Last year was an exciting year in technology and government cybersecurity and this year promises to continue that trend. From the perspective of government contracting, there were many new opportunities through the last year and 2018 will bring even more thanks to the implementation of recent legislation and the growing need for IT security contractors. The rise of ransomware and other criminal technologies, as well as the growing prevalence of IoT and the cloud will also open new doors in the field. What else lies ahead?
Blockchain is the Future
This technology first arose as a secure method for Bitcoin transactions and has since become a strong contender for a new way to perform secure transactions, with other applications of the technology waiting in the wings. The recent National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 set forth policies for the Department of Defense (DOD), including a study with the purpose of briefing Congress on the cyber applications of blockchain technology.
The bill expressly states that this will include, “a description of potential offensive and defensive cyber applications of blockchain technology and other distributed database technologies,” in addition to information how it might be used not only by our own government, but other entities. Should the U.S. government implement this technology, there will likely be a need for defense contractors to help with the implementation throughout various areas of the public sector.
The Treasury Department and the GSA have both expressed interest in utilizing blockchain technology as well. The director of contract operations for the GSA’s Schedule 70 IT program has reportedly been looking at using blockchain for tracking contracts in the GSA as well.
Government Cybersecurity Grows
Not only will blockchain technology create a need for more experienced IT contractors in the government sector, but there has been a rising need for other types of cybersecurity experts thanks to the rapid evolution of criminal technology techniques. Last year was marked by a number of different ransomware attacks on both the private and public sectors and there is no indication that the trend will slow. WannaCry, Petya, NotPetya… the list of variants goes on. This is in addition to the traditional worms, viruses, hacking, and other malicious attacks that must be defended against. For example, the Defense Department thwarts approximately 36 million attempts to breach email daily. As a result, experienced government contractors are in high demand right now as the U.S. government looks for ways to protect sensitive data and equipment from these sophisticated (and sometimes state-sponsored) attacks.
AI for Defense
As Artificial Intelligence has grown more mainstream, the government sector has begun to implement it in more ways than ever before. For example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been conducting experiments using deep learning through a program called Deep Purposeful Learning (Deep Purple). This program aims to, “advance the modeling of complex dynamic systems using new information-efficient approaches that make optimal use of data and known physics at multiple scales.” This technology could lead to entirely new approaches to large data sources and result in further defense programs as the technology improves and grows. With the need for rapidly changing cybersecurity and defense techniques, this is a timely program. As AI usage in the government sector grows, there will also be a need for government IT experts to manage and develop the technology.
Meltdown and Spectre
The widely publicized flaws in Apple and Intel chips produced over the last 15 years will have far-reaching consequences. Since these hardware vulnerabilities cannot be easily fixed through software patching, both the private and public sectors are scrambling for solutions that will not upend other systems. An attack on this hardware could have dire consequences since it could result in high level issues such as the breach of classified government information.
While Homeland Security continues to work on cataloging what must be addressed, the solution is still forthcoming. Whether it will be a massive hardware replacement or something else, there will be a need for the government and defense contractors who can help complete such an enormous task.