Info-Tech Industry Targets Diverse Threats
Fears of network
vulnerability fuel market for improved security systems
by Elizabeth Book
of National Defense Magazine
technologies in the communications and electronics sector should be exploited
to fight the war on terrorism, said U.S. officials.
need to use all instruments of national power, said Air Force Gen. Richard
B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At a conference of the Armed
Forces Communications and Electronics Association, Myers explained that as the
United States means of acquiring information increases, so does its intelligence.
hear from some law enforcement official in London, who has seen something, or
someone makes an arrest in Morocco. Pretty soon you start to piece this together
and connect the dots, and you can take action against financial networks, against
the leadership, or take actions to disrupt the weapons flow, he said. Myers
explained that it is currently an arduous process to put it all together,
but with new capabilities and technologies, we can make the cycle go much
faster, he said.
you think its true that this is the most important thing those of us in
uniform have ever done
then we also have got to expect to make some sacrifices,
and work harder to thwart another attack, he said.
up technology in the areas of fiber optics, computer programs, biometrics and
network-centric warfare improvements, companies are working to market new products
to the Defense Department and U.S. allies.
reports about al Qaedas attempts to launch cyber-attacks are likely to spur
business opportunities for the network-security industry. Opterna, a Quakertown,
Pa.-based company that manufactures fiber optic network equipment, has developed
a new technology that can prevent an intrusion based on the hackers attempt
to log onto the network from the fiber optic line, before the intruder even reaches
the network. Opternas Fiber Sentinel system uses artificial intelligence
and optical digital signature recognition to monitor fiber connections, and can
detect and deal with intrusions, said Michael Cohen, vice president of Global
Marketing for Opterna.
have seen a tremendous upsurge in interest among government and military customers
for a system that can eliminate their fiber optic network vulnerabilities,
said Bret Matz, Opternas president.
detecting the intrusion, Fiber Sentinel denies access to the intruder, simultaneously
re-routes legitimate traffic to a backup fiber path and then notifies the network
operator of the intrusion. The system, which has no known competitor, provides
continuous, real-time monitoring of the network connections without any disruption
of the data stream, said Cohen. Fiber Sentinel identifies such intrusions as Trojan
Horses, worms, denial-of-service attacks and other hacking attempts, he said.
The system shuts down the hackers path in milliseconds.
company recently completed a proof-of-concept study for the Fiber Sentinel system,
and has had favorable reviews from the military users, Cohen said. Our target
markets are embassies, financial services communities, air traffic controllers,
the Defense Department, Border Patrol and the White House Communication Agency.
Other potential customers are companies concerned about industrial espionage,
attacks on computer networks can result in a complete network shutdown, which
can cost companies a lot of money and time. In the national defense business,
youve got people in the battlefield, said Ted Julian, chief strategist
and co-founder of Arbor Networks, a two-year-old small business based in Lexington,
few minutes of them having no information is completely unacceptable. Its
literally a life or death scenario, he said.
Networks is commercializing a program whose underlying technology was developed
at the University of Michigan, with funding from the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency. The companys flagship product, Peakflow, helps detect,
trace and filter denial of service attacks. Usually, once a denial-of-service
attack occurs, network operators need to be on hand to get the system back up.
attacks are not difficult to detect. If theres one thing nice about
a denial of service attack, its that its not subtle, its like
a freight train crashing through your network, said Julian.
proactively monitors for distributed threats within the network, and responds
with focused, rapid resolution of attacks. Network engineers can direct the program
to shut down attack traffic, without blocking legitimate traffic, said David Olverson,
an Arbor Networks senior product engineer.
the dynamic nature of denial-of-service attacks, we sought an anomaly-based solution
that would enable us to proactively detect and respond to both known and previously
unseen threats, said Girish Pathak, vice president and chief technology
officer for a Canadian communications company called Telus. Telus chose Peakflow
for its scalable, non-intrusive architecture, he said.
explained that its easy to launch a denial of service attack.
are thousands of sites on the net that have point and click tools to teach you
how to launch a denial of service attack. The level of sophistication required
to launch these is minimal, he said. Peakflow filters information
closer to the source. It automates detection, tracing and filtering so that it
goes from taking a day or so to a minute or two.
systems are usually signature-based, Julian said. Programs usually look for signatures
to defend against attacks. Peakflow uses algorithms to flag when things
arent normal and to tell you exactly how theyre not normal,
other technology that is gaining attention in the security business is biometrics.
technologies are based on the notion that measurable physical characteristics
or personal behavior traits can be used to recognize the identity or verify the
claimed identity of an individual. Examples include speaker verification, iris
scans, fingerprints, hand geometry and facial recognition.
2000, the Defense Department designated the Army as the executive agent for developing
and implementing biometrics technology. The Biometrics Management Office currently
is testing technologies for potential adoption.
such as Biodentity, based in Ottawa, Canada, are in the process of developing
facial-recognition software. It recently secured a $7 million deal with Germany
to install a face-recognition security system. The Defense Department Biometrics
Management Office has yet to purchase any systems, but is evaluating new technologies
at the Biometrics Fusion Center, based in Bridgeport, W. Va.
BMO is directed by Congress to lead, consolidate and coordinate the development,
adoption and institutionalization of biometric technologies throughout DOD,
said Linda Dean, director of the Armys C4 Enabling Technologies Directorate.
information is a top priority for military agencies and units in the field, officials
said. We are beginning to connect data in ways we couldnt do before,
said Air Force Maj. Gen. Charlie Croom, vice director for C4I systems on the Joint
soldier fighting in the mud is a sensor, and there is information that he sees
that others need to know, Croom said. With network-centric warfare, we think
like a street gang, swarm like a soccer team, and communicate like a Wal-Mart.
are enabling our war fighter through actionable information, tying together
logistics, intelligence and C4ISR, said Army Maj. Gen. Steve Boutelle, director
of information operations, networks and space at Army headquarters. We need
to marry up ground-based terrestrial infrastructure with air-breathers, to only
give the warfighter information that is actionable, he said.
remains a problem, even when dealing with allies, said Rick Rosenberg, program
executive for the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. We dont yet have the
technology to fully connect an ally and still protect our secrets. We fight wars
with our allies; obviously, wed like to see them on our networks. But there
is some information on our networks that we dont want them to see. So we
do it through a family of guarding solutions, he said