Robert Twitchell, a Department of Defense subject-matter expert on mobile phones and cyberwarfare, is the CEO of Dispersive Technologies.
He talked with FedTech Magazine managing editor David Stegon about the recent RSA Security Conference and the trends he is seeing in the federal cybersecurity and mobility spaces.
FEDTECH: What are Dispersive Virtualized Networks, and how can the government harness them?
TWITCHELL: Our software allows for session layer data to be split over any single or combination of available network connections to allow organizations to leverage their full infrastructure while providing new ways to protect their data. We’ve been certified by the Defense Intelligence Agency as a replacement for traditional VPN networks, and, when combined with BYOB [bring your own broadband], we can be a replacement for MPLS — really, any place where you want to improve network security, throughput and reliability of communications.
FEDTECH: You were recently at the RSA Security Conference. What conversations stood out to you?
TWITCHELL: The main theme I heard was that people are fed up with how we do cybersecurity. The reality is that it’s not working, and we need to do something different. The break-ins continue to happen; the hackers do what they want. Most IT organizations tend to be conservative and resist change, but it’s time for them to get more aggressive and use new technologies.
When everyone uses the same defense capabilities, there is a playbook for how to hack it. There needs to be more movement and change that can make it more difficult for hackers to break into a network. There was a session on privacy and a discussion about virtual thin clients that keep all your applications safe. It’s ideas like that people are looking for that can change the landscape.
FEDTECH: How do you see cybersecurity advancing going forward?
TWITCHELL: : One strategy that has been discussed is defense in motion, which is based off the military’s use of battlefield telecommunications. The military uses two types of radio frequency strategies: one is a direct-spread radio that spreads RF energy over a bandwidth, masking communications under RF (radio frequency) noise, while the other is frequency hop, where communication changes constantly from frequency to frequency. The military uses a combination of these two techniques to mask their communications.
Now think about this in the cyber realm. We can redirect portions of computer traffic through different networks and piece it together at the end, so anything that is intercepted only represents a partial picture. We can also send out traffic through different modes, like use both the cell signal and the Wi-Fi from a smartphone. I would expect to see this type of thinking to be used more in cyberdefenses in the coming years.