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DISA Director Highlights Need for Resilient Infrastructure

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2015 — The Defense Information Systems Agency is looking to build a more resilient infrastructure that helps resist cyberattacks, the agency's head told an industry briefing today.

Army Lt. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, director of DISA and commander, Joint Force Headquarters - Department of Defense Information Networks, outlined some of his priorities at DISA's 2015 Forecast to Industry event here.

Lynn said DISA's partnership with industry is key to mission success. "Without you, we cannot accomplish our mission - bottom line," he said.

DISA provides, operates, and assures command and control, information-sharing capabilities, and a globally accessible enterprise information infrastructure in direct support to joint warfighters, national-level leaders, and other mission and coalition partners across the full spectrum of operations.

Lynn was not in attendance, but spoke via a recorded video message.

Industry Partnerships Help Protect Networks

DISA would like to increase its partnership with private-sector companies that can innovate, Lynn said.

"We need that innovation to help us find and develop better commercial solutions for defending our infrastructure," he said. "We must partner together to help protect our nation's networks."

DISA, like other government agencies, is dealing with shrinking budgets, Lynn noted.

"We constantly work to be more efficient and seek ways to reduce our costs. We reduced our rates to our customers by over nine percent in the past year, and I expect to reduce another seven percent in the coming months," he said.

Focus on 'Variety and Velocity' of Attacks

In a media roundtable of senior DISA leaders, Jack Wilmer, infrastructure development executive, said the agency faces a variety of cyber challenges.

Cyber threats are increasing in frequency and come from a whole host of actors, from the individual all the way up to nation-states, he said.

"The main challenge that I would say we're focusing on is the variety and velocity of the attacks," he said.

The attacks have made it so DISA "can't just continue to keep bolting on a new cybersecurity tool to defend against whatever that latest and greatest threat is," Wilmer explained.

One way to stay ahead of the threats, he said, is to reassess investments and see how to optimize the technology and avoid redundancy.

For example, he said, DISA might have four separate tools that do different things, but there might be an overlap across those tools.

"Though you might have a specific point solution for four different problems, you may find that two of those tools could probably do the job of those four," Wilmer said.

 (Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)