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Cybersecurity Alliance Aims at Network Protection

Thirteen leading technology companies including Microsoft announced on Thursday that they have joined with Lockheed Martin to form a new cybersecurity technology alliance.

The Cyber Security Alliance represents a significant commitment on the part of competing technology companies to work collaboratively on new ways to detect and protect against cyber threats and develop methods that could automatically repair network systems quickly after being attacked.

The participating companies are Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, HP, Intel, Juniper Networks, CA, APC by Schneider Electric, EMC Corp. and its RSA security division, McAfee, NetApp, Symantec and VMware.

The announcement of the alliance coincided with the opening of a new Lockheed Martin NexGen Cyber Innovation & Technology Center in Gaithersburg, Md. designed to test and develop cybersecurity solutions for commercial and government customers.

Art Coviello, EMC's executive vice president and president of RSA, spoke on behalf of the entire alliance at the NexGen center's dedication ceremony and highlighted the importance of combining the companies' strengths.

"Our adversaries operate in sophisticated criminal ecosystems that enable and enhance their attacks," Coviello said. To defend against such attacks, "we need to build effective security ecosystems based on collaboration, knowledge-sharing and industry best practices."

Robert Stevens, Lockheed Martin chairman, president and CEO, added, "One of the challenges in moving from being reactive to being predictive is the need to model real-world attacks and develop resilient cyber defenses to keep networks operating while they're under attack."

That and the ability to test solutions from end to end across a variety of hardware and software technologies are among the primary goals of the NexGen center. Nearly $10 million worth of software and equipment was contributed to the center by members of the Cyber Security Alliance, according to Charles Croom, vice president of Cyber Security Solutions for Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services.

Croom said the alliance, and in particular the ability of experts from the participating companies to work jointly on some of the harder problems organizations face, is one element that distinguishes the NexGen center from other testing facilities.

Analysts at the 25,000-square-foot design and collaboration center will be tasked with looking for malicious activity and data patterns. The facility will be able to tap into the defense center's data feeds or simulate government agency computing environments and test various approaches to mitigate cyberattacks, according to Richard Johnson, Lockheed Martin's chief technology officer. It can also be used to test ways to improve operating efficiencies, he said.

The center also features dedicated distributed cloud computing and virtualization capabilities. Those capabilities would permit an agency to simulate a network under attack and test various responses. For instance, analysts could replicate an operating network and freeze it on a second virtual location in order to study the nature of the attack, while still supporting the primary network.

"We face significant known and unknown threats to our critical infrastructure," Croom said. "We not only need solid defenses but also the right technologies to predict and prevent future threats."

About the Author

Wyatt Kash is the editor in chief of Government Computer News (GCN.com).

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