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Front Lines Agency battles epic disasters in 2018 BORDER PATROL Immigration top priority

WOMEN IN CYBER Combating gender gap

COOL CAREERS Broad range of DHS jobs












TREASURE HUNTERS Program returns lost, stolen artifacts to rightful owners



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TEAM SPORT Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen strives to coach team through challenges



ABOVE AND BEYOND Department honors its homeland heroes

LEARNING CURVE FEMA continues to evolve, grow and adapt to demanding workload


FLYING HIGH TSA works to make air travel safer, easier for passengers to navigate

MANAGING CHANGE Coast Guard sets course amid dynamic geopolitical landscape

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SPECIAL AGENTS Secret Service safeguards lives, investigates financial crimes







AGENCY OVERVIEW The departments in charge of protecting the homeland


Keeping students safe is mission critical

Rescue 21 system serves as 911 for America’s waterways

Agency works with states to secure voting systems



CONTENTS This is a product of

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ISSUE EDITOR Debbie Williams EDITORS Amy Sinatra Ayres Tracy Scott Forson Sara Schwartz







ISSUE DESIGNER Lisa M. Zilka DESIGNERS Amira Martin Gina Toole Saunders



Next-gen programs strive to position women for success

Matt Alderton, Brian Barth, Mary Helen Berg, Rafael Carranza, Gina Harkins, Bart Jansen, Patricia Kime, Jamie L. LaReau, Rina Rapuano, Adam Stone, Suzanne Wright


Colleges, universities offer a variety of degrees tailored for agency positions

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A USA TODAY Network publication, Gannett Co. Inc

BUG HUNTERS Auto manufacturer hires hackers to ensure car computers are secure

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DREAM JOBS DHS careers span broad range of fields, offer diversity and fulfillment

For accuracy questions, call or send an e-mail to accuracy@usatoday.com.








A Team Sport Secretary Nielsen coaches department through challenging times By Bart Jansen



the sixth secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. She took the helm of a sprawling department with 229,000 workers and 22 components, including the Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency, just after three hurricanes had battered the country. And she had to cope with Hurricane Florence striking the Carolinas in September and Hurricane Michael — the third-most-powerful storm to ever hit the U.S. — in October. Border security has also dominated the 2018 agenda, as unprecedented numbers of migrants sought asylum. The Defense Department deployed 5,200 troops in October to support about 16,500 Customs and Border Protection officers along the southern border to deal with the expected influx. Nielsen had been chief of staff to her predecessor, John Kelly, before he became White House chief of staff for President Donald Trump. In that position, she advised Kelly on operational and policy matters including counterterrorism, cybersecurity and border security. She had created and managed the offices for legislative policy and government at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in 2004 for President George W. Bush. The Secret Service, another part of the department, was key to investigating more than a dozen bomblike devices mailed in October to former government officials and others including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. A suspect has been charged in Florida. And as the midterm elections approached, Nielsen focused on cybersecurity as a top priority to protect government and private technology. With all of these issues on her plate, Nielsen shared her leadership philosophy with USA TODAY:


How did your previous experience prepare you for this role? NIELSEN: Homeland security is a team sport. No one agency or partner has the ability to confront all the threats we face today, so we have to partner to protect our country. I have worked in homeland and national security for more than two decades and have had the privilege of playing many different positions on the team. Whether it was in the U.S. Senate, a federal department, the White House or the private sector, being in those roles has allowed me to see the whole field, which has made me a better “team captain” — or coach — in my current role. The threats we face, especially on the cyber battlefield, demand a multidisciplinary perspective


and engagement with a vast array of stakeholders. I’m fortunate that past experiences have prepared me for the challenge. What’s the best piece of advice you were given about the challenges of dealing with this job? There’s a phrase I heard for the first time when TSA was standing up: “Stop admiring the problem.” It has become something of a mantra for me. It’s easy in Washington to kick the can down the road — to ask for another study, a new review or mountains of analysis. But if you observe or admire a problem for too long, they fester and tend to get more complex and dangerous. Soon, you can find yourself in a sea of them. When problems crop up, you can either “take cover” or “take action,” and the





Nielsen spoke to the media near the first completed section of President Donald Trump’s 30-foot wall at the U.S.-Mexico border in Calexico, Calif., in October.

American people are expecting us to do the latter.

terrorists, hostile nation states and violence and hate in every form.

What has surprised you most about this position? Nothing fully prepares you for the responsibility of leading a quarter-million employees — and the families that stand behind them — as they execute the myriad of missions to secure the homeland. What has surprised me, though, is any time I encounter hostility towards DHS employees. These patriots wake up every day and protect the homeland and enforce the laws passed by Congress with honor, professionalism, integrity and compassion. My hope is that we can move towards focusing as a nation on a common cause and addressing common enemies such as transnational criminal organizations,

What’s your favorite part of the job; what do you look most forward to as part of your day? As secretary of Homeland Security, you always get asked, “What keeps you up at night?” But you rarely get asked, “What gets you up in the morning?” For me that answer is always: the people — and supporting and empowering them. We have an incredible workforce, and the more DHS has matured, the more it has become a family. It’s been the honor of my life to serve with them. They inspire and motivate me every day and in ways I never imagined. Whether it is a major threat or disaster or unfair criticism, I’ve been in awe at how the men and women of DHS keep their

heads held high and stay focused on the mission. They have my undying respect and admiration.

changes in the threat landscape and our mission space. The good news is that we are making really significant progress.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing DHS today? Simply put: Emerging threats are outpacing our defenses. The bad guys are finding new ways to undermine us faster than we are finding ways to stop them. This applies across the board — whether it’s the viral spread of do-it-yourself terrorism or the global “pandemic” of malware infecting our networks and devices. Our challenge is keeping up. I’m focused on building a department that is more agile, flexible and forward-leaning — that both leans in to address today’s threats and scans and prepares for those that are on the horizon. DHS must also have the authorities to rapidly adapt to

Ideally, what would you like your legacy at the department to be? No matter what threat we face and no matter how our enemies and adversaries try to undermine the United States, I want to make sure the department is relentlessly resilient and the men and women of DHS have the tools, training, resources and authorities they need to effectively secure the homeland. Given the vast diversity and quickly emerging nature of threats in the homeland today, I hope our legacy will be that we left America not only more capable of enduring crises, but better equipped to bounce back from them stronger than ever.




TRUMP CONSIDERING ‘EVERY OPTION’ TO STOP CARAVAN Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wouldn’t divulge potential plans by President Donald Trump to curb the processing of asylum claims at the southwestern U.S. border. But speaking to reporters Oct. 26 at the Calexico, Calif., border fence, Nielsen said the Trump administration is considering a range of options to discourage thousands of migrants trekking through Mexico in a caravan on their way to the U.S.Mexico border. “We are looking at every possible way within the legal construct that we have to make sure that those who do not have a legal right to come to this country, do not come in,” Nielsen said. “So everything is on the table.” Recent reports suggested Trump was planning to issue a proclamation imposing travel restrictions on migrants along the southern border, using the same rationale for his controversial travel ban of several Muslim-majority countries. The reports follow intense scrutiny of the latest U.S.-bound migrant caravan, which has grown to about 10,000 people, according to organizers in Mexico. The largest portion of the caravan is still weeks away from reaching the border, but about 350 members arrived by bus in the border city of Tijuana on Nov. 13. Trump threatened to send additional troops to the border in response. Nielsen confirmed department officials had submitted a request for support to the Department of Defense, although she said that she didn’t have information about the number of troops that would be authorized. Nielsen said the request is for “engineering support and logistical support,” but offered few other details, such as where along the border the troops would be deployed. As of early November, 2,100 National Guard troops were stationed along the Southwest borderlands. But they are in a secondary role, supporting U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, so have little to no interaction with asylum seekers.


Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen toured the U.S. border near El Paso, Texas, in May.

As the migrant caravan continued advancing through Mexico, the DHS secretary said they are continuing to work with the Mexican government to have some asylum claims processed there, instead of continuing up north. “In the days to come, we will be making announcements on additional measures that we are looking at within our legal construct to ensure that this is an orderly process and that those who have no right to be in our country are able to be apprehended quickly,” Nielsen said.

TRUMP’S WALL BEING BUILT? Nielsen’s visit to Calexico marked the end of construction for one of four replacement projects along the U.S.-Mexico border. Starting earlier this year, crews began to replace more than 2 miles of aging, landingmat steel barriers with 30-foot-tall

bollard fencing. But even though this project was identified as a priority and funded under the administration of former President Barack Obama, Trump has repeatedly taken credit for it, stating at numerous rallies and appearances that construction of his border wall was underway. As Nielsen arrived to the site of the newly completed fence, just west of the Calexico border crossing, two men welded a engraved plaque to one of the bollards. It read: “This plaque was installed on October 26, 2018, to commemorate the completion of the first section of President Trump’s border wall.” When asked whether the replacement fencing should be considered a wall, Nielsen said yes, adding that it should be thought of as part of a “wall system” that includes technology, roads and boots on the ground.

“Looking at this, I would not attempt to climb it. Our hope is that it does just that. It serves as that impedance to prevent a flow over,” she said. “It’s a wall. This is what the president has asked us to do. It’s part of the system.” Customs and Border Protection has three other ongoing projects to replace aging barriers with new 18-foot-tall bollards. Fourteen miles of fencing in San Diego, 20 miles in Santa Teresa, N.M., and 4 miles in El Paso are currently being replaced. Nielsen said that they would also begin work next year to replace 11 miles of aging fencing east of the port of Calexico with 30-foot-tall bollards. Earlier in October, DHS waived a series of environmental laws in order to begin construction of 16 miles of new roads and barriers in South Texas. — Rafael Carranza






Above and Beyond Department honors its homeland heroes



Security presents its Secretary Awards to honor the work, sacrifice and professional excellence of the department’s employees. This year’s awards ceremony took place Nov. 7 in Washington, D.C., and recognized 673 employees from multiple divisions. According to DHS, the awards acknowledge those who

“have performed above and beyond the call of duty, responding in extraordinary ways to the challenges of protecting the homeland. These individuals have displayed a special dedication to the mission of homeland security, setting a sterling example for all DHS employees who share their commitment to the department and to the American people.” Among this year’s recipients:


THE SECRETARY’S UNIT AWARD Clifton Skilbred, Marcos Esparza, Jorge Perez, Jesus Guajardo, Miguel Damian and Roberto Garcia (not pictured), CBP Grupo Conjunto de Inteligencia Fronteriza Team, U.S. Customs and Border Protection “In recognition of dedicated binational efforts focused on sharing information to identify Central American gang members attempting to make illegal entry into the United States.”








William Vogel, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Todd Porinsky, U.S. Secret Service

Julie Koller, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Christopher Shelton, Transportation Security Administration

“For vigilance and dedicated work in immigration legal matters, including Terrorist Watch List cases that will continue to advance key departmental priorities while preserving public trust in the works of DHS.”

“For implementing multiple initiatives to advance the DHS mission, including the third-party canine-cargo program and the creation and enhancement of multiple partnerships within the private canine industry.”



Kevin Boshears, Management Directorate

Amad Hankins and Shango Indomitus, U.S. Coast Guard Team EPIC

“For stable and unwavering leadership in guiding the work of thousands of personnel in federal response and recovery efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands after hurricanes Irene and Maria.”

“For coordination and execution, as part of Operation Caribbean Fury, of the indictment of multiple individuals from organized crime groups on charges of conspiracy, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft in the Ohio area.”



Brendan Kiley, U.S. Coast Guard

Grace Lee, Management Directorate

“For serving as a helicopter Rescue Swimmer during the historic flooding by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, an unfamiliar urban area, saving 112 lives and assisting countless other persons.”

“For managing a wide range of portfolios impacting DHS resources and policies, particularly oversight of the program and budget review process.”

“In recognition of outstanding leadership in developing, directing and achieving the most successful small-business inclusion program in the federal government.”

“For promoting diversity by developing the Enlisted Professionals in Connection Program (EPIC) and the Remote Mentorship Assistance Program to improve retention rates, recruitment and professional development for minorities in the Coast Guard’s enlisted workforce.”



DEPARTMENTS Linesmen restore power in the Florida Panhandle after Hurricane Michael struck Oct. 10 as a Category 4 storm.


By Brian Barth

Learning Curve In an era of unprecedented natural disasters, FEMA manages to do more with less


OR TOM FARGIONE, THE operations section

chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “IMAT-east,” the last two hurricane seasons have been tests of endurance. IMATs (incident management assistance teams) are FEMA’s first boots on the ground when disaster strikes, coordinating everything from boat rescues to patching communication systems. Once the situation stabilizes, IMATs hand the baton to other personnel who deal with long-term recovery. Then IMAT staff return home to recuperate and prepare for the next call to duty. That’s how it’s supposed to work.







IN PRAISE OF PRIVATE PARTNERS The role of the private sector in disaster response is often overlooked


FEMA Corps Team Gulf 4 members receive assignments Oct. 27 before heading out to help Hurricane Michael survivors register for assistance. The team also identified and addressed immediate and emerging needs and made referrals to other local, state and volunteer groups for additional support in sections of Florida affected by the storm.

But in 2017, Fargione oversaw responses to two hurricanes that made landfall within 10 days of each other — Irma and Maria, in Florida and Puerto Rico, respectively. 2018 was like déjà vu, as Hurricane Florence hit the North Carolina coast on Sept. 14, followed by Hurricane Michael’s pummeling of the Florida panhandle on Oct. 10. Fargione’s team went straight from one disaster scene to the next. “Michael was a very interesting hurricane,” said Fargione. Not only did it rapidly and unexpectedly intensify to a Category 4 storm, it sustained much of its intensity as far inland as the Georgia border. “After it made landfall, it acted like a massive sustained tornado — an 80-mile-wide, 200-mile-long high-range tornado.” While the public may have been caught off guard by Michael’s unexpected intensity — a fact that significantly hampered evacuation efforts — Fargione

said FEMA was not. “It’s not common, but we’ve seen this before when a storm quickly intensifies over warm currents. (Hurricane) Harvey was the same way. So we were well-positioned when it happened.” The agency has learned certain lessons the hard way, but has never underestimated the forces of nature. According to Fargione: “We live by the motto: plan for the worst, hope for the best.” Michael was different in another way, though. The death toll was surprisingly low, given that the hurricane was considered one of the strongest ever to hit the United States. (Thirty-nine deaths have been attributed to the storm). Fargione said the lower than expected number of fatalities is definitely the result of previous experiences. “Since Hurricane Andrew in the ’90s, the state has changed its policies in terms of building codes and other things of that nature, which has made a tremendous

difference. Florida is a reminder for the rest of the world about the importance of disaster mitigation. Because in our view, one fatality is one too many.”

UNPRECEDENTED CIRCUMSTANCES Each disaster offers opportunities for the agency to study how to be better prepared for the next one. But 2017, with three consecutive hurricanes of epic proportions, and the worst fire season on record unfolding simultaneously in California (the 2018 fire season appears poised to break that record), was perhaps FEMA’s biggest learning opportunity to date. Beyond those headline-inducing catastrophes, Daniel Kaniewski, FEMA’s deputy administrator for resilience, pointed out another statistic: When Harvey dropped its rain bomb on Texas CONTINUED

FEMA is like a quarterback, said Daniel Kaniewski, the agency’s deputy administrator for resilience. After a disaster, they’re calling the plays, but there’s a slew of other characters who run them, including state and local governments, nongovernmental organizations and private companies. The latter are often signed on with a “pre-event” contract, whether to deliver food and water, provide generators and tarps or rebuild homes, allowing the agency to call on them at a moment’s notice. “We at FEMA feel that it is very important to have those contracts in place ahead of time,” said Kaniewski. “It is essential for our logistics capacity. Otherwise, we could not deliver resources efficiently to where they are needed.” Examples of companies under contract to deliver goods and services under FEMA’s guidance include: Fluor: This global project management firm has supported FEMA for more than 20 years, including with debris removal following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the installation of temporary housing units following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. American Medical Response: The nation’s leading ambulance service has contracted with FEMA since 1992, providing emergency medical support following catastrophes such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when the company treated nearly 50,000 people. GA Foods: In the disaster relief business for more than 40 years, this company provides shelfstable meal kits by the tractortrailer load at a moment’s notice from its warehouses throughout the country.







FEMA administrator Daniel Kaniewski, second from left, toured Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. He said the agency has streamlined the postdisaster inspection process.

“We will go back over this year in great detail in terms of what went well and what didn’t. The agency considers itself a learning organism.” — DANIEL KANIEWSKI, FEMA deputy administrator for resilience

last year, FEMA was already managing 32 major disaster declarations across the country, most of them flood-related. This is a big part of why 2017 was truly unprecedented, he said, noting that 31,000 staff members had been deployed by the end of the hurricane season that year, including large numbers pulled from other federal agencies. It was the first time in history that FEMA was forced to make use of its full “surge capacity” workforce. “We had TSA screeners, the people you normally see at the airport, who were instead knocking on people’s doors informing them of the FEMA disaster assistance available to them.” As FEMA Administrator Brock Long

put it, the agency was “tapped out.” The public did not hold back in criticizing both FEMA and the White House for perceived shortcomings, mainly regarding Puerto Rico, where the recovery from Maria (and Irma, which tore through the Caribbean on its way to Florida) has been painfully slow. In FEMA’s 2017 Hurricane Season After-Action Report, the agency accepted some of the blame. The report noted, for example, that FEMA underestimated the challenges of repairing poorly maintained infrastructure in Puerto Rico, and the agency did not have an adequate plan for dealing with back-to-back hurricanes in the same Caribbean region.

“We’ve clearly learned a lot,” said Kaniewski. “And now we are implementing those lessons.”

A NEW PLAN In March 2018, FEMA released its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, which summarized much of the information gained in the previous year. The plan identifies three priorities: building a culture of preparedness, readying the nation for catastrophic disasters and reducing the complexity of the agency. Kaniewski said new programs are already being implemented to advance each one. CONTI NUED








Spc. Gloria Macias, right, with the California Army National Guard, provides Spanish translation services for a FEMA representative and fire victim applying for federal disaster assistance Oct. 17 at a temporary assistance center in Napa, Calif.

In the preparedness category, he pointed to the recently passed Disaster Recovery Reform Act, which creates a competitive grant program through which state and local governments can access funds for predisaster mitigation projects, such as storm-proofing critical infrastructure. Previously, mitigation funding was geared toward areas where disaster had already struck, with the idea of helping those communities rebuild stronger. “We thought we could do better,” said Kaniewski. “This will place a significant amount of money in the hands of state and local governments before a disaster strikes so that they can address risks that exist today, as opposed to waiting until after disaster strikes. We strongly believe that this is a game changer.” To improve the nation’s readiness for catastrophic disasters, the agency is rolling out FEMA integration teams, or FITs, which are being deployed to

disaster-prone states to provide any expertise needed to fill in gaps in local response capacity. Coincidentally, the first state to receive a FIT team when the program began this summer was North Carolina. “The team was in place for several months before Florence and really proved its worth,” said Kaniewski. Efforts to reduce bureaucratic complexity are critical at a time when demands on the agency are greater than ever, but without a corresponding increase in budget. Just prior to the 2018 hurricane season, FEMA’s budget was actually reduced, albeit by only $10 million, which amounts to less than 1 percent of the agency’s overall funding. Still, there is clearly an impetus to do more with less. In that regard, the agency is working to streamline the postdisaster inspections process, an idea that emerged spontaneously during Hurricane Harvey, said Kaniewski. In cases where

a property might qualify for multiple FEMA programs, agency staff were often conducting multiple inspections at the same place. “Our teams quickly realized that they were duplicating efforts, so they switched to making a single damage assessment that would apply across our various programs. This got the disaster survivor on the road to recovery more quickly, but it also reduced the cost associated with inspections, which is good for the American taxpayer.” After another epic year of natural disasters, there will undoubtedly be more to learn. Fargione said it’s still far too early to glean any lessons from Florence and Michael, but noted that the FEMA is “very happy with where we are in both situations.” Still, he added, “we will go back over this year in great detail in terms of what went well and what didn’t. The agency considers itself a learning organism.”

Introducing the presidential alert system Once upon a time, Americans got used to the occasional disruption of their favorite television shows: “This is a test of the emergency broadcast system,” a stern-sounding voice said, followed by a long tone. The system, designed to notify citizens of anything from a nuclear attack to severe weather, was established in 1963 under President John F. Kennedy. In 2018, it was updated for the digital age. On Oct. 3, Americans received what at first glance might have looked like a text from President Donald Trump: “Presidential alert” it read, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) System. No action is needed.” The test was originally planned for two weeks prior, but Hurricane Florence had just hit — FEMA, and the other government agencies responsible for the alert, thought it better to avoid doing anything that might cause unnecessary panic. This was the first nationwide test to wireless phones using the WEA system.







Flying High TSA working to make air travel safer, easier By Adam Stone


HE CHIEF OF THE Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has good news and bad news for air travelers. You’re still going to have to take off your shoes as part of the security check. Sorry. On the positive side, TSA is getting faster at moving people through the lines. During this year’s busy summer travel season, 97 percent of passengers spent less than 20 minutes waiting in standard security lanes, the agency reported. Technology promises to make things better still, with smoother processes for travelers and enhanced safety features. USA TODAY spoke with TSA Administrator David Pekoske, who just completed his first year on the job, to ask about these improvements and other agency updates. David Pekoske TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

What have you learned in your time at TSA? PEKOSKE: I have learned that TSA’s employees are incredibly committed to our mission in a much more personal way than I have seen in other organizations. One thing I have been working to change is our ability to respond quickly to evolving threats — with both technology and processes. Transforming the acquisitions process is a big piece of our ability to do that. TSA was born out of the ashes of 9/11 and was stood up with a very entrepreneurial culture. We’re focused on getting better security, faster.


How are you building up the workforce? Even with the amazing and dedicated people we have, we can’t hire our way to meeting the mission in a world where

aviation travel volume is growing so rapidly. What we’re doing is investing in our people, especially our frontline officers, and providing them the tools they need to grow in their TSA careers. We recently announced a new comprehensive career progression plan for our frontline employees to foster career growth. I believe that an effective workforce must be properly trained, coached and evaluated, and these are key in preserving a motivated and skilled workforce. Multiple reports indicate TSA screening is sometimes ineffective. How do you respond to that criticism? Through new processes and better technology, we continue to expand our security posture, setting the baseline for aviation security globally. In partnership with airports, airlines and interna-

tional partners, we have implemented enhanced security measures for both domestic and international flights. Testing revealed the need for better technology, processes and training. We are improving all three. Passengers will notice new X-ray screening machines and a change in process where we ask that items, such as foods and powders, be removed from carry-on bags. These procedures provide a clearer, uncluttered X-ray image. Does shoe and belt removal really help? Any plans to revise that policy? Most people don’t want to wait in line and take off their shoes and belts. As someone who travels quite a bit, I get that. We are always evaluating security risks, and we’ve determined that the risks are serious enough to warrant continuing this policy. Another benefit of

continuing this policy is that it reduces the potential for false alarms that can significantly slow down the screening process. You’ve looked at canines as a way to move people along. Any plans to expand this? Canine teams are an efficient and effective means of detecting explosive materials, and they provide a visible deterrent to terrorism. We are working to put even more canines in airports, so they’re patrolling a wider area of an airport in addition to working at checkpoints. We expect to train 350 canines this fiscal year, which will increase the number of working canines to well over 1,000. Having canines working throughout a CONTI NUED






THE LIGHTER SIDE OF TSA The Transportation Security Administration has gained accolades for its often humorous Instagram feed. “The rationale behind our social media strategy is simple — to engage the public in security,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “What better way to engage people in our serious mission than to make them laugh?” More than just a hearty chuckle, travelers also get practical tips and helpful info. “We’re showing our nearly 1 million followers all of the things they don’t see when they’re traveling through our checkpoints,” Pekoske said. “If we can make people laugh and appreciate the importance of security — that is a big win for everyone.” A few fan favorites include:


Pekoske and a TSA officer analyze luggage readings at Dulles International Airport.

terminal can help us address additional risk locations in an airport, including the public side of airports. That’s the bigger picture — ensuring a high level of security everywhere in an airport environment. What are some of the most promising technologies in the works? We have been rolling out many new and exciting technologies to the front line, like the automated screening lanes, computed tomography machines, and a host of other biometric and identity technology to improve security, simplify the passenger experience and strengthen the identification process. Computed tomography utilizes 3D-imaging and detection software to help TSA officers automatically identify threats, which may eliminate the need for passengers to remove electronics and liquids for carry-on passenger baggage screening. We also continue to deploy credential authentication technology to airports, which allows us to validate the security features of a passenger’s photo ID and match the information from the ID against our Secure Flight vetting system. These systems both provide better accuracy, while improving the passenger experience. What is TSA looking to do with biometrics? We’ve tested biometrics for TSA Precheck travelers. In June 2017, we tested fingerprint technology at a TSA

Precheck lane at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and at Denver International Airport. We are expanding the use of biometrics technology as part of our continued effort to improve security and the traveler experience. And we will soon be rolling out a biometrics road map that details exactly what we are doing. The road map will guide the agency’s biometric efforts to modernize aviation passenger identity verification in the coming years. (Biometrics) will improve security by allowing TSA to focus more on travelers who are unknown and pose a greater threat. Any other big plans for the coming year? By the end of fiscal year 2019, we plan to have in place approximately 200 (computed tomography X-ray) units at U.S. airports. Our plan is to integrate computed tomography with automated screening lanes. By connecting these systems, passengers will experience better security faster. Outside the checkpoint, TSA is assessing ways to use innovative technology to improve airport perimeter security. Over the next couple of months into 2019, TSA will pilot perimeter intrusion detection and deterrence technologies at two airports: Mineta San Jose International Airport and Miami International Airport. Bottom line, we are looking forward to exploring, testing and deploying the latest security technology at airports.







TSA SHOWS OFF NEW 3D SCREENING MACHINE The Transportation Security Administration chose Washington Dulles International Airport as one of the first 15 airports to test 3D scanners at checkpoints this summer, and hopes to test 40 nationwide by the end of the year. Travelers who’ve had to unpack carry-on luggage to grant screeners a closer look may appreciate that the new technology allows those officers to examine contents by rotating the color image digitally, leaving clothes and valuables tucked away. “We believe this is a step into the future,” Michael Stewart, the airport manager at Dulles, said of the computed tomography (CT) machines that shoot hundreds of images with an X-ray camera to provide a 3D picture, effectively unpacking luggage digitally. Scott Johnson, TSA’s regional director at Dulles, said the 3D machine, located in the east end of the building, would improve security while processing travelers faster with bins that are 25 percent larger than regular checkpoint bins. “There are emerging threats around the world, and we want to make sure we stay one step ahead of them,” Johnson said. TSA Administrator David Pekoske told USA TODAY that the goal is to replace all 2,000 X-ray machines at checkpoints nationwide with the CT machines. “I think it’s the largest acquisition we will ever do,” Pekoske said. The machines won’t fit in every airport because they are heavier than current X-ray machines and because some models require more power. As airports that can’t accept them now are rebuilt, TSA will help design them for CT scanners, Pekoske said. Testing the machines at airports began in June 2017 in Phoenix and Boston. Bill Frain, a senior vice president for L3 Technologies, which built the machine being tested at Dulles, said it not only eliminates having to unpack bags for officers, but it also is faster and more precise. The


A traveler walks through a metal detector at Washington Dulles International Airport in August after placing his bags through a 3D scanner. The computed tomography machines are being tested at 15 airports nationwide.

machines collect 1,000 images of each bag, compared with four with the standard X-ray, he said. “It’s a significant increase in technology,” Frain said. “The passenger experience is going to be much better.” In addition to Dulles, other airports testing the machines this year are Baltimore-Washington International, Chicago O’Hare, Cincinnati, Houston Hobby, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Diego and St. Louis. “Our priority in terms of placing the machines initially is going to be at airports that receive flights from international locations directly,” Pekoske said.

If testing goes well this year, TSA plans to buy 200 more machines next year, Pekoske said. The machines now cost about $400,000 each, but Pekoske said the price could come down with the increased orders. Five manufacturers are competing to provide the machines, but Pekoske said it’s not clear yet whether they will all complete the testing phase. “I don’t know, as we go through this testing ... how many of those vendors will still be in the competition for contract award for those vendors,” Pekoske said. “My goal is to work as quickly as we can and as responsibly as we can to get them out there.”

In 2017, TSA began asking that travelers remove more items from carry-on bags to reduce clutter in the X-ray images. This year, the request extended to occasionally removing snacks from bags — not because the food was suspicious but to reduce the clutter. Eventually, the machines can be programmed to spot questionable items or detect them through chemical composition. The goal is to improve the precision of the screening while moving travelers more briskly through checkpoint lines. “What that means is they can unpack with the technology,” Pekoske said. — Bart Jansen








Managing Change Coast Guard sets course amid dynamic geopolitical climate By Patricia Kime


DM. KARL SCHULTZ BECAME the Coast Guard’s 26th com-

mandant on June 1, fresh off an assignment as Atlantic Area commander where he became a familiar face to many, including President Donald Trump, Congress and the media, during the service’s response to an unprecedented string of four major hurricanes. But the road to becoming the service’s top officer didn’t hinge on a few violent storms. In his 35-year career, Schultz held numerous operational and staff positions that provided opportunities to learn from and lead members of the nation’s smallest military service. Schultz spoke with USA TODAY in October about his goals for the service over the next four years. You’ve been in office for four months. What is your impression of the state of the Coast Guard? SCHULTZ: You saw the Coast Guard (in action) in the first significant storm of 2018 in the U.S. affecting the Carolinas. I’m proud of the work the men and women did down there. Everyone was focused on (Hurricane Florence) being a Category 4 or 5 storm, a high wind event ... but Harvey was a stark reminder to not get caught up on just the wind, since really the water events — in Harvey, 52 inches of rain in Houston, along the southeastern coast of North Carolina into the northeastern coast of South Carolina — are devastating. We came off a banner budget year in the 2018 omnibus (funding bill), $2.7 billion in our capital budget — we’ve never been close


Adm. Karl Schultz U.S. COAST GUARD

to that. That bought two additional national security cutters; it maintained momentum on the offshore patrol cutter (program). ... Our fast response cutter program is cooking along, there were monies to advance what we’re calling the waterways commerce cutters, the cat and dog inventory of 70-plusyear-old ships that operate on the country’s waterways, inland rivers, coastal areas. Then there’s the polar security cutter. We got money in the ’18 budget, $150 million. Then the ’19 budget proposed $750 million for our first polar security heavy icebreaker. We’ve never been in a situation where we have five surface recapitalization projects going simultaneously, and we are making progress with each, so I’m excited about that. We’re (also) tapping into the best talent America has, pushing CONTI NUED





A U.S. Coast Guard boat cruises through New York Harbor in August after Liberty Island was evacuated due to a construction mishap that caused a small fire.

3,800 (recruits) a year through Cape May (Training Center), our enlisted program. We have 1,100 cadets at the Coast Guard Academy; that’s about 50 percent of our officer throughput. We’re just drawing on some of the nation’s best. What are your top priorities? I’m really focused on three: The No. 1 priority is readiness. Addressing the nation’s new complex maritime challenges — national security, economic prosperity, global influence are all tied to the maritime — that’s the second one. And the third pillar is delivering operational mission excellence anytime, anywhere. I want to provide the secretary, the combatant commanders, the nation, a ready Coast Guard that you can put to any tough maritime problem and get it done.

The Coast Guard has clamored for new icebreakers since before the Polar Sea became a parts donor to its sister vessel, Polar Star, in 2010. You announced a name change to the icebreaker accession program a few months ago. Can you explain the Polar Security Cutter description and the country’s needs for such ships? Clearly there’s demand for recapitalization of our heavy icebreakers. Polar Star is the sole heavy icebreaker and it’s more than 40 years old. I don’t use this phrase carelessly: It’s on life support. We’ll (make it work) but it comes at significant cost and impact on the crew, which is typically gone from home 250 days a year on average. (Secretary of Defense James Mattis) was in the Arctic a couple months ago, and he talked about how the nation needs to be more focused and do more in the Arctic, and the Coast Guard is the right vehicle for that. In the Arctic,

we must cooperate where we can and volume of recruits through in years, and compete vigorously where we must. we’re meeting our targets. The question Right now, in the Arctic, it’s all about about diversity — I’m all about advancing projecting sovereignty in that area. a Coast Guard that is representative of ... China has been up there with an the nation we serve. Right now, we’ve icebreaker for nine successive years, got some pockets of excellence and some operating off the Alaskan Arctic. opportunities. Our enlisted workforce is They’ve declared about 14.5 percent themselves a near female; we’d like Arctic nation, and to see those numthey’re not one bers grow. In our of the eight. But officer workforce, China’s clearly females make up interested because about 20 percent. of the energy At the Coast resources, a third Guard Academy, of the world’s 40 percent of natural gas, 18 the Cadet Corps percent of the there are female. world’s untapped Women (there) are petroleum, a seeing themselves trillion dollars PETTY OFFICER 1ST CLASS PATRICK KELLEY/U.S. COAST GUARD in numbers and (worth) of minerSchultz briefs President Donald Trump last strength as part als. Russia has August on the Hurricane Harvey response. of the Corps and increased focus then they’re doing on the Arctic, you know, re-establishing great things, both at the academy and in bases in the Russian Arctic. the Coast Guard. There’s more water in the Arctic than My predecessor commissioned a there used to be ... so there are more woman’s retention study, and we’re missions. There are cruise ships up eagerly awaiting results from that ... (and there; there are stretches where they are once we receive the results), we’re ready dredging for gold in the ocean bottom. So to launch an underrepresented minority there’s increasing work. study. We have a personnel readiness task force that’s going to help us focus on How confident are you that funding diversity among other things. I’m looking will be available for a new icebreaker, at (creating) a mission-ready total given the discussion of using the workforce, and we have to spend some funds for a border wall? money there. We are focusing on things The president’s (fiscal 2019) budget that will make a difference in the lives of included $750 million (for the iceour men and women. breaker). That remains in the president’s budget on the Hill. The Senate has done Anything else you’d like to add? their mark and (it) includes the $750 I haven’t talked about infrastructure, million for the first polar security cutter. but we’ve been kicking the can of shore The House went in a slightly different infrastructure for a good part of my entire direction — the conversation was career. We have a $1.7 billion backlog of about getting a $5 million figure in the shore construction. With a $12 billion homeland budget for the wall. There’s a organization, that’s a big backlog, and lot of ground yet to plow as those bills get we’re just taking small bites on it. We reconciled. I’m guardedly optimistic that got supplemental funds in ’18 for hurthere will be a robust discussion about ricanes, about $835 million, including the nation’s needs in the Arctic, and I $120 million to pay for (operations) and hope that translates to the Coast Guard about $450 million for facilities that were getting funded for the first polar security physically damaged by the storms. So, cutter. we got some money to take care of some facilities that were decrepit, like Station The Army just fell short of its recruitKey West, which was 65-plus years old. ment numbers. How’s the Coast Guard ... In Harvey, we operated out of a new doing and can you address ongoing sector that was rebuilt after (Hurricane) efforts to expand diversity within the Ike (which hit in 2008). We ran all the service? Texas operations from that new sector, We are meeting our numbers, bringing and it was impactful. ... It really was truly in about 3,700 to 3,800 recruits annually, game changing (when we have) resilient about 10 percent reserves and the rest facilities that allow us to stay in the active duty. We haven’t brought that game.





DEPARTMENTS U.S. Secret Service agents accompany Pope Francis during his 2015 visit to New York City.





Special Agents Secret Service safeguards lives, financial sectors By Patricia Kime


HE U.S. SECRET SERVICE has faced a crushing workload since before the 2016 election, and the security needs of President Donald Trump and his family continue to command the department’s full attention. But the agency’s mission isn’t solely to protect VIPs; it is also tasked with investigating financial crime, and with the rise in the number and organization of crypto criminals, that mission is exploding as well. USA TODAY spoke with Director Randolph “Tex” Alles to discuss how the staggering challenges are being addressed.


There were some concerns in early 2017 that the Secret Service didn’t have the money nor the manpower to support the president’s frequent travel. How is that going? ALLES: When I first got here, it was a struggle getting people to understand what (our) resourcing requirements are, but basically the secretaries (former Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and current DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen) requested to raise our budget amount fairly significantly. We were annually short about $473 million. The secretar(ies) have said, “Hey, I want you to raise their base budget line, which will cover (the demand) for us.” It will take a number of years to replace equipment that we haven’t kept up to speed because we didn’t have the money ... but we are making good progress.


(Also) the agency is growing to 9,500 people over the next seven years. We are currently at 7,250 and have hired more people in the past two years than ever before. But these agents don’t just do protection. The majority of your work is in criminal investigations. Is that task increasing? Typically, the split is 60 percent criminal investigations, 40 percent protection. There’s a huge amount of cyber financial crime occurring daily. I would say we are getting robbed blind, in many ways. It’s going to continue to be a growing problem, and if it gets serious enough, it can disrupt the financial system, so that’s a big motivation, and we plan to grow eventually to 5,000 special agents (trained to investigate these crimes) as well as partner with people in the field — mainly state and local investigators.

Can you give us some examples of your work? We investigate business email compromise ... when accounts get hacked and account managers get duped and send their payments to (the hackers). In one case, a hotel chain lost $9 million in three days. Another popular one is what’s called ATM jackpotting, where (criminals) actually load malware onto the central processor of an ATM, and it causes the machine to download all the cash, like a big jackpot. There’s skimming ... where they’ll load a skimmer on a credit card reader, and it takes all your information from the card. They’ll then run the info to a carding forum typically overseas, either in Eastern Europe or Russia, where they collect tens of thousands of cards, and then the criminals load the data onto gift cards or credit cards and use them. There’s a big issue in Eastern Europe where we don’t

have extradition treaties. They host these sites and consequently we can’t take them down. Is this happening in all 50 states? Yes — and it’s extensive. In the case of one company, they lost $100 million because someone got into their systems. (These criminals) are quite skillful, actually. I like to say that if they did legitimate work, they’d make a lot of money, but they don’t. What are your priorities for the department? The top priority for the Secret Service is leadership. Leadership is a key component, because without it, everything suffers: You don’t have good morale; you don’t have the resources you need; things don’t run well. So we’re getting CONTI NUED





In addition to protecting the U.S. president, vice president, speaker of the House of Representatives and others in the presidential line of succession, Secret Service agents provide added security at national events and for visiting dignitaries. They train for a variety of scenarios in diverse environments, including this 2015 water rescue excercise.

better leadership training for our agents and officers. I want to have a culture of leadership in the organization much like you see in the military services. After that, (my priorities are) hiring, morale, technology and resources. How is morale? Where to start ... if you’re not familiar, the Secret Service was the lowest agency for (Federal Employment Viewpoint Survey) scores, but the scores went up a fair amount this year, so that’s good — a

positive sign. Attrition numbers have dropped. We dropped by 1 percent for special agents, from 7.2 percent to 6.2 percent. It’s still higher than I want it to be, but that’s good. In the uniform division, we went from 11 percent down to 8.6 percent, so again, attrition is down. That’s a positive sign. So I think morale is improving. It really revolves around a couple of issues. One is taking care of employees, including having enough employees. And the other part is making sure they get paid

for the work they’re doing. We’ve had a long-standing issue with hitting the overtime cap, and we’ve started asking for relief from that from Congress. (Our employees) aren’t necessarily hourly workers, but they get a salary that pays them for a certain amount of hours and when (they’re) exceeding them, (they’d) like to get paid. What was happening was that agents were reaching the overtime cap, and when they get there, the work doesn’t stop. So, we’ve gotten at least help to

solve this through the (end of the) year. What else do you want people to know about the agency? The big thing I would like to emphasize is the sacrifice of our employees. It’s an inconvenient place to work. There are a lot of things that occur on the spur of the moment that require them to leave home and travel. But the quality of our folks is very, very high, and they’re dedicated to their mission. They do the job no matter what, and they get it done.






Management Directorate: Handles budget matters, human resources, accounting, information technology and procurement.

Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office: Thwarts terrorist attempts to mount attacks on the U.S. using weapons of mass destruction.

Science and Technology Directorate: Researches, develops and provides products and technology solutions that help strengthen DHS security capabilities.

National Protection and Programs Directorate: Leads efforts to protect physical and cyber infrastructure; protects federal buildings; provides technology to collect, store and analyze biometric data.

Office of Operations Coordination: Oversees the National Operations Center, which collects and distributes information from federal, state, local, private sector and other agencies to thwart threats.

Secret Service: Safeguards the nation’s financial infrastructure and payment systems; protects national and world leaders; guards national sites and provides security at national events.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Provides security at borders with a priority mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S.; secures and facilitates trade and travel while enforcing regulations, including immigration and drug laws.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Handles applications for U.S. citizenship, green cards and work visas for foreign nationals; runs E-Verify program that allows employers to check employees’ citizenship status.

Federal Emergency Management Agency: Supports state and local agencies that respond to disasters; provides financial aid to residents who have lost housing or property in a federally declared disaster.

SOURCE: Department of Homeland Security

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center: The nation’s largest provider of law enforcement training, including firearms, driving, tactics, investigations and legal instruction.

DHS at a Glance The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has the multifaceted responsibility of keeping the nation safe from dangers, both inside our borders and abroad. Here’s a look at the operational and support components that power the agency’s mission:

Transportation Security Administration: Protects the nation’s transportation systems by screening luggage, passengers and cargo, primarily at airports.

Coast Guard: The only military organization within DHS; defends and protects maritime borders and saves those in peril.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Created from the investigative and enforcement arms of the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service; enforces border control, customs, immigration and trade laws.

Office of Intelligence and Analysis: Part of the national intelligence community — distributes information and intelligence to state, local and tribal officials; works with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.








Rethinking School Safety Shootings put agency on offense By Gina Harkins



jory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., Department of Homeland Security advisers had held more than 700 meetings with administrators around the country to improve emergency-operations planning. That was in addition to a series of high-profile, multiagency meetings hosted by the new Federal Commission on School Safety. Information gained during those “listening sessions” will inform a report on the matter, which is expected to be delivered to President Donald Trump later this year, said Todd

Klessman, senior counselor to the undersecretary for DHS’ National Protection and Programs Directorate. “That report will contain meaningful and actionable recommendations to keep students safe at school,” Klessman said. There’s no doubt that the Parkland tragedy — one of about 250 primary or secondary school shootings since Columbine in 1999 — altered the national conversation. Few could ignore the outspoken protests of students who survived the attack, their actions prompting reforms in their state legislature and even how federal agencies such as DHS are connecting with state and local leaders to keep kids safe.

Here’s what DHS is getting right and what still needs some work, according to school-safety experts, as officials work to better protect students across the country:

TAKING THE BEST APPROACH This summer, DHS updated its 28page guide on school security. That was an important step, Klessman said, because it allows schools to assess their existing security protocols without relying on external assistance. It also contains new strategies based on lessons learned during the last five years, he said. DHS officials routinely share the guide with state department of education officials and at meetings with educators, and it’s available for

download at dhs.gov/school-safety-andsecurity. While useful, some school-safety experts caution the department not to automatically apply policies that work in other settings to schools. For example, the “run-hide-fight” strategy for responding to active shooters, which DHS endorses, probably isn’t the right fit for an elementary school environment. “We’re not going to teach 8-year-olds to fight an active shooter,” said Jon Akers, a former principal and executive director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety, a state agency that conducts safety assessments and coordinates statewide initiatives. Michael Dorn, a former police chief and executive director at Safe Havens In-





Education 20.8% (52)

Commerce Open space

42% (105)

14% (35)


Students are escorted out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, after a former student fatally shot 17 people and injured multiple others. Government 10% (25)

Other locations .4% (1)

Health care facilities 4% (10)

House of worship 4% (10)

Residences 4.8% (12)


Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions participate in a meeting of the Federal Commission on School Safety in August.

ternational, which offers safety training and assessments to schools worldwide, agrees. Far too often, he sees those familiar with the strategy immediately jump to the fight stage during training scenarios. “Put bluntly, the people who’ve been trained in the run-hide-fight method score worse than those with no training at all,” Dorn said. If done hastily, people can escalate a situation that might not have risen to a full emergency, he added. Akers and Dorn would like to see DHS come up with a more appropriate strategy for the K-12 crowd. “That’s something that wouldn’t require a multiyear study and could be corrected without spending millions of dollars,” Dorn said.

THE VALUE OF PARTNERSHIP For Akers, getting the chance to address those concerns with local DHS field offices or during nationwide listening tours is invaluable. When he explained why the run-hide-fight strategy doesn’t apply well to small children, he said local DHS officials took notice and adjusted training in his state. Dorn, who said he participated in a Department of Education-led initiative in the early 2000s not unlike today’s federal commission, agreed. Anytime federal leaders can hear feedback from educators and subject-matter experts, he said it results in better policies. “I’m very hopeful about this federal commission because the last effort that was done was such high-quality,” he said.

*250 TOTAL INCIDENTS SOURCE: Federal Bureau of Investigation

BETTER TRAINING AND TOOLS DHS continues to look for ways to expand training and grant programs to the K-12 community, Klessman said. One effort was a two-day National School Security Roundtable in August to learn how the department could better support educators, law enforcement agencies and local government. As a result, DHS created new exercise starter kits tailored specifically for the K-12 community, he said. That not only includes activeshooter responses, he said, but also cyber breaches or hurricanes. That’s vital in improving overall school safety, Akers said. While shootings are horrific, they are also rare. School administrators must prepare for other events that might leave students in danger, in-

cluding natural disasters, chemical spills or human trafficking, he said. Another area Dorn and Akers said could improve safety is through more DHS-led initiatives focused on human behaviors. While DHS’ new edition of the K-12 School Security: A Guide for Preventing and Protecting Against Gun Violence does include a section on mental health and preventing violent outbursts, Dorn said more could be done in that arena. Attackers can get around secured entrances, metal detectors and expensive surveillance systems, he said. Leveraging federal-level research to help educators better spot and identify behavioral threats could be a more effective way to prevent violence.




Handle With Care Agency program works to return lost, stolen treasures to rightful owners

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations returned three recovered sculptures, valued at more than $1.5 million, to the government of India during a repatriation ceremony at the consulate in New York City. U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT




“We feel really strongly about the importance of bringing those items back to their rightful place and bringing them back to justice.” — MARK OLEXA, HSI special agent


Recovered artifacts include Egyptian relics from 8th century B.C. and an ancient cylinder seal taken from Iraq and seized in a shipment to craft retailer Hobby Lobby.

By Mary Helen Berg



ceramic and clay tile samples from Turkey and Israel, seemed ordinary enough. But inside, priceless cultural treasures looted from Iraq were being smuggled to Oklahoma, requisitioned by arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby. This high-profile case of alleged cultural property smuggling made headlines when U.S. Immigration and

Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents intercepted some of the parcels and foiled the company’s plan to purchase 5,500 clay artifacts dating to 2100 B.C. The items were returned to Iraq earlier this year, and Hobby Lobby paid a $3 million fine. The case was a “massive win” for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a unit within ICE, and its Cultural Properties, Art and Antiquities Investigations Program, said ICE spokesman Brendan Raedy. While HSI investigates the

illegal movement of people and goods, a portfolio that includes human trafficking and drug smuggling, the cultural properties division handles crimes that involve everything from dinosaur bones and ancient relics plundered from archaeological digs to modern art stolen off museum walls.

PROTECT AND PRESERVE The program’s mission is threefold: to train law enforcement officials to investigate, protect and preserve cultural

heritage and property; to coordinate and assist investigations that involve illicit trafficking of cultural properties around the world; and to facilitate the return of those items, ICE officials said. “These art and artifacts really are an important part of the cultural heritage of those countries, so we believe they belong in their original state, whether it be a museum or a collection,” said HSI special agent Mark Olexa, an eight-year veteran CONTI NUED




Special agent Mark Olexa, second from right, was part of the team that returned a letter, written by Christopher Columbus, to Italian officials.

Investigations have led to the seizure of several looted Peruvian artifacts. U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT

of the cultural property investigation team. “We feel really strongly about the importance of bringing those items back to their rightful place and bringing them back to justice.” ICE agents can encounter stolen cultural property at any time, and they must be prepared to question an object’s legality, authenticity, monetary value and potential historical or cultural significance, said Mary Cook, senior program manager for the Cultural Property, Art and Antiquities Program in the HSI Office of International Relations.

“If you’ve got a kilo of coke that comes into the country, it’s pretty easy to identify,” Cook said. “You send it to the lab. You know it’s not supposed to come into the country. If you come across something that’s old, you may have a question on, ‘Is it an antiquity? Is it allowed to come into the country? What are the laws that may apply?’ ”

TRAINING WITH EXPERTS To help answer some of these questions, 400 ICE agents, along with other U.S. and international law enforcement

officials, have studied at the Smithsonian Institution to gain a better understanding of cultural property. The weeklong training highlights the historical and cultural significance of these objects and teaches agents that they “are becoming the caretakers when these objects are in their possession. So, they are learning how to think about these objects differently,” said Dawn Rogala, a conservator and program manager for the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Conservation Institute. Participants hear lectures, tour

Smithsonian collections and conservation facilities, and attend workshops where they practice how to accurately document and safely handle rare objects. They also learn to find and collaborate with appropriate specialists, including the 15th-century printing expert who helped special agent Olexa clinch a seven-year investigation by proving that a 500-year-old copy of a letter by Christopher Columbus had been stolen and altered for sale. CONTI NUED






HISTORICAL RECOVERIES The Cultural Property, Art and Antiquities Program handles hundreds of active cases at any given time. Here are few of the team’s success stories:

uIn 2010, roughly 100 fossils, 525 million years old, were discovered by a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agent at a Chicago airport mail center and eventually returned to the People’s Republic of China. That same year, an Egyptian sarcophagus encountered by a CBP agent in Miami was returned to Egypt. uIn 2012, an 18th-century painting that was stolen from a church in Poland was posted on eBay with a “buy-it-now” price of $35,750. Undercover Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents exposed the crime, and the work was returned to its proper home two years later. uIn 2015, a painting by Picasso valued at $15 million and labeled as a lowbudget handicraft was intercepted in Newark, N.J., by HSI and CBP agents following a tip. uIn 2016, HSI’s Operation Hidden Idol seized more than $100 million in stolen antiquities, including 200 artifacts looted from India.

The multiyear Operation Mummy’s Curse investigation targeted an international criminal network illegally smuggling ancient Egyptian artifacts.

uIn 2017, royal seals belonging to a former king and queen of the Republic of Korea and valued at $1.5 million were located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, investigated by HSI and returned to South Korean officials. U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT

SUCCESSES AND CHALLENGES More than 100 new cultural properties investigations were launched in 2017 alone, Raedy said, and since 2007, more than 11,000 artifacts, books and paintings have been recovered and returned to more than 30 countries. Sometimes items are confiscated as they cross the U.S. border; others are spotted on eBay or Craigslist, at auction houses or in major museum galleries and private collections, said special agent Razmik Madoyan, who has investigated cultural property theft for the past decade.

Despite many success stories, investigators of cultural property theft have their work cut out for them, said Noah Charney, an art crime specialist and founder of the Association for Research into Crimes against Art. “Art is portable and often very small — a piece of paper can be worth six figures or more — and it is too easily hidden or passed off as something without value,” Charney said. “Particularly when you look at major ports … with thousands of shipping containers going through each day, there isn’t enough time and man-

power to check all of them thoroughly, so you’d have to be very foolish or very unlucky to get caught.” Even when smugglers are caught, it’s difficult to determine where these stolen goods belong, Cook said. An antiquity may have an identifying mark from Mesopotamia, but “Mesopotamia doesn’t exist anymore as we know it. So, sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge,” she said. “That’s why we go through an authentication process.” In the case of the Columbus letter, for example, experts used noninvasive

digital imaging to determine that the thieves had bleached out an ink mark on a genuine letter identifying it as the property of the National Library of Catalonia in Barcelona. The effort by HSI and others to rescue and preserve cultural property around the globe represents “a bigger battle” that carries significance far beyond the objects themselves, Rogala said. “This is evidence of our global history,” she said. “This is the physical expression of our shared common human heritage. That is worth protecting.”






The Koko Head radio tower in Oahu, Hawaii, is part of the Rescue 21 communications network.




Life Preservers Coast Guard’s Rescue 21 system serves as 911 for America’s waterways By Rina Rapuano



in a storm while fishing and are stranded on a boat far out to sea for 12 days with no radio antenna. Eventually, you manage a garbled, blip of a distress call by using a shirt hanger in place of your lost antenna. This dramatic, harrowing situation actually happened to a fisherman off the coast of Hawaii in 2014. His final desperate attempt at a mayday call was picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard, which sent its closest vessel, U.S. Navy destroyer USS Paul Hamilton, to rescue him. The Coast Guard said this terrifying scene might have had a less-than-happy ending if it weren’t for Rescue 21, an advanced communications infrastructure that helps significantly narrow the field of search. The system, which took roughly $710.5 million and approximately 20 years to design and implement, is now operable off the coast of the lower 48 states, plus portions of the waters off Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Mississippi


and Ohio rivers down through lower Louisiana. The final tower was erected in October 2017, protecting more than 41,000 miles of coastline by connecting 32 Coast Guard sector groups under one communications umbrella. The closest responders can answer calls, whether by land, air or sea. “Rescues that used to take us 30 to 60 minutes just to develop an area that we wanted to search — now we would have that within minutes and be able to send that out to response units,” said Capt. Jonathan Theel, who is chief of response for the Coast Guard’s Long Island Sound sector. “Roughly 90 percent or more of our cases now could be resolved within 60 minutes. Where before, it used to take 60 minutes just to develop the first search area.” That crucial time difference has unsurprisingly resulted in a corresponding increase in the Coast Guard’s ability to save lives and property. The military branch said Rescue 21 can be credited with helping to save more than 98,000 lives CO N T I N UE D



INSIDE OUR BORDERS and more than $229 million in property. “In the past, if you think of a shoreline, we have a bunch of different antennas,” Theel explained. “The person on watch would have to pay attention to which antenna was hearing that signal and what the message was. Hopefully, two of the antennas would pick up the signal, because you now know the range of that antenna. Draw a circle around that antenna, and where those two circles overlap, that would be your search area. You wanted the antennas far enough apart that you could cover the entire United States, but you wanted overlap because otherwise your search area would be huge.” If they were really fortunate, someone might also have a radio direction finder on their boat, which would allow the Coast Guard to ascertain a direction, such as east-northeast, for example. “If you have a direction plus this area of overlap, it helps you narrow the field of search,” said Theel. “Rescue 21 made all our antennas rescue direction finders. Like a Venn diagram (a system of interconnected circles), this is your golden area. If you only have one antenna that picked (the signal) up — if that area was 30 miles, that area is too huge. We wouldn’t be able to search effectively. It’s an unreasonable search area.” Stephen Farthing, the lead engineer for Remote Mission Systems for the Coast Guard, noted that Rescue 21 is imperative in remote places such as Alaska. “Water is treacherous, and search and rescue is very important in Alaska,” he noted. “If you’re in Alaska or in the Northeast, there’s not a lot of time you can survive. This is a big change from where you had to tell someone over the radio system, ‘I think I’m here.’ ” Both Theel and Farthing stress that Rescue 21 doesn’t remove the need for common-sense boating practices such as using life jackets. And both wish that more boaters would realize that new radios equipped with digital selective calling, which feature a mayday button, need to be registered and tied into the vessels’ navigation systems in order for the devices to send the boat’s coordinates to the Coast Guard during an emergency. Plus, no security system is ever 100 percent effective. No system is fail-proof, Theel added, reminding sailors: “One of the best things a boater can do is make sure somebody knows when they’re leaving, where they are going and when they’re planning on coming back.” Farthing has been with the Coast Guard for 31 years, and while he is the

COAST GUARD TO THE RESCUE General Dynamics Mission Systems, which helped build the Rescue 21 infrastructure, reports that the life-saving technology has been instrumental in several rescue missions. For example, these events took place last year:


Coast Guard members train in Traverse City, Mich. The Traverse City Air Station uses MH60 Jayhawk helicopters for search and rescue missions across the Great Lakes region.

uIn May, the mast broke on a sailboat off the California coastline with three people on board. The Coast Guard received the Rescue 21 notification and Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach issued an urgent marine information broadcast (UMIB). Coast Guard Station Morro Bay dispatched a 47-foot rescue boat, but when weather conditions prevented it from towing the sailboat, Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco deployed a HH-65 helicopter with a rescue swimmer, and all three boaters were rescued. uIn June, Rescue 21 received a distress call from a mariner off the Florida coast. Four people were on board and the vessel was taking on water in heavy seas. U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg sent a 45-foot rescue boat, MH-60 helicopter and rescue swimmer and the team saved all passengers after the boat capsized.


Members of Electronic Support Detachment Guam repair a generator that supplies backup power for a Rescue 21 radio site.

first to concede that the people who coordinate the rescues on land or by helicopter or boat are the real heroes, he feels the work he’s done on Rescue 21 is beyond rewarding. “I feel good about what we do, and we try to do the best job that we can, build

the best systems we can and make them available so they’re working when we need them — and also be good stewards of the public’s money,” he said. “One of our goals is to take the search out of the search and rescue part, and just focus on the rescue.”

uIn July, Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan received a distress call via the Rescue 21 system that a 32-foot pleasure craft was on fire near Big Sable Point, Mich., and issued a UMIB. The Ludington Coast Guard Station deployed a rescue boat, and in coordination with another vessel, all five people on board were rescued before the vessel sank.







Election Protection DHS helps states secure voting By Adam Stone



Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential vote still looming over the nation, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has put election security front and center of the department’s priorities. Threats against the election system are “real and evolving,” she said in remarks this fall at the National Election Security Summit. She noted that in the past two years, “election security has emerged as one of the principal

national security threats” facing the country. DHS has been working closely with state authorities to tame that threat. While election processes by law are the domain of state authorities, DHS in 2017 designated voting systems as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure. As a result, there is much the department can do to help secure voting, said Matt Masterson, DHS senior cybersecurity adviser, National Protection and Programs Directorate. Homeland Security gives state officials information about the evolving cyber landCO NTINUED

CYBER SPENDING DHS has been partnering with private industry to secure elections and generally harden government systems against digital incursion for years. Recent contracts include:

uA $668 million award to ManTech to protect key government networks from cyberattacks. uA $621 million contract with Booz Allen Hamilton for continuous diagnostics and mitigation of government networks. uA $530 million award to CGI Federal to enhance the cybersecurity posture and risk awareness of federal government agencies.








At the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity summit on July 31 in New York City, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stated that, “Cyberattacks now exceed the danger of physical attacks. ... This has forced us to rethink homeland security.”

scape, specific threats and security best chief information officer. “They are there practices. The department also provides to provide threat intelligence, technical services such as “phishing campaigns,” support and policy support. They in which spoof emails are sent to test can help with just-in-time actionable government employees’ ability to detect intelligence, lessons learned, suggestions potential attacks, Masterson said. for technical configurations.” At the request of state Masterson said DHS authorities, DHS will has some engagement “Election security has around election issues send experts on-site to work with state officials with all 50 states, emerged as one of in a two-week risk and although the depth and vulnerability assessthe principal national breadth of that support ment that includes can vary between security threats.” testing vulnerabilities, jurisdictions. evaluating architecture “For each state, their — KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, and creating mitigation needs are different, DHS secretary reports. The departso each can choose ment also can run what they need from remote scans on an election authority’s us,” Masterson said. In addition to an outward-facing networks and will election task force, DHS also makes field produce a weekly report on vulnerabilirepresentatives, known as protective ties, Masterson said. security advisers, available to tackle “DHS has a strong supporting role to cyber issues. Regional directors also may play,” said Theresa Payton, CEO of Foroffer resources. “On any given day, any talice Solutions and former White House one of those field folks may be in an elec-

tions office conducting an assessment or engaging with election officials.”

PROTECTION PARADOX? Ironically, some worry that the success of these efforts could actually undermine election security. For example, former DHS undersecretary for cyber and infrastructure Suzanne Spaulding sees the department’s state-level efforts as a potential double-edged sword. “We run a risk that people will be deterred from voting if the volume is turned up on the narrative that the system is rigged or cannot be trusted,” said Spaulding, now a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “While it’s important to sound the alarm, we also don’t want to accomplish an adversary’s objective in undermining the system.” Others say a big noise is just what is required. At the University of California Santa Barbara Center for Cybersecurity, professor Giovanni Vigna said DHS

Since 2016, DHS’ efforts to secure the election process have come largely through the department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), which convenes federal and state officials to share risk information and strategize defenses. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has called for Congress to pass legislation by year’s end that would turn the department’s cybersecurity office into an agency that has the freedom to operate independently. The new entity would be known as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The move would separate cyber from unrelated activities, such as the Federal Protective Service and the Office of Biometric Identity Management. It could clarify the department’s mission. “NPPD doesn’t clearly state what our mission is and what our role is. As a ‘cybersecurity’ agency, that would more clearly state why we are here and what services we provide. It would greatly enhance our ability to explain what our role is,” said Matt Masterson, NPPD’s senior cybersecurity adviser. As of press time, the legislation passed the House and Senate, but has not been signed into law.

should go broader, looping academicians and researchers into its cyber efforts. “As researchers, it’s our job to break stuff and put it back together. We have the expertise,” he said. “We should have as many eyes on this problem as possible because the election process is so unbelievably diverse. There is voter registration, vote collection, vote tallying, all carried out by different people. You have to consider all of that in your threat model.” Given all the moving parts, DHS officials say voting won’t ever be 100 percent secure. The goal, rather, is to make voting “resilient,” Masterson said. “Our ability to detect incidents and to keep the process running — that’s what is critical.”







Closing the Cyber Gender Gap Next-gen programs strive to position women for success By Suzanne Wright


HERE WILL BE 3.5 million un-

filled cybersecurity positions by 2021, according to a report by the research group Cybersecurity Ventures. Why such a dearth of qualified candidates for these

positions? Many feel it’s partly because of overlooked female talent — industry reports show women currently represent just 14 percent of the cyber workforce.

SCARCITY DEMANDS DIVERSITY “Cybersecurity companies that aren’t leveraging the power of diversity are

missing out on the rich creativity and ingenuity that fuels technology innovation,” said Chatelle Lynch, chief human resources officer for cybersecurity company McAfee. “Many companies like us are working CONTI NUED






Ebonese Olfus


Megan Morton

hard to build a more diverse talent pipeline for the future, with youth programs based on job-shadowing, role modeling and hands-on experience.” But Lynch acknowledged it’s still not enough to meet today’s requirements. She said companies need to act and think differently. It starts, Lynch said, with the recognition that some of the best cyber pros come from unconventional paths. “In our Security Operations Center, we know strong communications is critical to creating a team that can adapt and respond to threats as needed,” Lynch said. “We’ve prioritized this skill set knowing we can teach cyber, which has enabled us to recruit more females.” Ebonese Olfus is the vice president of cyber strategy and emerging technologies for Envistacom, which supports a variety of programs in the U.S. government. With more than 24 years of experience, she knows firsthand the obstacles women face — and she doesn’t sugarcoat them. “One of the challenges of being a black woman in the field is that I am constantly needing to prove my abilities

Dakota State University professor Pam Rowland, left, co-founded CybHER to encourage young girls to explore opportunities in the cyber field. The weeklong CybHER camp is the largest girls-only residential camp in the country.

and competencies beyond what I see my male colleagues needing to prove,” Olfus said. “This has been the case over and over in both government positions and in private companies.” But Olfus knows the value of diverse perspectives. “People from different backgrounds, genders and life experiences often have different ways of approaching and finding solutions to problems,” she said. “Teams that look to capitalize on these differences, rather than demand everybody think in the same way, are often the most effective.”

SPARKING EMERGING TALENT Fortunately, companies, universities and government agencies are creating more opportunities for young women to explore the cyber sector. Dakota State University professors Ashley Podhradsky and Pam Rowland founded the educational program CybHER in 2016 as a platform to encourage more girls to enter the cyber field. Through a joint grant by the National Security Agency (NSA) and National

“Cybersecurity companies that aren’t leveraging the power of diversity are missing out on the rich creativity and ingenuity that fuels technology innovation. Many companies ... are working hard to build a more diverse talent pipeline for the future.” — Chatelle Lynch, cybersecurity professional

Science Foundation, CybHER sponsors more than 125 rising sixth- through ninth-grade girls at an annual weeklong CybHER camp on the Dakota State campus. “We have influenced more than 10,000 girls,” said Rowland, who is an assistant professor of cybersecurity. “CybHER gives girls the ability to see themselves in a role that women have not typically held.” She felt that spark needed to be nurtured. “I’m so encouraged by the enthusiasm and excitement of this next generation,” Rowland said. “I see young women having more confidence and knowledge than ever before.”

BREAKING STEREOTYPES Women in the cyber field, including Eman El-Sheikh, director of the Center for Cybersecurity and professor of computer science at the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola, cite the need to change industry stereotypes. “It’s CONTI NUED







Boyden Rohner, DHS’ deputy Boyden Rohner, DHS’ deputy director operations at the director forfor operations at the National Cybersecurity and ComNational Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, munications Integration Center, has worked nearly two decades has worked nearly two decades in in male-dominated fields. She male-dominated fields. She offered these insights gleaned offered these insights gleaned from her career: from her career: What personality types What personality types can excel in the field? can excel in the field? ROHNER: Someone who is is ROHNER: Someone who comfortable going into uncharted comfortable going into uncharted territory. You’re working in the territory. You’re working in the minority; there aren’t many role minority; there aren’t many role models. But we won’t get there models. But we won’t get there unless women lean into thethe unless women lean into space. space.



University of of West West Florida Florida professor professor Eman cater toto diversity. University Eman El-Sheikh El-Sheikhsays sayseducational educationalinstitutions institutionsneed needtotodesign designprograms programsthat that cater diversity.

not just a lone hacker who’s going (to) not just a lone cybersecurity guru who’s protect our communities, our families going (to) protect our communities, our and our nation,” she said. families and our nation,” she said. To increase female enrollment in these To increase female enrollment in these fields, El-Sheikh believes educational fields, El-Sheikh believes educational institutions need to design ground-up institutions need to design ground-up programs that cater to diversity. “As programs that cater to diversity. “As educators, we need to be more thoughtful educators, we need to be more thoughtful in developing our curricula from the in developing our curricula from the beginning, including advertising and beginning, including advertising and recruitment,” she said. recruitment,” she said. That commitment is reflected in the That commitment is reflected the multidisciplinary approach UWFin takes multidisciplinary approach UWF takes to cyber education. “To collectively stay to cyber education. “To collectively stay two or three steps ahead in the changing two or three steps ahead in the changing cyber landscape, we need experts across cyber landscape, we need experts across the spectrum — in business, criminal the spectrum — in business, criminal justice, engineering, IT, law and psycholjustice, engineering, IT, law and psychology,” El-Sheikh explained. ogy,”Megan El-Sheikh explained. Morton, 20, is a student Megan Morton, a student at UWF who began20, herisstudies in at UWF who beganbut herswitched studies in computer science her major computer scienceafter but switched her major to cybersecurity taking a cyber to cybersecurity a cyber course. This July,after she taking won second place course. This July,company she won Morphisec’s second place in cybersecurity in cybersecurity company Morphisec’s international Women in Cybersecurity international Women in Cybersecurity scholarship competition . scholarship competition.

“When I found out I won the scholar“When I found out I won the scholarship, it really boosted my confidence in ship, it really boosted my confidence in myself and my abilities,” said Morton, myself and my abilities,” said Morton, who is on track to graduate in 2020. who is on track to graduate in 2020. Already, she’s faced discrimination in the Already, she’s faced discrimination in the classroom and beyond. classroom and frustrates beyond. me is when “What really “What really frustrates me is when males underestimate your abilities just males underestimate your abilities just because you’re a female,” said Morton. “It because you’re a your female,” Morton. makes you doubt ownsaid abilities even“It makes you doubt your own abilities even more.” more.”

MENTORS MAKE A DIFFERENCE MENTORS A DIFFERENCE To combat MAKE the pressure in the current To combat the pressure environment, Morton turnsin tothe hercurrent menenvironment, Morton turns to herand mentor, Michelle Ward, a UWF alumna tor, Michelle Ward, UWF alumna and founder and CEO of ainformation security founder and CEO of information security company Cyber Safe Workforce. Morton company Cyber Safe Workforce. Morton wrote her award-winning scholarship wroteabout her award-winning scholarship essay Ward. essay aboutWard Ward.has been at many of “Michelle “Michelle Ward has been at many UWF’s speaking events,” Morton said.of UWF’s speaking me events,” “She encouraged to be Morton bold andsaid. “She encouraged meeven to bewhen bold it and participate in things can participate in things even when itmore can be a little scary. I started entering be a little scary. I started entering moreI cybersecurity competitions, even when cybersecurity competitions, when I felt I wasn’t skilled enough to even contribute felt I wasn’t skilled enough to contribute

anything meaningful.” anything meaningful.” Many women suffer from “imposter Many women suffer from “imposter syndrome,” a form of self-sabotage. “It’s syndrome,” a form of self-sabotage. “It’s where women attribute their success to where women attribute their success to luck, feeling they don’t deserve recogniluck, feeling they don’t deserve recognition,” El-Sheikh explained. “As opposed “As opposed totion,” men El-Sheikh who ‘own’ explained. their achievements to men who ‘own’ their achievements due to hard work, knowledge, skills and due to hard work, knowledge, skills and abilities.” abilities.” El-Sheikh said women have to believe saidthat women toat believe andEl-Sheikh demonstrate they have belong the and demonstrate that they belong at the table. Olfus agreed: “Girls — especially table. Olfus— agreed: “Girls —that especially girls of color need to know they girls colorin—their needjourney. to knowOthers that they are notofalone are not alonethe in their have traveled samejourney. path andOthers have have traveled the same path and have been successful.” been successful.” Morton finds additional support as a Morton finds additional support member of UWF’s Cybersecurity Club.as a member of UWF’s Cybersecurity And she’s paying it forward, servingClub. as And paying it forward, serving as one ofshe’s UWF’s Cybersecurity Ambasone of visiting UWF’s Cybersecurity sadors, area schools toAmbaspique sadors,among visiting area schools to pique interest younger students. interest younger “After Iamong joined the club, Istudents. started “After Imore joined the club, I started becoming outgoing and doing becoming outgoing and doing more thingsmore outside of my classes,” said more things outside my classes,” Morton. “It helped me of feel more confi-said Morton. “It helped meabilities.” feel more confident in myself and my dent in myself and my abilities.”

What’s the biggest myth? What What’s the biggest myth? What levels the playing field? levels the playing field? Entry-level people don’t necesEntry-level people don’t necessarily need to have a four-year sarily need to have a four-year degree; you can be self-taught or degree; you can be self-taught or invest in certifications. You don’t invest in certifications. You don’t have to have particular aptitude have to have particular aptitude in math and science. Cybersein math and science. Cybersecurity is about the outcome, curity is about the outcome, problem- solving, demonstrating problem- solving, demonstrating how you think. Any background how you think. Any background can be purposed into the space. can be purposed into the space. What traits have been a plus forWhat you?traits have been a plus for ability you? to communicate has My My ability to communicate gotten me further in my career has gotten me further career than any other skill. Ininamy field rife than any otherskilled skill. In a field rife with technically people with technically skilled people who don’t always effectively colwho don’t always effectively collaborate, it’s been a differentiator. laborate, it’s been a differentiator. Tell us about the value of Tell us about the value of mentoring. mentoring. The “old boys club” was The “old club” was invented for aboys reason. I’m 41, and for a I’m 41, and I’minvented at the cusp ofreason. a big attitudinal I’m at in the cusp of a big attitudinal change the military. It wasn’t change in the military. It wasn’t always a collegial environment. So always a to collegial I reach out womenenvironment. who I think So I reach out to women whoorI think need extra encouragement I need extra encouragement or I think have potential. think have potential.






Security Schooling Degree programs prepare students for agency careers By Amy Sinatra Ayres


F YOU’RE LOOKING FOR a career within the Department of Home-

land Security, a number of colleges and universities offer relevant degree programs online, on-campus or both. Earning a general degree in homeland security can help you qualify for a position within DHS, and you can also consider more specialized training, such as a degree in law enforcement, cybersecurity or emergency management. Here’s a roundup of some options to consider:











Capella University (Minnesota) Master of Science in information assurance and cybersecurity ucapella.edu

Arkansas Tech University Bachelor of Science in emergency management; Master of Science in emergency management and homeland security uatu.edu

Arizona State University Bachelor of Science in public service and public policy with a concentration in emergency management and homeland security; Master of Arts in emergency management and homeland security uasu.edu

Bellevue University (Nebraska) Bachelor of Science in criminal justice; Master of Science in justice administration and crime management ubellevue.edu

Fairleigh Dickinson University (New Jersey) Bachelor of Science in computer science with a concentration in cybersecurity; Master of Science in cyber and homeland security administration ufdu.edu

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Florida) Bachelor of Science in emergency services; Bachelor of Science in homeland security uerau.edu

Florida A&M University Cyber defense certificate program at the undergraduate and graduate levels ufamu.edu

North Dakota State University Bachelors of arts and science, Master of Science or Ph.D. in emergency management undsu.edu

New York University Master of Science in cybersecurity risk and strategy for executives unyu.edu

State University of New York at Canton Bachelor of Science in emergency management; Bachelor of Technology in homeland security ucanton.edu

Northeastern University (Boston) Master of Science in cybersecurity unortheastern.edu Purdue University (Indiana) Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity; Master of Science in computer science upolytechnic.purdue.edu Texas A&M University Master of Engineering with a specialization in cybersecurity and certificate programs utamu.edu Tuskegee University (Alabama) Bachelor of Science in computer engineering with a focus on cybersecurity engineering. Several Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) security certifications are offered. utuskegee.edu University of Pittsburgh School of Computing and Information has an interdisciplinary undergraduate program for cybersecurity; Master of Science and Ph.D. in information science upitt.edu

University of Central Missouri Bachelor of Science in crisis and disaster management uucmo.edu University of Delaware Master of Science, Ph.D. in disaster science and management uudel.edu University of North Texas Bachelor of Science in emergency administration and planning; Master of Public Administration with specialization in emergency administration and planning; Ph.D. in Public Administration and Management with concentration in emergency administration and planning uunt.edu Upper Iowa University Bachelor of Science in emergency and disaster management; Master of Public Administration with emergency management and homeland security emphasis uuiu.edu

Goerge Washington University (Washington, D.C.) Master of Professional Studies in homeland security ugwu.edu Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University Bachelor of Science in leadership in homeland security ueastfalls.jefferson.edu Tulane University (New Orleans) Bachelor of Arts, Master of Professional Studies or graduate certificate in homeland security studies utulane.edu University of Maryland University College Bachelor of Science in homeland security; Master of Science in information technology with specialization in homeland security management; Master of Science in management with an emergency management specialization uumuc.edu Virginia Commonwealth University Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts or a graduate certificate in homeland security and emergency preparedness uvcu.edu

Colorado State University — Global Campus Bachelor or Master of criminal justice and law enforcement administration ucsuglobal.edu Drury University (Missouri) Associate, Bachelor of Science or certificate in law enforcement udrury.edu Excelsior College (New York) Bachelor of Science or Master of Science in criminal justice with optional concentration in homeland security and emergency management uexcelsior.edu Florida State University Bachelor of Science in criminology and criminal justice; Master of Science in law enforcement intelligence ufsu.edu Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) Master of Professional Studies in applied intelligence ugeorgetown.edu Pennsylvania State University Bachelor of Science or Master of Arts in criminal justice upsu.edu University of Cincinnati Associate of Applied Science in criminal justice technology; Bachelor of Science in criminal justice uuc.edu University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee Bachelor of Science or Master of Science in criminal justice uuwm.edu







Bug Hunters GM hires hackers to find vulnerabilities in car computers By Jamie L. LaReau



expressed concern that consumers’ data and safety might be at risk if manufacturers of highly computerized cars aren’t prepared to defend against cybersecurity threats. A 2017 DHS report stated that “as (autonomous) vehicles become increasingly connected ... vulnerabilities and potential consequences are likely to increase unless cybersecurity is better integrated into vehicle design and development.” General Motors is taking no chances. It’s bringing in experts to help thwart security breaches. In August, GM invited researchers, some of whom are professional computer hackers, to their Detroit headquarters with the promise of cash or a bounty for each “bug” they uncovered in any of GM vehicles’ computer systems. “We’ll show them the products, programs and systems for which we plan to establish these bug bounties. Then we’ll put them in a comfortable environment ... and turn them loose,” GM’s President Dan Ammann said in a speech at the Billington CyberSecurity Summit at Cobo Center in Detroit. Afterward, GM planned to send these cybersecurity pros home with hardware to continue their research over many weeks, he said. The program, called Bug Bounty, includes about 10 researchers GM has hand-picked. “They are white-hat researchers who we’ve established relationships with through our coordinated disclosure program,” Jeffrey Massimilla, GM’s vice president of global cybersecurity, told reporters at the summit. “White hat” is internet slang for an ethical computer hacker or computer security expert who specializes in penetration testing or other methods to help protect an organization’s informa-

tion technology systems from hacking and other security breaches. GM started its coordinated disclosure program two years ago, making it one of the first automakers to embrace the work of white-hat researchers for its products and programs, according to Massimilla. The coordinated disclosure program was open to anyone, but GM did not pay those researchers for any contributions. Instead, he said, GM built relationships and identified the 10 it would pay to fix the bugs. GM presently employs about 450 people in the cybersecurity area, Massimilla said. It’s not clear how much GM will pay the bug hunters or what it has spent on cybersecurity so far. However, Ammann assured protecting the company’s products and consumers is of the utmost importance. “It is a top priority.” GM is aggressively pursuing development and deployment of autonomous vehicles, which it plans to take to market next year, added Ammann, whose company has a broad perspective of where threats to information technology could arise. “The overall threat level ... is only going to grow from here, which is why we’re putting so much energy and resources into getting ahead and staying ahead,” Ammann told reporters at the summit. The work is not just happening inside the company, said Ammann, but GM is “taking advantage of third-party researchers, taking advantage of thirdparty expertise from multiple different places, working together across the industry to collaborate to make sure we have all the best minds working on this issue.” Convincing consumers that GM cars are secure from any cyberthreats will happen by meeting government regulations and having strong public communications, Ammann said, adding, “We’ll have work to do ahead of us on that.”






RISK VERSUS REWARD An August 2017 report by the Department of Homeland Security cited the many ways the department feels the use of autonomous vehicles will benefit society, including the potential to lessen traffic congestion, reduce commute times and promote environmentally friendly car-sharing. The report cautions, however, that, “Although smart cars sound beneficial to how people live their lives, the risks associated with these new technologies are reason for concern. Tests conducted on several cars, including high-end vehicles made by Tesla and Jeep, have found numerous vulnerabilities easily exploitable by hackers. Wireless entry, for instance, allows hackers to remotely control navigation systems or steering, and even hijack communication with other cars. Connected vehicles present a genuine and imminent threat to consumers. The government must get serious and regulate security for this budding industry before a major catastrophe occurs.” — Debbie Williams GETTY IMAGES



TECHNOLOGY & JOBS Federal Air Marshal Training Center, Atlantic City, N.J.



Dream Jobs Homeland security careers span broad range of fields By Matt Alderton


N SPRING 2018, THE National

Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) asked more than 16,000 American youth where they most wanted to work. Along with tech companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple, students said they dreamed of working for Walt Disney

Co., the FBI, NASA, Netflix and The New York Times. Forty percent of the top 10 most-desired employers were in health care, including No. 1-ranked St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Clearly, young people don’t fancy futures working in cubicles. Instead, they see themselves working in hospitals, laboratories, television studios and newsrooms. They want

to explore, discover, help, contribute and create. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security didn’t make NSHSS’ list, but it offers many of the same benefits as employers that did, including opportunities for impact, innovation and adventure. Not surprisingly, the following individuals found their dream jobs at DHS:

When most Americans think of the TSA, they think of airport security screeners. The pinnacle of aviation security, however, isn’t at the airport; it’s in the air, with TSA’s Federal Air Marshal Service. Armed, undercover federal law enforcement officers who travel aboard domestic and international flights, federal air marshals (FAMs) are hired “to safeguard and protect the flight, the passengers and the crew,” according to Federal Air Marshal Service spokesman Thomas Kelly. “You’re the tip of the spear. If something happens on board an aircraft, you’re there to take care of it,” explained Kelly, who said there also are uniformed FAMs who work on the ground as members of TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) team, which deters acts of terrorism by providing visible security in airports, bus terminals, train stations and seaports. Mostly, though, FAMs fly. “FAMs work five days a week, and they are flying almost every single day,” said Kelly, a criminal justice major who began his career in local law enforcement, then moved to the Federal Bureau of Prisons before becoming a FAM after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “There weren’t a lot of air marshals before 9/11, but afterward there was a big push to put more people aboard aircraft. I answered the call, and I haven’t looked back since.” Although most FAMs still come either from local police forces, federal law enforcement or the military, Kelly said diversity matters. “The goal of a federal air marshal is to blend in,” he explained. “We try to look like every other passenger out there … so we look for and recruit a very diverse workforce.” Candidates are subject to the same rigorous requirements and screening as those applying to the Secret Service. One thing that can help individuals stand out, however, is civic engagement. “You’ve got to have something that separates you from everybody else because it’s very competitive,” Kelly said. “I like people who are civically involved; it shows you have compassion and understanding for other people.”






JOSE RIVERA SPECIAL AGENT, U.S. SECRET SERVICE In the movies, Secret Service agents loom large. Unmistakable in their dark glasses, suits and earpieces, they flank the commander in chief like wings on an airplane, perpetually scanning for threats and ever ready to quash them. Unlike most Hollywood portrayals, however, the dedication with which Secret Service agents do their job is real. Just ask Special Agent Jose Rivera, who fulfilled a lifelong dream when the Secret Service appointed him to its Miami Electronic

Crimes Task Force. Although the Secret Service typically recruits from the military or law enforcement, Rivera’s background is in education. After getting a master’s degree in public administration, he became coordinator of student conduct at a university, where he investigated alleged conduct violations. The skills he honed — threat assessment, evidence gathering and interviewing witnesses — are what ultimately secured him a job with the Secret Service. “I wasn’t a police officer, but I had the skills to do investigations,” explained Rivera, who said Secret

Service agents divide their time between two missions: protecting the president, vice president and visiting heads of state; and investigating financial and electronic crimes against U.S. interests. “I could be going after a money launderer one week, and the very next week I could be (protecting) the king of Spain in Miami Beach.” Rivera said aspiring special agents should seek education and experience that will prepare them for both missions. Although that might mean enlisting in the Army or enrolling in a local police academy, it might also mean pursuing a career in cybersecurity or forensic accounting.

Whatever their path, candidates must meet a few basic requirements. Secret Service agents must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 21 and 36, possess a current valid driver’s license, qualify for a top secret security clearance and have good physical health. They should also expect a long interview process that includes a written exam, a physical abilities test and a background investigation, complete with polygraph. The screening is rigorous, but the job satisfaction is unmatched. “If you want to feel like you’re making a difference,” Rivera said, “(the Secret Service) is definitely the way to go.”










LT. ERIN NOLAN PILOT, U.S. COAST GUARD Instead of four walls and a desk, Lt. Erin Nolan’s workspace has two engines and a rotor. That’s because it isn’t an office, it’s a Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter. “I have the best corner office in the world,” said Nolan, a pilot at U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City in Michigan. “For the most part, my job involves hopping in an aircraft and going out with a great crew of people to do some fascinating, interesting stuff I’d never get to do anywhere else.” That “stuff” includes rescuing commercial boaters, evacuating injured crew from commercial freighters, recovering lost tourists and policing the U.S.-Canada border. “Every day is different,” said Nolan, who graduated from the Coast Guard Academy with a mechanical engineering degree. “You don’t have to have an engineering degree to get into flight school, but it has helped me tremendously, because when you’re a pilot you need to be able to not only fly the aircraft, but also understand how it works so you can respond correctly

when things go wrong.” Because all Coast Guard aviators are commissioned officers and college graduates, the first steps to becoming a pilot are earning a bachelor’s degree and officer credentials. You can acquire the latter by enrolling in the Coast Guard Academy, like Nolan did, or attend the Coast Guard’s Officer Candidate School, a 17-week training program for civilians ages 21 to 30 and current enlisted members of the Coast Guard ages 21 to 34. From there, commissioned officers must complete naval flight training in Florida, followed by Coast Guard flight training in Alabama. Alternatively, military pilots from other services can transfer directly into the Coast Guard through its Direct Commission Aviator program. Along with the aforementioned age limitations, aspiring pilots must be eligible for a security clearance and meet minimum standards for physical health, GPA, test scores, moral character and even credit worthiness. “There are some basic requirements, but you shouldn’t let fear hold you back,” Nolan advised. “If you’re interested, go for it; you’ll never know unless you go through the process.”

Computers have changed communication, shopping, learning and even dating. Unfortunately, they’ve also changed national security. That’s why DHS established the National Cybersecurity Assessments and Technical Services (NCATS) team within its National Protection and Programs Directorate. Although few people have heard of NCATS, it’s a dream employer for Americans with cyber skills. Citizens like Jason Hill, head of NCATS’ “Red Team,” a group of white-hat hackers who deliberately attack digital infrastructures to make them more resilient. “We try to gain access to a stakeholder’s network via phishing or other means, and then we show them what it looks like to be hacked,” explained Hill, whose customers include local, state, federal and tribal governments, as well as private-sector operators of critical infrastructure. “We try to show them their weaknesses, so they

can mitigate some of the vulnerabilities they didn’t know they had.” For Hill, who has a degree in computer information systems, it’s a chance to do what he loves while also having a positive influence. “I like making computers do things they weren’t intended to do,” said Hill, a self-taught hacker who cut his teeth doing cyber work for the Army National Guard. “I get to do something I like to do as a hobby, and I get to use that to help out the nation.” When he’s hiring, NCATS Director Rob Karas looks first for someone with technical prowess. In lieu of a specific degree or work experience, candidates must demonstrate their competency by sharing original code they’ve written and passing a skills test. Those with technical talent must then demonstrate the requisite soft skills, the most important of which is passion. “Most of the people here do the same things at home that they do at work,” explained Karas, who said many NCATS employees have homebased virtual networks on which they constantly toy and tinker. “They’re always trying to learn.” Because a background check is mandatory, black-hat hackers need not apply. “A lot of people messed around (with hacking) in high school or college because they thought it was fun,” Karas concluded. “We can’t have that; everybody here has the highest morals and ethics.”





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