DOD officials would like.
Certainly the department has saved money
on the initial purchase cost of COTS products.
But there are more savings
to be had in later stages of
the product lifecycle, said Twyman.
Ideally, a system based on commercial
technology based on open systems is eas-
ily upgraded by pulling one product out
and dropping another, better one in -- what
industry calls "plug and play."
That's not always the case in DOD sys-
tems, Twyman said. During implementa-
tion, systems integrators sometimes adapt
the technology or create a custom interface,
which makes upgrades more costly and
"If the COTS product is changed or
a custom interface is developed, it gets
locked in when integrated, and it is
expensive to rip it out," he said. "It's not
One solution is to give more thought to
program architectures, so that fewer modi-
fications to individual products are needed,
We are focusing more on content-based security, where you will have
end-to-end trust not only of the path but of the content itself, so we know
how it gets passed along." ---Tim Rudolph, Chief Technology Officer, Air Force
Life Cycle Management Center, Hanscom Air Force Base
Air Force seeks IT edge despite budget pressures
A push for more affordable IT could pay off in more
flexible, interoperable systems
Listen/Learn: Go to defensesystems.com/NorthropGrumman
for a replay of the webcast.
Dr. Tim Rudolph, Chief Technology Officer, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center,
Hanscom Air Force Base
Michael R. Twyman, Vice President and General Manager, Defense Systems Division,
Northrop Grumman Information Systems
Barry Rosenberg, Editor-in-Chief, Defense Systems
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