Military Embedded Systems

Combating cybersecurity threats for the DoD


April 06, 2016

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Combating cybersecurity threats for the DoD

In a Q&A with Ed Hammersla, president Chief Strategy Officer of Forcepoint Federal, LLC, he talks about dealing with cyberthreats including DARPA?s Cyber Grand Challenge and how a holistic approach is required for the future of cybersecurity as well as the merger that formed the company and its acquisition of Stonesoft.

MIL-EMBEDDED: What types of cyberdefense problems do your solutions solve? Please share some examples of current military cyberdefense programs/applications Forcepoint is involved in.

HAMMERSLA: Our platform solutions allow organizations to reduce “dwell time,” a metric we believe to be among the most important indicator of the cyber health of an organization. Today our solutions are actively used on desktops and workspaces throughout our Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps on vehicles, planes, surface ships and submarines. Literally thousands of dedicated men and women depend upon our software to complete their missions, from sharing valuable Intel with our partners around the world to protecting against insider threats here at home. It is this deep interdependence between our people, our products and our customers that drives our passion for the work we do.

MIL-EMBEDDED: What are the most common cyberattacks U.S. military organizations face and how do you defeat or counter them?

HAMMERSLA: Cyberthreats come in an almost infinite number of forms, and we are at the forefront of fighting back with analytics, tools that aid automation, integration, and cutting edge research projects such as the DARPA CGC (Cyber Grand Challenge).

MIL-EMBEDDED: What cyberthreats keep you up at night? How can existing technology help prepare for such threats?

HAMMERSLA: We’re kept alert for the threats that we don’t yet know about, but we are working on new automated based systems that find and fix current systems based on predicted yet unknown (at the time) attacks as these can be deemed theoretically possible before the attacks ever manifest themselves.

MIL-EMBEDDED: Five years from now how will U.S. cyberdefense look? Is there a new tech or tactic being developed that is a game changer?

HAMMERSLA: It will begin to resemble a kind of virtual immune system more than anything else. Instantly created custom software “antibodies” that detect and attack a wide variety of agents to keep our systems safe and in operation, similar to how antibiotics today attack viruses in our bodies to protect against diseases.

MIL-EMBEDDED: It’s been a year since the merger; can you speak to the merger and what it has done for the company?

HAMMERSLA: The founding thesis of the joint venture has proven to be right on target. We have integrated what were several different companies into one organization, rebranded ourselves as Forcepoint, completed a strategically import acquisition, and built a company with a bold new vision for cyber.

Many have asked why we sound so confident in our future success and how Raytheon plays into that. We believe the Silicon Valley based business model, which has served us so well for decades, is not optimized to adequately address the cyber problem, as it was built to quickly reward a new fast growth technology play. The successful approach to meaningfully conquer the cyber challenge in the years ahead requires a more holistic approach comprised of complex and sophisticated integration, analytics, and invention. And it requires it to be done at scale in life and death environments. We believe our heritage of innovation and business growth combined with the formidable resources and expertise of Raytheon uniquely equips Forcepoint to succeed.

MIL-EMBEDDED: What are the advantages to the acquisition of Stonesoft?

HAMMERSLA: Stonesoft’s next gen firewall along with the Sidewinder technology that we acquired are, we believe, superior technologies and have consistently performed well in independent, third party assessments earning NSS Labs ‘Recommended’ rating four years running.

MIL-EMBEDDED: Why the name “Forcepoint”?

HAMMERSLA: We looked at scores of options and felt Forcepoint delivered a bold name and design to re-enforce our “Forward without Fear” approach, not attempting to scare but to build confidence in a future that, – while it will certainly involve challenges to cyber systems, – can be faced by making our organizations better prepared and increasingly resilient.

MIL-EMBEDDED: How are you keeping your current customers in the loop?

HAMMERSLA: We utilize a “surround sound” multi-media approach including, but not limited to, Twitter, Facebook, seminars, video diaries, conferences, multiple targeted advisory boards with industry leaders and our channel partners in conjunction with a broad array of face to face, personal and professional relationships with many of our customers directly via our 2500+ worldwide employee base.

Ed Hammersla serves as chief strategy officer for Forcepoint and president of the company’s Federal division. Previously, he served as president of Raytheon Cyber Products, a cybersecurity software company owned by Raytheon. Hammersla holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and Biblical archaeology from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. He resides in Washington, D.C.

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