REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- For every successful project, there is a manager with the vision to ensure it gets the collaboration and exposure needed to push over the goal line of mission success.
So, when the Autonomic Security Operations Center Innovation Team – consisting of both Army, Air Force, university and private industry partners – needed a coordinator to bring its project to fruition there was an Army Materiel Command senior executive behind the scenes ready to realize the vision and garner recognition for the team.
In 2019, AMC’s CIO G-2/6 AMC’s Chief Information Officer/Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (G-2/6) identified requirements for enhanced capability in protecting sensitive logistics data throughout the AMC enterprise, and particularly at its Organic Industrial Base operations. In the meantime, Katherine Coviello, the Army’s Special Advisor for Materiel Enterprise Intelligence and Security, who had served as a subject matter expert on the Department of Defense’s Intelligence Innovation Office’s (DI2O), knew where AMC could find both resources and a solution for protecting data.
The connection between the cybersecurity challenge and a solution led to the recent awarding of the National Defense Industrial Association’s Technology Award to the Autonomic Security Operations Center Innovation Team. The award was presented by the NDIA’s Tennessee Valley Chapter, recognizing Army team members to include AMC’s Coviello and Theodora Bone, who participated in the team while on developmental assignment with Coviello and who now works for the Army Futures Command; Wesley Sloane and Daniel Stewart of the Aviation and Missile Command CIO G-6 Staff; and Connie Sales, Lyn Ploeger, Eric Luce, William “Bill” Hewlett, Maurice Williamson, all of Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas. The team was nominated by AMC CIO G-2/6 Dan Bradford.
“When the issues were identified in 2019, AMC was going through a transformation where it was divesting itself from its research capabilities, which were transferred to the Futures Command. So, AMC couldn’t sponsor the research that it needed. But it could partner with other research groups,” Coviello said.
“Because of my work as a subject matter expert with the Department of Defense Intelligence Innovation Office panel, I was familiar with research going on in the intelligence and cybersecurity fields, and had contacts that could lead AMC to a research partnership and a solution for the identified capability requirement.”
The AMC CIO G-2/6, along with Aviation and Missile Command CIO and Resource Management (G-8) and Corpus Christi Army Depot, joined forces with the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, the cyberspace company Avirtek of Tucson, Arizona, and the University of Arizona to form the Autonomic Security Operations Center Innovation Team, known as ASOC Innovation Team.
The team developed the Autonomic Security Operations Center, which ensures that logistics data for the Army, and joint and coalition partners has the confidentiality, integrity and availability that is critical to defense data security and readiness. ASOC ensures that user cyber data sources (files such as XML, HTML and audio and office documents) are trustworthy and free of embedded malicious components. It provides automated and intelligent data analytics tools that guarantee any large volume of information or a data source being used by a DOD application is security and trustworthy.
ASOC tools allow decision makers to evaluate the accuracy and value of the data regardless of whether it’s an internal or external source, and its type (text, image, audio, HTML, XML or others). It also delivers intelligent capabilities to identify the location of malicious components and identifies methods to remove threats from the detected malicious components. The ASOC Innovation Team ensures the logistics data integrity and security across the global supply chain.
With the technology developed, Coviello said it is now being piloted with the help of the Aviation and Missile Command’s Corpus Christi Army Depot. The Defense Intelligence Innovation Office, an element within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, has joined AMCOM, AMC and the Air Force Research Laboratory in the demonstration phase.
“Research gets to the point where you have to prototype and get to then test it operationally,” Coviello said. “We have taken the tool kit to the Organic Industrial Base at Corpus Christi Army Depot to use it in securing data for the control system on the production line.
“This project is helping AMC better address cybersecurity needs and enhance cyber resiliency throughout our Organic Industrial Base. It can detect insider threats before they happen. It can monitor data, ensure our supply chain is reliable and defend the sustainment mission at our depots.”
Cybersecurity systems designed for the control production lines, networks and other large data systems are not readily available in the commercial sector because they are one-of-a-kind systems developed to fit a unique mission, Coviello said.
“But the capability the ASOC tools are delivering involves the development of algorithms that can be applied to other control systems,” she said. “We hope to test this concept and demonstrate at the Corpus Christi depot that ASOC tools can be adapted to different cybersecurity missions.”
An associated effort of the ASOC project has also garnered a $1 million Small Business Technology Transfer grant, overseen through the Futures Command in coordination with the Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance – known as CCDC C5ISR – at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. That technology development research will specifically address cybersecurity requirements on the Army’s tactical level systems in deployed environments.
While Coviello is enthusiastic about the ASOC tools capabilities, she said the team collaboration made the ASOC project rewarding on a professional level.
“It was great to see the synergy between such a diverse group of folks from all across the government, academia and industry,” she said. “The employee growth was evident. One of the core competencies of the Senior Executive Service is to build coalitions. As an Army senior leader, it is a passion of mine to bring teams together and encourage collaboration that develops both leaders and solutions.”