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FCW : November and December 2015
Michael Wheeless The Navy is wrestling with the challenge of securely outfitting its ships with modern IT, and the ser- vice has found an ally in Michael Wheeless. The principal systems engineer at mobile communica- tions firm Oceus Networks has managed to engineer a low-latency, high-bandwidth 4G LTE communi- cations system for a Navy ship. The project, which Wheeless said combined different technolo- gies that “ride a single backbone,” demonstrated that commercial smartphones and tablets could work securely at sea. That is no small thing, considering that Navy officials are concerned about the vulnerabilities inherent in having sailors connect to devices while at sea. But security and ease of access were compatible in this case, and the network connected to a satel- lite, which “allowed the ship’s crew to access whatever sites they needed to,” Wheeless said. He added that many of the project’s challenges involved link- ing with networks ashore. “Some of the hiccups that we ran into were just coordinating with the dry side,” he said. That included connecting with the networks of the Defense Information Systems Agency, which is in charge of the Pentagon’s IT infrastructure. The project complied with all the Navy’s security specifications and also took advantage of the National Security Agency’s Commercial Solutions for Classified Program, Wheeless said. His work earned him special recognition by the Navy’s 7th Fleet commander. Given the service’s demand for secure mobile technol- ogy, Wheeless might just be get- ting started. — Sean Lyngaas Andrew Yuen Andrew Yuen got his start in govern- ment in 2007 while still an under- graduate, and he has applied his Without Katherine Mullins, the Department of Homeland Security’s network for sharing sensitive but unclassified infor- mation would not run nearly as smoothly. The Homeland Security Infor- mation Network is the commu- nications backbone for 40,000 current and prospective users, including employ- ees of federal, state, local and private- sector entities. The network allows users to communi- cate securely dur- ing an emergency, make security plans for big public events and tap geospatial tools to track resources and intelligence. Colleagues say Mullins is changing the way HSIN users are trained, and she has ushered in a new learning management system to track the effort. Mullins, director of HSIN mis- sion integration and outreach, started as a contractor and now manages engagement with all the network’s users. That work involved migrating terabytes of data and tens of thousands of users to a new platform. She has also gone to bat for the network, pitching it to state agencies by drawing on her experience at the Mississippi Department of Public Safety’s Office of Home- land Security. “I grew up with law enforce- ment and first worked as an analyst with a fusion center,” Mullins said, “which is where I was introduced to this ever-evolving world of information sharing in the post-9/11 environ- ment.” She built a commu- nications strategy for HSIN from scratch and has brought together dis- parate user groups into integrated teams. She has also transformed the way network users’ stories are collected and displayed. The importance of her job means Mullins keeps high-level company. She has briefed top leaders at DHS, including the undersecretary for intelligence and analysis. The network itself might be composed of machines, but Mul- lins is proof that managing HSIN takes a human touch. — Sean Lyngaas Katherine Mullins November/December 2015 FCW.COM 29 1215fcw_020-030.indd 29 11/16/15 2:58 PM