Cyber security’s big threat? Finding the talent

Writing for Defence Online, Melanie Jones, Product Director for cyber security portfolios at Global Knowledge, examines the skills shortage in cyber security professionals.

Recent cybersecurity surveys from Cybersecurity Insiders and IBM agree that the main security-related concerns for businesses are data loss and leakage, and the effect they have on an organisation’s bottom line and reputation.  The organisations that experience data breaches, no matter their size, will feel the financial impact of the breach for years. According to IBM’s calculations, data breaches cost businesses around £125 for each lost or stolen record.  Another thing that the recent surveys, along with other industry reports, agree upon is that the way to address this is by improving the skills and experience of the workforce.  

Each year, Global Knowledge conducts a survey of its own. The IT Skills and Salary Report is the largest worldwide study, taking in the feedback of 12,200 IT professionals from 159 countries.  This year, in our 12th annual report, it was cybersecurity and cloud skills that dominated the key findings.  More than two-thirds of decision-makers reported a gap between their team’s skill levels and the knowledge required to achieve organisational objectives. This is the second year that this skills gap has increased, leading to higher levels of employee stress, delays in development of critical projects and loss of revenue.  When asked where the gaps exist, 81% of IT decision-makers said their cyber skills shortage is a medium or high risk to their business, and that cybersecurity remains the most difficult tech specialism in which to find qualified talent. 

The demand for IT skills is already pushing up salaries. IT professionals earned, on average, £4,000 more this year compared to 2018, with a premium on cloud, cyber security, IT architecture and project management skills. The average global salary for an IT professional is £71,895 – the highest it’s been in the 12 years that Global Knowledge has prepared its IT Skills and Salary Report. Jobs in cloud computing are commanding the highest salaries. They are 29% larger than the global average, followed by IT architecture and design, programme management and cybersecurity. For Europe, Middle East and Africa, IT professionals in large organisations (5,000+ people) had a 23% salary bump over mid-sized companies. 

With qualified talent hard to find and a bigger price to pay for those who have the experience to deliver in the crucial areas of AI and cybersecurity, what will companies do to bridge the gap? Many organisations will have little option but to turn to temporary staff and interim managers to cover the shortages. But only 31% of ITDM want to bring in contractors or hire additional staff, according to our survey, given the difficulties that can come when integrating temporary staff and the knowledge transfer needed to be successful.  

In June, during London Tech Week, the Government announced a £1.2 billion investment into the UK by global tech companies.  With a pledge of funding for 2,500 places on AI and data conversion courses from 2020, it is clear that AI skills are seen as vital if the UK hopes to remain Europe’s largest tech hub.  The Government’s push to address skills shortages in cloud, AI and cybersecurity needs to remain a priority over the next few years.  Post-Brexit things aren’t expected to get easier when hiring European staff may prove complicated, only exacerbating the chasm between skill requirements and availability.  According to (ISC)2, there could be up to 1.8 million information security-related roles unfilled worldwide by 2022.  In Europe, the shortfall is projected to be about 350,000, with the UK’s share of unfilled cyber security jobs expected to be around 100,000.   

Other business leaders are planning to get more out of existing employees to address the effects of talent shortages. Effective training that is part of an enterprise-wide plan benefits the company as well as the individual. Training can help companies retain staff and increase staff loyalty as most employees appreciate development opportunities.  88% of Global Knowledge survey respondents took part in some training activity in the last 12 months. There remains a concern that training takes staff away from their work and eats into the department’s budgetHowever, the impact of skills gaps on the productivity of IT staff has a greater detrimental impact.  64% of IT leaders in the survey said that skills gaps cost their team three to eight hours a week in productivity. Employees at all levels find it harder to do their jobs. Skills gaps are increasingly a significant factor in project delays and failures. 

Cyber security remains in the news, with high profile hacks and data leaks reported daily. Some of the world’s leading cybersecurity solution providers have recently been hacked themselves.  While technology is part of the solution, to really protect an organisation from cyber-attack, companies need people to keep the systems safe. While the lack of professionals with knowledge and experience of cybersecurity continues to outstrip demand, the risks remain.  

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Cyber threats faced by the military

Advancing technology has had the dual effect of improving cybersecurity processes and making cyber threats more complicated and harder to defend against. In recent years high-profile attacks such as WannaCry have put many companies and government organisations on high alert.

Military ambitions for a smarter, more connected arsenal create more potential doors for cyber attackers to enter, creating a need for comprehensive and holistic defence. Fears over foreign powers using cyber-warfare to influence other nations and potentially compromise armies have become a bigger priority for militaries. The Armed forces are increasingly viewing cyber attacks on par with physical threats. Military structures are changing to combat these new methods of compromising security.

The military has been investing in IoT for the last few years. The US Army is investing in the Internet of Battle Things (IoBT), connecting devices across the battlefield to have equipment working as one entity and improving situational awareness. IoT can revolutionise how battlefields work, but they create a new risk where data can be compromised in a number of devices, meaning hackers no longer have a single central computer system to attack, but many entry points.

There is a risk of data from a single device being lost or compromised. With many devices in one network, it could be easy to compromise one while leaving the overall system undisturbed. There is also a risk of data spoofing from any device. This is when false information is sent from a seemingly reliable source. Battlefield awareness could be compromised like this, with fake information about the battlefield being sent, for example, from a surveillance device.

There is also a risk to the overall network. If a hacker can take over one device they can potentially gain access to others. The risk of interconnected devices is that there is no longer one entry point, but many. This can be a golden opportunity for cyber attackers if preventative measures are not taken. As well as threats to the network, the physical destruction of one device could potentially cause far greater harm. If, for example, a surveillance device in one crucial spot is destroyed, this could have a profound effect on an entire operation. There have been previous examples of attackers targeting connected military devices. This can be either to steal information or to dismantle a network of devices.

Both the US DoD and the British MOD have plans for large groups of unmanned vehicles and drones controlled through connected networks and IoT. Attacks on these connected unmanned vehicles could be a big problem, especially if they are used as weapons. The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) started a project to produce a secure process for multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The organisation was looking for systems that ensured security at all levels of operation, including sensors, platform, platform autonomy, computer processing, and communications. Drones in both the commercial and defence sector have become a target for cybercriminals since they became more commonly used. In 2018, the Pentagon temporarily banned commercial drones in order to patch a vulnerability in their systems. The US has also been wary of Chinese-manufactured drones with fears that data could be obtained by enemy forces. Drones can also be used to initiate cyberattacks. Networks can be attacked with drones carrying equipment to steal or change data.

Drones have been able to highjack Bluetooth devices and spoof data through transmitters. Military facilities have no-fly zones and drone detection perimeters to prevent attacks but powerful transmitters could still pose a threat. Multiple drones working in synchronisation could also be used by cybercriminals, making it more difficult to detect and defend against them. The MAC address of a drone can be altered to evade detection. RF scanners can detect commercial drones based on their brand, but often fail to identify them if they are not triangulated.

Cyberattacks pose a threat to military staff’s personal information. Previous attacks have targeted data on personnel. The increasing digitalisation of personal records poses a risk of cyberattacks. Veterans can be specifically targeted with malware through personal computer systems, often through spam emails and websites. Attackers can use websites that are similar to government sites and offer free downloads. Attackers can even target personal devices such as smartphones and tablets. Scammers also use fake veterans charity websites to encourage users to download apps and information. The malware can then be used to scan the computer’s data and steal information. Experts say that cybersecurity training needs to be improved across military organisations. The US military needs more IT staff, according to a 2017 report from the Defence Contract Management Agency (DCMA). Concerns have also been raised over the security of online databases, following attacks. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act database has been criticised for allowing scammers to access veteran’s personal information. The database keeps a record of veterans so they can be verified to receive benefits but critics say it has become too easily accessible. Anyone could access personnel or veteran service records through searching a name. It is also feared that enemy forces could target records on troops and veterans. In Australia, concerns have been raised over foreign militaries using domestic technology companies to gain access to army data. Hackers could also target personnel to unwittingly release sensitive military information through online scams.

There have been attacks on military organisations as well as wider government networks. Many attacks are state-sponsored, such as US operations earlier this year targeting Iranian Missile Launch Systems. Cyber attacks are becoming a common feature of warfare, computer systems are a target as they are becoming more crucial to operations. Russia has been accused of tampering with elections and China has been implicated in hacking phones to obtain data.

The Ukranian Military was also allegedly hacked by Russia and the Lithuanian Defence Minister was the victim of a spoofing attack. Emergency services and health providers have also been targeted by denial of service attacks, including the prominent WannaCry attack on the NHS. Cyberwarfare has been used to target ISIS by many western militaries, disrupting communication with coalition forces. In January of this year, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said that a North Korean Botnet had targeted aerospace companies along with media, infrastructure, and finance.

The US and UK have expressed ongoing fears about Huawei technology in the military. The Chinese company has been accused of being linked closely to the Chinese government, and many countries have discouraged or banned use of its technology, particularly 5G. In Australia, China was accused of using links to universities to compromise National Security. Military organisations such as the Pakistani Air Force, a Swiss Defence Lab, and the Vietnamese army have also been targeted. Defence Industry such as the Australian shipbuilder Austal have also been victims, last year hackers stole ship designs and sold them online.

Military ambitions for technological advancement have to be matched with increased cybersecurity. Attacks on weapons could have disastrous consequences, and cyber warfare is already changing how wars are fought. Cyber attacks mean that national forces with the most capability for cyber infiltration can gain the upper hand. There is an argument for investing in hacking methods as well as taking preventative measures to stop attacks. As they become more prevalent and militaries become more modernised, they are becoming an essential weapon in conflicts of all sizes.

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DIO: Commercial Transformation in Defence Infrastructure

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) plays a vital role in supporting the UK’s Armed Forces by building, maintaining and servicing the infrastructure needed to support defence and is responsible for enabling defence people to live, work, train and deploy at home and overseas.

Last year saw the launch of the DIOMO Commercial Strategy, which outlined the steps to be taken to make it easier for the supply chain to engage with the organisation.

The strategy contains five guiding principles to support the delivery of DIO’s vision and outlines how the organisation will improve to better serve its customers and work with suppliers.

These principles – We will be easier to do business with; We will work faster and smarter for our customers; We will have a broader and more diverse supply base; We will engage meaningfully with our stakeholders; and We will focus on value, not price: or the ‘We wills’ – define the vision for the Commercial Strategy, and already significant progress has been made in their delivery.

Speaking earlier this year, DIO’s Commercial Director Jacqui Rock, delivered a progress update on DIO’s commercial transformation.

On the first – We will be easier to do business with – Ms Rock explained: “I met with our supplier base and asked how it feels to do business with defence and with DIO. By gaining this understanding, I was able to put a programme in place to make sure that we are consistent, proportionate and transparent with how that end-to-end process works.

“We want to be open and transparent in procurement. This is going to increase our choice of suppliers and I absolutely believe we can reduce the cost of business because of the bidding activity.”

It is envisaged that a new category-led strategic environment will also improve engagement with suppliers.

“All the strategic decisions across the MOD estate are done by categories – such as Hard FM, Soft FM, Construction, PFI and Utilities.

“I have introduced commercial category managers from the private sector to come in with that industry expertise to work in DIO and work with the Front Line Commands in order to deliver our estate.”

We will work faster and smarter for our customers centres on early engagement, not just with the Front Line Commands but also with suppliers. Ms Rock says it’s about looking strategically and collaboratively at longer-term plans and putting those business cases at the front of the process.

Greater strategic collaboration across government will also help to deliver a more considered approach to the publishing of the larger frameworks.

Ms Rock noted: “We are now able to work strategically with suppliers and ensure we are all connected. One of the important things about that is that, for the first time, we as a government can now be very aware of the impact we have on the market.

“There have been times when I’ve launched very large procurements at the same time as the Health or Justice departments – in the same industries and in the same arena. This collaborative approach means we now have a much more strategic outlook.”

The principle of We will have a broader and more diverse supply base is all about SME engagement and reaping the rewards that this brings.

Ms Rock commented: “It is one of my key objectives to increase the diversification in the supplier base. It’s about delivering a range of services and the different innovation that it brings to defence. With a more diverse supplier base we will increase the value to taxpayers and growth by generating true competition and opportunity that is unhindered by a supplier’s size and experience with DIO.”

DIO’s shift from a contracts administration business to a value added commercial function with Front Line Commands and suppliers is at the forefront of We will engage meaningfully with our stakeholders.

“It is our job as commercial experts to bring innovation and new ideas in partnership with our suppliers into our stakeholders. When it comes to procurement, I want to exploit technology to make that process as streamlined and as automated as possible. This would allow us to focus a lot more on adding strategic value up-front and carrying out effective contract management,” said Ms Rock.

In the past, procurement was focused on cost and driving down the price. We will focus on value, not price sets out to change this mentality.

Ms Rock explained: “I committed to change and to modernise the way DIO procures, and feedback would indicate that our suppliers are now starting to feel this difference.

“The way we manage the tender process is changing. There will be a lot more site visits, a significant number of workshops at framework level and lots of face-to-face senior executive meetings.

“The key message is we are changing how we procure and the award criteria to increase focus on collaboration and behaviours.”

DIO followed up its Commercial Strategy with the release of its Procurement Plan, outlining its strategy on construction and infrastructure. This marks the first time the organisation has outlined its priorities to existing and potential suppliers.

Ms Rock is also keen to highlight the opportunities available to suppliers through the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme. The 25-year strategy was published in 2016 to optimise the defence estate and meet future military requirements.

The defence estate currently accounts for approximately 1.8% of the UK’s land mass, with over 40% of the estate being over 50 years old. Managing an ageing estate of this size diminishes the MOD’s capability to support the future needs of the UK Armed Forces, or indeed to represent the best value for the taxpayer.

By creating a smaller and more focused estate, investment can be directed to enduring sites to meet military requirements and increase prosperity for the surrounding communities.

The £4 billion committed by the programme to developing the defence estate will create and sustain jobs in the construction industry, while the release of sites that the MOD no longer needs provides opportunities for a wide range of commercial uses, creating regeneration, business growth and local jobs.

The type of work undertaken by DIO is incredibly wide-ranging. Recently, a number of contracts have been awarded including housing renovation projects in Bassingbourn, Gillingham and Ickenham; the installation of fixed cranes on a jetty in Portsmouth Harbour; and the resurfacing of roads in Woolwich, Wyton and Chepstow.

Ms Rock, said: “The opportunities for suppliers to get involved on the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme are vast. It touches construction, disposals, new builds, family accommodations – it touches everything.”

image © Crown Copyright

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RAF explores methods of accident prediction

The RAF has released a document exploring its history of accident prediction and how it can be improved.

The RAF has explored its past and how it can improve methods of accident prediction and safety in a new document released by the government. The report explores how methods have changed in the 107 years since the first accident investigation in the UK, involving a Flanders F4 Monoplane, and looks at what needs to be changed in modern methods to adapt to today’s technology. The incident in 1912 was investigated by the Public Safety and Accidents Investigation Committee of the Royal Aero Club who determined that the fault came from the pilot not being strapped into his seat.

It is now compulsory for pilots to wear a seat harness and in over 100 years many other safety procedures have become mandatory within the RAF. The report calls for the RAF to move from reactive measures when it comes to accidents and improve predictive management. The current system is based on recommendations in the Nimrod Review conducted by Charles Haddon-Cave QC.

The Report, investigating the loss of the RAF Nimrod MR2 Aircraft XV230 in Afghanistan, cites the ‘swiss cheese’ model of accident investigation formulated by Professor James Reason. Theoretical ‘cheese slices’ represent barriers to accidents occurring and the holes represent flaws or oversights which, when aligned, allow accidents to happen. Barriers to accidents could be in the form of individual responsibility, infrastructure, supervision, training, and procedures.

The report examines other methods of accident prediction, including ‘Heinrichs Iceberg’. This theory surmises that for every fatal accident and serious incident, there may be hundreds of hazard observations and reportable occurrences which, if dealt with properly, can prevent far more serious problems. Currently, Defence Aviation uses the Air Safety Information Management Systems (ASIMS) to record safety issues and near misses.

The system has been running for ten years and thousands of incidents have been reported. The new report emphasises the importance of systems like this, which allow for the analysis of smaller incidents which can foresee and prevent more serious ones. It encourages an ‘Engaged Safety Culture’ allowing for easy reporting of incidences and ensuring personnel do not fear negative reactions to speaking out about safety issues.

The report recommends that investigations focus on the barriers ensuring safety and where they may have failed, rather than focussing on assigning blame. It states that there is rarely one single error, but rather a series of failings. It looks at a number of recent ASIMS reports where aircrew personnel mistakenly took aircraft which had been signed for, as well as engineers who accidentally performed maintenance on the wrong aircraft.

It looks at how safety assessment models could prevent such incidents, or more serious ones, in the future. The report details the barriers in place to prevent the wrong aircraft being used or worked on, such as well-displayed tail numbers, groundcrew double-checking aircraft, and identifying aircraft by nicknames. It states that inexpensive and easy to enforce measures like these for all potential accidents could have a positive impact on the number of more serious reports.

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Is Arbitration Still Worth it?

Michael A. Doornweerd & Anna J. Mitran[1] from Jenner & Block LLP write for Defence Online as they examine the role of arbitration to resolve disputes within the defence industry.

Arbitration, rather than litigation, has long been the preferred method of dispute resolution in the aerospace and defence industries.[2] Stemming from arbitration clauses in the applicable contracts, arbitration offers several advantages over traditional litigation that may be particularly attractive to actors in the defence industry. Arbitration is often speedier, less intrusive (less discovery), more flexible, and less expensive than litigation—compelling benefits in the fast-paced aerospace and defence fields.[3] Further, arbitration proceedings are often confidential (or can be made confidential), and at the very least offer the parties the opportunity to avoid filing their claims on publicly accessible dockets.[4] Confidentiality is a valuable feature for industry participants seeking to avoid disclosure of intellectual property or classified information, or hoping to avoid publicising an accident or safety concern to risk-averse customers.[5] Of course, arbitration comes with its own set of risks—speed, efficiency, and flexibility may mean unpredictability of procedure or shallow depth of analysis, and ill-reasoned arbitration awards are notoriously difficult to overturn.[6]

Recently, in the broader commercial context, arbitration has come under increasing criticism. The perceived unfairness arising from mandatory arbitration agreements, lack of diversity among arbitration neutrals, and the expense and delays of the arbitration process are leading companies in many industries to rethink whether arbitration is appropriate. For the defence and aerospace industry, however, arbitration of commercial disputes—conducted under a thoughtful arbitration provision—remains a sound choice. Arbitration is well suited to the increasing internationalisation of commercial contracts in the defence industry, and offers access to neutrals with the specialised knowledge and experience that can be necessary to rendering efficient, quality decisions.

The International Advantage

The defence and aerospace industry, once a United States-centric industry with a relatively small set of actors, has become increasingly international in the past 10 to 20 years.[7] Driven in part by economic realities since the 2008 recession, including decreasing defence budgets, US companies are increasingly taking their business abroad—and this trend is likely to continue.[8] Whereas historically, defence disputes were resolved either internally or through domestic arbitration, the growing numbers of cross-border disputes have increased the incidence of international arbitrations.[9] International arbitrations allow the parties to avoid either side getting a home-court advantage in its own legal system, as well as obtain a final award that can be enforced internationally.[10]

International arbitration is an increasingly common choice for resolving defence-industry commercial disputes, and arbitral institutions are responding to today’s popular criticisms. While precise data is difficult to find, the recent statistics released by the International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) are informative. In 2018, the ICC set new records in the number of cases registered (842) and draft awards approved (599). [11] The vast majority of the parties in those cases were commercial entities, and many of the disputes arbitrated were in the areas of defense and security, and specialised technology.[12] The average duration of proceedings in cases that went to a final award in 2018 was two years and four months, and the median duration was two years.[13] By way of comparison, the median time in months to trial for the US District Court for the Northern District of California over approximately the same period was 21.4 months.[14] To promote efficiency, expedited arbitration procedures that yield a final award within six months of the case-management conference are available for cases where the total amount in dispute does not exceed US$ 2 million, or where parties expressly opt in. Finally, the ICC has made progress on gender diversity—the number of women arbitrators sitting in ICC tribunals was at 18.8% in 2018, and the ICC launched the “ICC Gender Balance Pledge” in late 2018 to commit to increase gender diversity across its platform.[15] The ICC is just one international association, but as a global arbitration leader, these recent statistics likely reflect broader trends.

Experienced Neutrals   

Defence disputes frequently require industry familiarity or technological expertise, such that many generalist arbitrators may experience a high “learning curve,” resulting in increased inefficiencies, costs, and potential for error. For these reasons, specialised arbitral institutions and procedures have been organised in an effort to meet the demand for defence and aerospace expertise in dispute resolution, with varied degrees of success. For example, a set of industry-specific arbitration rules pertaining to outer-space disputes was adopted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (“PCA”) in 2011, based in large part on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”) Arbitration Rules of 2010.[16] The modified rules include an explicit waiver of sovereign immunity and added confidentiality safeguards.[17] Additionally, the rules require the PCA to maintain a list of arbitrators with aerospace experience, as well as lists of technical experts available to serve as expert witnesses.[18] More recently, the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) and its international counterpart, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (“ICDR”), created a specialised panel of arbitrators and mediators in 2016.[19] Known as the Aerospace, Aviation, and National Security Panel, the featured neutrals purportedly have the requisite industry expertise to handle “complex, high-value aerospace, aviation, defence, cyber, and security-related disputes both domestically and internationally.”[20] Parties can request that a case administrator select a chair or panel of arbitrators from this specialised roster, and parties themselves can consider these diverse, vetted professionals in making a party appointment. The goal is for the parties to the dispute to have confidence that the arbitrators they select or appoint will have appropriate experience.

Notwithstanding today’s criticisms, arbitration remains a valid option for resolving commercial disputes in the defence industry. To maximise its advantages and meet today’s arbitration criticisms, companies would be well served by crafting their arbitration provisions to ensure that an appropriate arbitral institution has been identified, considering or opting-in to expedited procedures if appropriate, and examining neutrals on specialised rosters when making a party-appointment or selecting an arbitration panel.

[1] Michael A. Doornweerd is a partner, and Anna J. Mitran is an associate, at Jenner & Block LLP. The views expressed in this article are their own, and do not reflect the views of Jenner & Block LLP or any of its clients.
[2] See Carson W. Bennett, Houston, We Have an Arbitration: International Arbitration’s Role in Resolving Commercial Aerospace Disputes, 19 Pepp. Disp. Resol. L.J. 61, 69 (2019).
[3] Id.; see also Stephen E. Smith & Lester W. Shiefelbein, Jr., Arbitration Disputes of the Aerospace Industry, College of Commercial Arbitrators, at 2, https://www.ccaarbitration.org/wp-content/uploads/Disputes-in-the-Aerospace-Industry.pdf (2017).
[4] Bennett, supra note 2, at 69.
[5] Id.
[6] For example, under the United States Federal Arbitration Act, an arbitration award may be vacated only where “the award was procured by corruption, fraud, or undue means,” “there was evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators,” the arbitrators acted such that “the rights of any party have been prejudiced,” or “the arbitrators exceeded their powers.” 9 U.S.C. § 10(a).
[7] Caroline Simson, Why Aerospace Cos. Are Forgoing Courts for Int’l Arbitration, Law360, https://www.law360.com/articles/859940/print?section=aerospace (Nov. 9, 2016, 3:29 PM EST).
[8] Id.
[9] Id.
[10] Id.; Smith & Schiefelbein, supra note 3, at 2.
[11] ICC Dispute Resolution 2018 Statistics, Int’l Chamber of Commerce, www.iccwbo.org/dr-stat2018, at 4 (2019).
[12] See id. at 13.
[13] Id. at 15.
[14] Robert Tata, ‘Rocket Docket’ Justifies Its Name for 11th Straight Year, Law360, https://www.law360.com/articles/1167066 (June 10, 2019, 4:45 EDT).
[15] ICC Dispute Resolution 2018 Statistics, supra note 12, at 5.
[16] Id. at 5; Bennett, supra note 2 at 73.
[17] Bennett, supra note 2 at 73.
[18] Id.
[19] Caroline Simson, AAA Creates New Panel for Aerospace, Security Disputes, Law360, https://www.law360.com/articles/857522/print?section=aerospace (Oct. 31, 2016, 6:30 PM EDT).
[20] Aerospace, Aviation, and National Security Panel, Am. Arb. Ass’n, http://go.adr.org/aans-panel.html (last accessed Aug. 9, 2019).

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Why the future of warfare is invisible

Writing for Defence Online, Charles White, CEO of Information Risk Management, Altran discusses the evolution of cyber security.

Do you remember the first time you heard the term “cyber”? It used to be a thing of the future – a word used in the realms of science fiction that conjured up images of droids and driverless vehicles when it first appeared more than half a century ago. The term “cybersecurity” initially involved rudimentary firewalls and security for programmes on CD-ROMs. How things have changed. Fast forward to today and the term is synonymous with use cases around hacking and dangerous confrontations.

In the world of cybersecurity and defence, the industry is rapidly seeing the convergence of internet technology with operational technology. Manufacturers, businesses and the armed forces globally are harnessing the benefits of rapid automation to improve productivity and defence. By enabling devices and the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), the defence industry has harnessed the power of connectivity to massively increase functionality and make improvements to almost every facet of defence strategy.

 

Planes, drones and submarines

Innovations in hardware and software, along with artificial intelligence (AI), have paved the way for the development of powerful technology-driven tools such as the dramatic advancements in drone technology. Airborne military drones have helped nations gain aerial intelligence while fully autonomous underwater submersibles laden with sophisticated systems have delivered cargo to naval crews.

Modern weapons contain highly advanced computer systems to enable their functionality and to make them more automated, easier to control, more accurate and more effective for operational requirements. However as new devices and technologies come online and are adopted by the military establishment, they are subjected to cyber threats alongside traditional physical security threats. This new invisible form of warfare has already commenced.

As recent as last month, the world witnessed this in full effect when the United States launched a cyberattack on Iranian weapon systems. There have been reports of previous cyber incursions, but this was widely seen as a game-changer. A nation state was actively looking to exploit vulnerabilities in military equipment and where warfare could increasingly look like a loss of connectivity — rather than a loss of life.

 

Now you see me…

Cyberattacks are now seen in the same light as acts of war and have driven the need to create cyber units in the military, such as the UK’s Joint Cyber Reserve Force. Indeed, this was the first offensive show of force since the U.S. Cyber Command, part of the U.S. Department of Defense, was elevated to a full combatant command in May this year after being given new authority by President Trump.

The offensive cyber-strike that disabled Iranian computer systems were used to control rocket and missile launches. This is a real example of how the military has adapted to technological advances, underscoring the essential need for armed forces to develop robust cyber offensive and defensive capabilities as part of their arsenal.

There are other high-profile examples of where cyberattacks may be considered an act of war, and this is currently an area of great debate. The Stuxnet code was almost certainly created by a nation state and was touted by many as the first cyber weapon. It was written with the sole purpose of disrupting a uranium enrichment programme.

To withstand these variants of attacks, every facet of the military now needs to ensure that the tools and techniques at their disposal are designed and built with cybersecurity threats in mind. The design and assurance activities that were applicable to traditional IT need to be adopted where these architectures are now a part of complex weapon systems and other military devices that are becoming heavily reliant on technology. It is an absolute given that cyberattacks are here to stay. Nations will exploit online vulnerabilities.

With the adoption of technological advances, such as IoT and AI, come new cybersecurity considerations that need to be controlled and mitigated. Alarmingly, security experts have found that even modern military devices such as drones have security flaws in critical mechanisms that could be exploited by an adversary. Even communications systems – via the internet, radio and other airborne transport mechanisms – have shown vulnerabilities. The speed of adoption of new technologies should not come at the expense of cybersecurity, especially in defence.

 

Peekaboo – now I don’t see you

“Cyber” has entered the lexicon of modern warfare through the use of cyber Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs). And in many ways, the evolution of how “cyber” has been used in both defence and offence mirrors the evolution of warfare and weapons themselves. Initially it was hand-to-hand combat. Then, as gunpowder gave rise to more powerful weapons that could be shot from a distance, adversaries began moving farther and farther away from the battleground. With cyber threats, the theatre of war continues to change.

Cyberwarfare is truly invisible. An attack can be carried out from anywhere – thousands of miles away or a few doors away. The future of warfare now depends on a military’s ability to rapidly modernise and meet a series of invisible threats. For military decision makers, out of sight is not out of mind.

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Make procurement smarter with artificial intelligence

Peter Kinder, CTO at Wax Digital, looks at the potentially significant advantages of successfully integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning within the world of procurement – and the challenges in doing so.

According to IT analyst IDC, spending on artificial intelligence (AI) systems will reach $77.6 billion by 2022. Many organisations are already automating tasks to be intelligent, and it’s getting more advanced as adoption increases. Some businesses use AI to detect fraud in online transactions, while others use it to segment customers for marketing purposes, and there’s scope for so much more. The rise in popularity of AI-controlled voice assistants is also playing a key role in the technology’s growth. This market alone, including the likes of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, is set to reach $7.8 billion by 2023.

But rather than rushing to implement AI, organisations should first consider if and where there’s value in doing so. Procurement is one function where the benefits of AI and machine learning are potentially huge.

 

Using AI to understand and sort data

For a long time, procurement has been focused on data collection. Every day, the function generates information on areas such as expenditure and suppliers, and only through rigorous analysis of this data can processes improve. For example, if procurement identifies that IT equipment budgets have been exceeded in one quarter, it can investigate the reasons why and take action; perhaps changing suppliers.

AI-enabled procurement systems have the power to spot worrying trends and alert the team automatically, removing the need for staff to spend time analysing data.

If AI is integrated with voice technology, organisations can also access key insights through a simple voice command. Just asking the system “How much did we spend on stationery in Q3?” can give a procurement professional the information they need instantly; quicker than sifting through order history.

 

Making payments seamless and accurate

Managing supplier invoices is difficult when an organisation uses hundreds of suppliers with different payment terms. An intelligent procurement system ensures that invoices are processed automatically when they’re received in different formats. It will match the supplier reference to the supplier data in the system to determine when payment should be made. It can then manage the process of approvals, forwarding the invoice to the person who has the power to do that, or approving it automatically by matching it to the agreed purchase order.

With the company’s policies, procedures and regulations programmed into it, the system can ensure that all actions carried out are in line with the organisation’s buying guidelines, and any errors in invoices can be identified automatically; taking away the need for employees to manually intervene.

 

Behaviour-driven AI, that learns as you do things

Procurement AI can also act as an intelligent advisor to team members. Rather than responding to what a human instructs or asks of it, AI can use machine learning to spot cost and efficiency savings. For instance, when new stock is required, the process typically relies on someone identifying a need for it and making a purchase requisition. The buying team then researches the best product based on several factors before placing an order. But, AI can utilise big data analytics and automate the buying process for employees. It can inform procurement when stock runs low based on previous buying patterns, and automatically find the best price before making the purchase.

We’re seeing vendors in the procurement software space developing AI to go beyond pure product suggestions, and have the ability to prompt employees to make orders when they probably need to do so. The platform has a procurement bot that tracks actions employees take and tailors interactions according to different user requirements. When an employee orders some new stationery every Friday, the system will ask that employee whether they want to place the same order every week on the same day, eliminating the need for them to remember.

 

Overcoming the obstacles

AI offers exciting prospects to improve procurement. However, organisations shouldn’t underestimate the challenge of equipping procurement systems with intelligent capabilities.

While voice-enabled apps that use AI such as Siri and Cortana are popular, these apps need to be able to turn what would normally be a few mouse clicks, keyboard types or touches into a single voice interaction. But a voice interaction should give the same response to a single question, without the user having to provide further clarity, as that’s what the technology promises. For example, a user might need to make ten separate mouse clicks on a procurement platform to answer a specific question such as “How much did each department spend on IT in Q1 2019 compared to budget?” The voice technology platform will need to be developed to know what actions should be performed to get this answer from this one question. Multiply this by the number of questions that it could be asked, and this illustrates the level of work required. eProcurement providers developing voice technology should focus on making this aspect possible.

Compared to consumer-based apps, developing voice and AI-enabled systems for business is challenging. Consumer systems generally don’t require the same depth of functionality. But, an AI solution in a business environment such as procurement needs to feature complex functionality such as PO approval, invoice processing or big data analytics to assess the cost-effectiveness of the products or services purchased. Providers of these platforms have challenges to overcome before it’s integrated into their offerings.

AI is set to transform the way we do procurement

AI doesn’t have to be a replacement for jobs when rolled out in procurement organisations. It can be an asset that makes day-to-day tasks more efficient and seamless, allowing employees to spend more time carrying out strategic activities. Procurement has scope to be enhanced by the rollout of AI, helping not only the department itself but also employees across the business. The journey begins with an innovative eProcurement solution that can take buying activities to the next level.

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How vulnerable is your data?

Is a loss of data caused by a breakdown in physical security any less damaging than a loss caused by a breakdown in cyber security? With all the emphasis on cyber security, physical security has taken a back seat. The purpose of this article is to discuss vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure and present easily implemented mitigation.

We will not discuss what a hacker or terrorist can do once inside a data closet. Needless to say, you don’t want those people on the inside of your facility. Understand that if a hacker or terrorist is in your data closet, he or she is already inside your firewall. Data closet doors are often not opened or checked for weeks or even months. These intruders may never be detected.

 

Inspection story

Let’s review some of the issues related to the physical security of data. Finding a data closet is a very simple matter. Walk down any hallway in a business complex and listen. The noise from the fans used to cool the data switches is a dead giveaway, this is a data closet door.

Recently I had completed an inspection of a data closet. When walking away from the closet, the click of the door closing did not sound right to me. The door had recently been secured with a new badge entry system. As I checked the installation, I noticed the gap between the door edge and the jamb was too wide. I was able to open the door in 1.6 seconds with a piece of plastic, sometimes called the “credit card door-opening trick”.

Become familiar with the proper action of a dead latch on a door lock. Improper installation of the lock on the door mentioned above is what allowed the 1.6-second defeat of the door lock. An internet search as simple as “dead latch not working” will produce an ample list on how to mitigate this vulnerability.

 

Key control deficiencies

Mechanical key control is probably the most common known weakness of physical security. If a “Grand Master” key is lost and then found years later, it can still open all the locks. Another weakness of mechanical keys is any key can be duplicated. An audited list of keys and keyholders is not a “guarantee” of who has every key. Even “high security” or “patented” keys can be defeated.

At another building I found an unlocked door. I was able to remove the lock cylinder with a power screwdriver in about 17 seconds. When maintenance or security finds a missing cylinder, they may dismiss the issue with “people will steal anything”, replace the missing cylinder and never give it another thought. With that cylinder and a rudimentary knowledge of locks, even the grand master key can be reverse engineered. With a few tools, a block of metal and enough time, a grand master “key” can be handmade, giving access to every door.

A cell phone camera may be the biggest threat to mechanical keys. Because of specifications in manufacturing, a photograph of a key will reveal the depths of the cuts used for a key to open a door. With that information, and a basic knowledge of locks, anyone can handmake a key to your door. Even easier is a key-making service. Visit key.me on the internet.

 

Key control remediation

One solution to mechanical keys is to eliminate them with just badge access. However, this may not be practical for a hospital. If a data closet goes down taking the badge reader down at the same time, it may become a “life safety” issue if patient monitoring and electronic records are affected. Other institutions may have similar issues with dire consequences if a failed badge reader is the only access to the data closet.

Another solution to mechanical keys is an electronic key system. Several exist, including those manufactured by Medeco and ASSA-Abloy. A desirable feature of electronic keys is that each key has a limited life, from 1 day to 365 days. Before the key expires, the user needs to plug the key into a “refresh station”. The electronic key program provides an audit of where the key has been used. The key then receives a new schedule of where it may be used and a new expiration date. If a key is lost or an employee is terminated, that key can be “blacklisted” very quickly, preventing further use. The user can also be required to use a PIN to refresh his or her key, thus preventing a found key from being used by an unauthorised user.

 

Door hardware

Heavy duty steel door frames should be a requirement for secure areas, including data closets. Doors should be heavy duty solid core. A door closer is mandatory. Security doors need to close automatically. The door closer should swing the door completely closed so the latch and dead latch engage the strike plate properly. Door locks should be “storeroom” function that stays locked 100% of the time, and require a key or badge swipe every time the door is opened.

For locks with a mortis or rim cylinder, a security ring designed to spin while not allowing pliers or a pipe wrench to collapse around the cylinder, should be used. Pliers can grab the outer rim of a cylinder and force the cylinder to turn and be removed. A mortice cylinder is held in place with a set screw which can be forced or bent allowing the cylinder to be removed. At that point a finger can be inserted into the lock and can usually operate the locking mechanism quite easily, opening the door.

 

Badge access

Within most badge-access software is a “door propped open” feature. If a door is held open for more than a predetermined length of time, the system will alarm. Security can be dispatched to investigate and ensure the door is properly closed. Another feature in most badge access software is a “forced door alarm”. If the door opens any other way than a normal badge swipe, such as a door being kicked or forced open with a crow-bar, the system will alarm.

 

Security cameras

Additional security can be achieved with a motion activated camera and two-way voice capability. For each entry into a data closet, require that a work order be in place. Security, once alerted to motion, can view the person entering the closet and require them to show the work permit to the camera. If no permit can be produced, security can be dispatched to escort them from the building.

 

EMP

Question the manufacturers of the hardware used to physically protect your data areas as well as the actual components of your network. Have the printed circuits being used been tested against Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)? Some feel this is a real and imminent threat. Consider this in your business continuity plans.

These suggestions are by no means comprehensive and cannot guarantee that no one will be able to get in your data closet. The goal is: “Harden the target”. Implementing these and other suggestions may harden your data areas enough that a hacker or terrorist who might have been intent on getting physically inside your firewall, will be discouraged and try some other business or location. It is far better to keep that hacker out than to clean up the mess later.

To learn more on the topic of physical data security, and the wider topic of cybersecurity, please see the latest findings from ISACA’s State Of Cybersecurity Report (Part II), and the agenda for the EuroCACS/CSX 2019 conference occurring 16th-18th October in Switzerland.

 

BIO:

Carbon Lundgren, CISA, brings a unique perspective to securing IT assets that carry your data. With a background of 50 years in physical security, his career has now taken him to the position of lead security specialist for a world-renowned health care company with over 600 data areas to secure. Carbon has been heard to say, “I have a criminal mind”. Using the criminal mindset, Carbon has developed a best practices protocol that is becoming widely accepted by industry and governments. Some of the skills Carbon has learned is lock picking, and that of a professional safe-cracker. These skills directly relate to establishing physical barriers that will prevent hackers and terrorists from beginning their attacks inside the firewall. Carbon’s knowledge directly relates to several areas of COBIT: Appendix A: Mapping Pain Points to COBIT Processes and NIST: Table D-1: Mapping Access Control Requirements to Security Controls.

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DIO: Commercial Transformation in Defence Infrastructure 

Defence Online takes a look at the progress Defence Infrastructure Organisation Commercial Director Jacqui Rock is making in realising her vision to create and sustain a competitive market in the defence facilities management, construction and property advisory sectors. 

Jacqui Rock took up her role as Commercial Director at the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) in December 2017; she is responsible for putting in place and maintaining the commercial and procurement strategy and management control systems necessary to manage all commercial commitments made by DIO, as well as personally negotiating and awarding the largest of the agency’s contracts.  

Ms Rock recently delivered a progress update on commercial transformation following last year’s launch of DIO’s Commercial Strategy, which outlined the steps to be taken to make it easier for the supply chain to engage with the organisation.  The strategy contains five guiding principles to support the delivery of DIO’s vision and outlines how the organisation will improve to better serve its customers and work with suppliers.  

These principles  We will be easier to do business with; We will work faster and smarter for our customers; We will have a broader and more diverse supply base; We will engage meaningfully with our stakeholders; and We will focus on value, not price: or the ‘We wills’  define the vision for the commercial strategy, and already significant progress has been made in their delivery.  

On the first  We will be easier to do business with  Ms Rock explained: “I met with our supplier base and asked how it feels to do business with defence and with DIO. By gaining this understanding, I was able to put a programme in place to make sure that we are consistent, proportionate and transparent with how that end-to-end process works.    

“We want to be open and transparent in procurement. This is going to increase our choice of suppliers and I absolutely believe we can reduce the cost of business because of the bidding activity.”   

It is envisaged that a new category-led strategic environment will also improve engagement with suppliers. All the strategic decisions across the MOD estate are done by categories – such as Hard FM, Soft FM, Construction, PFI and Utilities. 

“I have introduced commercial category managers from the private sector to come in with that industry expertise to work in DIO and work with the Front Line Commands in order to deliver our estate.”   

We will work faster and smarter for our customers centres on early engagement, not just with the Front Line Commands but also with suppliers. Ms Rock says it’s about looking strategically and collaboratively at longer-term plans and putting those business cases at the front of the process. To facilitate this, a new cost and price analysis capability is to be introduced by 2020, which Ms Rock envisages will increase DIO’s price data capability.  

Greater strategic collaboration across government will also help to deliver a more considered approach to the publishing of the larger frameworks. 

Ms Rock noted: “We are now able to work strategically with suppliers and ensure we are all connected. One of the important things about that is that, for the first time, we as a government can now be very aware of the impact we have on the market.   

“There have been times when I’ve launched very large procurements at the same time as the Health or Justice departments – in the same industries and in the same arena. This collaborative approach means we now have a much more strategic outlook.”   

The principle of We will have a broader and more diverse supply base is all about SME engagement and reaping the rewards that this brings.  

Ms Rock explained: “It is one of my key objectives to increase the diversification in the supplier base. It’s about delivering a range of services and the different innovation that it brings to defence. With a more diverse supplier base we will increase the value to taxpayers and growth by generating true competition and opportunity that is unhindered by a supplier’s size and experience with DIO.” 

DIO’s shift from a contracts administration business to a valueadded commercial function with Front Line Commands and suppliers is at the forefront of We will engage meaningfully with our stakeholders.  

“It is our job as commercial experts to bring innovation and new ideas in partnership with our suppliers into our stakeholders. When it comes to procurement, I want to exploit technology to make that process as streamlined and as automated as possible. This would allow us to focus a lot more on adding strategic value up-front and carrying out effective contract management, said Ms Rock.  

In the past, procurement was focused on cost and driving down the price. We will focus on value, not price sets out to change this mentality.  

Ms Rock explained: I committed to change and to modernise the way DIO procures, and feedback would indicate that our suppliers are now starting to feel this difference.   

“The way we manage the tender process is changing. There will be a lot more site visits, a significant number of workshops at framework level and lots of face-to-face senior executive meetings.    

“The key message is we are changing how we procure and the award criteria to increase focus on collaboration and behaviours.”   

DIO followed up its Commercial Strategy with the release of its Procurement Plan, outlining its strategy on construction and infrastructure. This marks the first time the organisation has outlined its priorities to existing and potential suppliers.  

Ms Rock commented: “It’s the first time that DIO and MOD have been so visible and transparent about a five-year infrastructure strategy. It literally lays out everything we are going to be doing.  

“Suppliers can select from these hundreds of procurements and projects the ones they are interested in. It gives suppliers the chance to strategically plan and decide what to pitch and bid for.”  

Ms Rock is also keen to highlight the opportunities available to suppliers through the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme. The 25-year strategy was published in 2016 to optimise the defence estate and meet future military requirements.  

The defence estate currently accounts for approximately 1.8% of the UK’s land mass, with over 40% of the estate being over 50 years old. Managing an ageing estate of this size diminishes the MOD’s capability to support the future needs of the UK Armed Forces or, indeed, to represent the best value for the taxpayer. By creating a smaller more focused estate, investment can be directed to enduring sites to meet military requirements and increase prosperity for the surrounding communities. 

The £4 billion committed by the programme to developing the defence estate will create and sustain jobs in the construction industry, while the release of sites that the MOD no longer needs provides opportunities for a wide range of commercial uses, creating regeneration, business growth and local jobs. 

Ms Rock concluded: “The MOD estate is the same size and scale as it was after the Second World War. It’s just a fact that it is too large.    

“We have a commitment that we will reduce that estate by 30% over the next ten years and that is going to be very significant. It’s not all about disposals, it’s about obviously reinvesting that money to upgrade the estate and create innovation.  

“The opportunities for suppliers to get involved on the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme are vast. It touches construction, disposals, new builds, family accommodations – it touches everything.”  

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Transforming the MoD’s defence’s digital capability

The Ministry of Defence recently released its Digital and Information Technologies Strategy, which sets out its plan to effectively exploit information and systems vital to defence. We take a look at the strategy’s scope and implementation. 

The role of the Digital and Information Technologies (D&IT) function is to harness the potential of new technology and, in close partnership with colleagues across defence, to deliver capabilities and new ways of working that match the increasing speed at which the world is moving.  

With an estimated £37 billion to be spent over the next ten years, the opportunities provided by emerging digital technologies will continue to drive up demand. Making the most of these opportunities will require new levels of teamwork across the function and the whole of defence. It also drives the need for clear strategic intent, prioritisation and efficient use of resources. 

The Ministry of Defence’s D&IT strategy outlines how the function will exploit the benefits of emerging digital capability, how it will undertake that journey and how the function will work across defence to achieve these ambitions. 

The MOD has taken some big steps in recent years in successfully updating its outdated IT systems and introducing the industrystandard Office 365 suite. It now plans to continue these efforts to enable users to exploit new ICT services and tools as they are introduced. 

The strategy is based on three critical principles – to provide cohesion through consistent architecture, standards and management processes; integration by means of digital services and products that connect, integrate and share data by default; and speed and adaptability by meeting user needs quickly, improving services wherever possible. 

It is envisaged these principles will generate significant improvements in a number of key strategic areas. These include digitising the battlespace; responsive cyber defence; promoting information-led wider business transformation; and improvements in efficiency and cohesion. 

Responsible for ensuring the strategy’s implementation is Charles Forte, Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the MOD. As Function Owner he will direct future D&IT design, investment and operation across the Department. 

He explained“Defence has an ambition to put modern digital capability at the heart of how it operates to create winning advantage. This is driven by an underpinning premise that emerging digital technologies together with the effective capture, analysis and use of information will enable transformative military and business performance.” 

The strategy explains that the need to keep pace with adversaries who are rapidly expanding their information capabilities is critical; and that if the UK is to sustain a competitive response, it will have to accelerate its ability to access and deploy game-changing technologies. 

It highlights four challenges to be overcome to meet this requirement: 

  • There is a clear requirement for data to be easy to access, exploit and defend through the implementation of a common technical architecture and IT operation standards. 
  • Expectations should be met in terms of providing a defence-wide IT operating environment supporting simple, standardised processes to service defence needs, at a satisfactory speed. 
  • As with most government departments, there is an expectation that expenditure will be minimised where possible.   
  • There is also a need to work as an aligned function to a common strategy, allowing users to experience the speed and agility of service that they need and to benefit from the latest cuttingedge technologies. 

While measures are already being taken to address these challenges, the MOD recognises there is a need for a step change and views the strategy as an essential step in meeting these challenges. 

Mr Forte continued“This strategy outlines our approach to ensure that we can realise this ambition and fully exploit the opportunities afforded by the transformative nature of emerging digital capability. 

“To do this requires a bold mindset that challenges the way we operate and recognises that success requires fundamental change and will not be achieved by just doing the same things better. Meeting the needs of defence in the future hyper-connected digital society will require a cohesive and joined-up function; the efficiencies and effectiveness we seek lie in building digital and information capability that integrates across existing internal and external boundaries in defence. 

“By creating new levels of teamwork, we can create value-based outcomes that achieve better performance and competitive advantage over our adversaries for each individual part of defence.” 

The strategy will be followed by the D&IT function plan, which will set out in more detail the KPIs and measures of success for meeting these objectives. 

Not all these will be directly measurable, as the effect of this strategy will reach across every part of the Department in the capability, effectiveness and efficiency of UK military and business operations as measured in the outcomes of the TLBs. 

Mr Forte added“This is truly an exciting time to be part of the D&IT function inside MOD. Breathtaking technology is being developed at an unprecedented pace. Defence’s strategic intent to exploit it means the D&IT function plays a critical role in enabling its adoption and use.  

“I am proud to be part of it, and I look forward to helping grow the already impressive contribution D&IT has made to UK defence and to working with colleagues inside the function and across defence to achieve our vision.” 

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