OPM Hack Demonstrates Need for Internal Defense of Government Networks     

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Office of Personnel Management

The Office of Personal Management (OPM) is the victim of a highly intrusive cyber espionage operation conducted by “Deep Panda”, a state backed Chinese hacker group. The personal information of over 4 million current and former government employees dating back to 1985 has been compromised. Chinese hackers managed to circumvent the much vaunted EINSTEIN 3 cyber intrusion monitoring and blocking system (Sternstein, 2015). Once OPM’s network was penetrated, the hackers were easily able to access government records, as OPM’s personnel data was unencrypted (Perera, 2015). The breach was initially discovered by CyTech Services, which ran diagnostic software of OPM’s network in a sales demonstration in April of 2015.

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USCYBERCOM Struggles to Expand – Outsources $475 Million to Private Sector

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Fort Meade MD, place of performance for the contract

In late April, the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization released a request for proposals (RFP) concerning US Cyber Command’s (USCYBERCOM) $475 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity omnibus contract.* The RFP outlines 20 services selected contractors will provide:

  • Knowledge Management
  • Records Management
  • Cyber Operations
  • Planning; Science and Technology/Research and Development
  • Cyber Focused Training
  • Cyber Exercise
  • Engagements
  • Logistics
  • Integrated Technology Support
  • CybersecurityProject Analysis
  • Program Management
  • All-source Intelligence
  • Business Process ReengineeringSecurity
  • Strategy and Policy and Doctrine Development
  • Administrative Support
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FY 2016 Budget Request Part II – Cyber Security Developments and Budget

The President’s FY 2016 budget includes $14 billion for cyber security funding across all federal agencies, including $5.5 billion for the Department of Defense (DoD).  The proposed budget would increase cyber defense spending by ten percent over the enacted FY 2015 budget levels, which is higher than the overall proposed DoD budget increase of seven percent. The increased cyber defense funding within the FY 2016 budget is part of a larger effort by the Federal Government to bolster the nation’s cyber defenses. Other steps taken toward this goal include: the development and integration of new software and systems, increasing the staff of US Cyber Command, Executive Order 13691, and the establishment of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's new Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC). 

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State of the Union & Expected Legislative Activity

Of all the measures outlined in the President’s latest state of the union address, the three measures below are the most likely to pass the Republican controlled Congress. 

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F/A-18F Super Hornets from Strike Fighter Squadron 22 operating from the USS Carl Vinson in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Image Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Fenaroli

1.  Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF)

During his address, President Obama asked the Congress to pass an AUMF specific to combating ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The President has been in consultation with members of Congress with respect to a new AUMF since late December of 2014, and  Speaker of the House John Bohner has indicated a vote will be held on the AUMF by spring of 2015 (Bennett, 2015). A point of contention between Congressional Republicans and Democrats in negotiating an AUMF is the level of discretion the bill will afford to the President, particularly the measures that would prohibit the deployment of ground troops.

The ISIL related AUMF will greatly augment the President’s legal justification for Operation Inherent Resolve, which has been previously justified by the nearly 14 year old AUMF passed after September 11th 2001. Since combat operations in late 2014, the US has launched over 1,800 airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq at a total cost of $1.2 billion. 

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