Interview with Paul P. Chen: Applications Interoperability and Cyber-Security

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Mr. Paul P. Chen is the MILS Senior dirctor and product manager for Wind River, the VxWorks Multiple Independent Levels of Security technology vendor.

SNAP, a General Dynamics/Wind River project
SNAP, a General Dynamics/Wind River project

I interviewed Dr. Chen at the Wind River offices in Ra’anana.

Mr. Chen, please tell me about the MILS software architecture.

This technology emerged in 1991 and got a serious boost over the last ten years. The previous standard was called IMA (Open Integrated Modular Avionic). The trend was having more and more computer platforms integrated into the planes and the hardware was constantly upgraded – facing strict requirements of SWaP (Size, Weight and Power Consumption). In order to stay efficient and keep up with the requirements, the IMA standard was developed. The principle is Hardware Consolidation of many different applications (real-time, critical) that run in parallel.

The MILS standard is aimed in achieving the same and much more. While the IMA is aimed at assuring safety operations – against mistakes and malfunctions, the MILS is aimed at facing deliberate cyber damages which may leak through across partitions – one application infecting others.

What is your role in Wind River?

I am responsible for Wind River VxWorks MILS product management and manager of the technical marketing group – supporting sales and doing requirements and innovation capturing from our clients.

How do you see the future of Cyber threats and MILS?

President Obama had defined Cyber defense as a key goal and target in the next years for critical infrastructure. We see MILS technology penetrating every system that requires different secrecy levels while maintaining information sharing between users. We see the requirements in the military, Homeland Security agencies, critical infrastructure – providing both different levels of information security and information compartmentalization. Verticals of national critical infrastructure like finance intuitions, energy, water, public transportation and many more require seamless interoperability of different applications, from different origins and with different goals (security, IT, operations, monitoring and more).

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IHLS – Israel Homeland Security

Many experts will say that the only solution for cyber threats is total networks separation and isolation. When everything is connected – everything is vulnerable!

Even totally isolated and separated networks are not fool-proof, we always have the human factor. Like we heard too many times, during many tragic events in the past we couldn’t “connect the dots” – we had the information but the problem was in sharing the information and getting the right feedback and actionable intelligence. The idea is to be able to get the alerts in real time – MILS provides the ability to share the information while minimizing the data and applications exposure to cyber threats.

There is a tradeoff between information sharing and interoperability and between the risk level. We have to determine the right working point – MILS enables this point to enable sharing while staying safe.

Do you see MILS active in the revolution of “Internet of Things”?

Sure. This is a very good example of the need for sharing information across platforms, in a very safe and secure way while assuring information flow.

Wind River is part of a group including Intel and McAfee, is there a synergy?

Intel provides silicon hardware supporting information security such as TPM (Trusted Platform Module), encryption engines and much more. Wind River is providing security in a stable unified operation system suited for many different applications. McAfee is providing tools and capabilities for information security in higher application levels based on, among other capabilities, different partitions created by using the MILS capabilities.

What do you see as the vision for MILS for the next 3-5 years?

I envision MILS spreading in the fields we mentioned before and entering new fields – wherever there is a need for command centers, managing processes and information sharing, utilizing remote access and collaboration.

Can you tell me about the General Dynamics case study?

We are proud to say that we have a showcase with General Dynamics’ Secure Network Architecture and Processing (SNAP) solution running VxWorks MILS. SNAP is an open architecture multilevel secure (MLS) infrastructure for collaborative tactical network operations. SNAP enables sharing of data at high bandwidths with low latency in a size, weight, and power (SWaP) constrained environment.

Thank you and enjoy your stay in Israel.