14 tech firms form cybersecurity alliance for government

Lockheed Martin, top suppliers launch initiative for government market

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.

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

Reader Comments

Fri, Nov 13, 2009

Could not agree more with Observer; these are the "usual Inside-the-Beltway suspects" who manage the IT Sector Council, the IAC, the IT ISAC Board and most of the other private sector bodies which engage with the USGovt--and leave out the 10,000 companies which represent 1,000,000 IT employees nationwide, and $ 1/2 trillion in economic activity--but who abdicate their voices with government to these self-appointed "insiders"....

Fri, Nov 13, 2009 Observer, Jr.

You say "the kind of public-private collaboration" that is needed? hmmm. The alliance sounds like all private to me. These firms are a pack in search of government business, with a capital B and a capital P for profit. Alliance may create an aggregation of interesting capabilities, but are they unique? And while a swarm of lawyers probably vetted this, do you think it has some implications for the competitive dimension of the market? Will all clients like this aggregation? Will they covet each other's opportunities? But until problems shoot to the surface, congratulations all around for daring to try a new business concept in a highly regulated and scrutinized arena. As some -- but not all-- of the alliance players are some vital players, lets hope they do not get taken out of needed action for government customers or prickly business arrangements that impede government access to their individual capabilities.

Fri, Nov 13, 2009 Jacqui Porth Washington, D.C.

This is exactly the kind of public-private collaboration that is needed for cyber security. You might also be interested in some of the related elements in the feature packaged post on the Web site America.gov following an examination of the subject over a period of several months. Please see: http://www.america.gov/cybersecurity.html

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