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SeKON at Alamo ACE

An audience of conference members in military uniforms.

SeKON at Alamo ACE

In November, SeKON attended the AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association) Alamo ACE conference in San Antonio. This year’s conference was related to cyber security topics, specially focused on the ‘gray zone’ to ensure we are building and deploying environmentally secure and resilient capabilities. Zero Trust architectures and Supply Chain Attacks garnered the most attention as both subjects provide opportunities for improvement within government spaces.

The gray zone is the state between peacetime and wartime; where activities may not be considered full warfare but are serious enough to warrant action or attention. One example is the influence of social media on a society and how it can be manipulated to shape opinions and actions; or, actions like using real fishing trollers to gently probe for responses. Masking behind non-state actors or companies probes and relatively benign attacks are directed specifically to measure the responses to such actions. Not exactly an overt offensive tactic, but also not entirely innocent. We can see similar cyber security tactics already being employed. Building capabilities to identify and protect assets while still operating effectively in the gray zone is one of the DoD’s main focus areas.

Of particular interest is the rise in supply chain attacks against DoD software, both commercial and government developed. Most software today is developed in a modular fashion, leveraging existing capabilities without the need to re-write them from scratch. The most recognized example of this was the recent use of Log4J vulnerability. Log4J is a widely used common library for producing log files from Java applications. This vulnerability was brought to light when SolarWinds was found to be vulnerable to this exploit. Systems within both government and civilian environments were impacted – a rather wide scope of data and information being made available. Fixing this vulnerability cost significantly and resulted in the loss of use, or restrictive use, of these systems.

The AFCEA Alamo conference held many sessions regarding specific strategies to strengthen our position in the gray zone. Examples being, processes and products related to DevSecOps to help support the concept of zero trust, implementing trusted pipelines to minimize the impact of Supply Chain attacks and the use of AI/ML to help detect when abnormal activities target our resources. Those that are interested in AFCEA please visit and locate a local chapter near you.