14 tech firms form cybersecurity alliance for government

A new testing center, part of an effort led by Lockheed Martin and 13 IT companies, will allow for collaboration on developing better cyber defenses.

Thirteen leading technology providers, together with Lockheed Martin, today announced the formation of a new cybersecurity technology alliance. The announcement coincided with the opening of a new NexGen Cyber Innovation and Technology Center in Gaithersburg, Md., designed to test and develop new information and cybersecurity solutions for government and commercial customers.

The alliance represents a significant commitment on the part of competing technology companies to work collaboratively on new ways to detect and protect against cyber threats and develop methods that could automatically repair network systems quickly after being attacked.

The companies participating in the Cyber Security Alliance include APC by Schneider Electric, CA, Cisco, Dell, EMC Corp. and its RSA security division, HP, Intel, Juniper Networks, McAfee, Microsoft, NetApp, Symantec and VMware.

Art Coviello, EMC executive vice president and president of RSA, speaking on behalf of the new alliance at the center’s dedication ceremony, highlighted the importance of combining the strengths of the companies at the NexGen center.

“Our adversaries operate in sophisticated criminal ecosystems that enable and enhance their attacks,” he said. To defend against such attacks, “we need to build effective security ecosystems based on collaboration, knowledge sharing and industry best practices.”

“One of the challenges in moving from being reactive to being predictive,” said Lockheed Martin chairman, president and chief executive officer, Robert Stevens, “is the need to model real-world attacks and develop resilient cyber defenses to keep networks operating while they’re under attack.”

That and the ability to test solutions from end-to-end across a variety of hardware and software technologies are among the primary goals of the new cyber innovation and technology center. Nearly $10 million worth of software and equipment was contributed to the NexGen center by members of the Cyber Security Alliance, according to Charles Croom, vice president of Cyber Security Solutions for Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services.

The 25,000-square-foot design and collaboration center is co-located with Lockheed Martin’s new global cyber innovation range and the corporation’s network defense center. The network defense center routinely handles 4 million e-mail messages and about 10T of data per day en route to and from Lockheed Martin’s 140,000 employees. Analysts there look continually for malicious activity and data patterns, such as executable software code embedded in a PDF attachment. 

The new NexGen facility will be able to tap into the defense center’s data feeds, or simulate government agency computing environments, and test various approaches to mitigate cyberattacks, according to Richard Johnson, chief technology officer for Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services. It can also be used to test ways of improving operating efficiencies, he said. The center includes seven collaboration areas as well as high definition video teleconferencing capabilities. 

The new center also features dedicated distributed cloud computing and virtualization capabilities. Those capabilities would permit an agency to simulate a network under attack and test various responses. For instance, analysts could replicate an operating network and freeze it on a second virtual location, in order to study the nature of the attack, while still supporting the primary network.

“We face significant known and unknown threats to our critical infrastructure,” Croom said. “We not only need solid defenses but also the right technologies to predict and prevent future threats.”

Croom said the new Cyber Security Alliance, and in particular the ability for experts from participating companies to work jointly on some of the harder problems agencies face, is one of elements that distinguishes the NexGen from other testing facilities.