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2018 W.Y. Smith Award for Excellence

The Cyber Security Team led by David Sanders, whose members include Justin Caleskie, George Gvadzabia, Kenny Hope, Annie John, Domingo Limo, and Stanley Weber is the winner of the 2018 W.Y. Smith Award for Excellence.

The Award is named for General Smith, who served as IDA president from 1985 to 1990, after retiring from a long Air Force career that included combat sorties over Korea and concluded as Deputy Commander of European Command. The Award recognizes outstanding contributions by members of the professional staff, excluding research staff members.

The Cybersecurity Team continually balances IDA researcher needs and sponsor demands in a highly complex and ever-evolving national security and cybersecurity compliance environment. The Team synthesizes data from multiple sources, triages and prioritizes events, and takes mitigating actions to defeat or limit malicious behaviors. Two examples illustrate the Team’s success in protecting us from a continuous stream of attacks:

  • For the last 18 months, the Team has tracked an advanced persistent threat actor that is profiling senior personnel through various e-mail campaigns. By understanding that actor’s tools, techniques, and procedures, the Team minimizes otherwise adverse effects and discourages further attacks.

  • Late last year, IDA was attacked by a nation state actor attributed as Russia. Thanks to the Team’s alertness, we quickly deleted all affected e-mails, and blocked the attacking compromised domain and malware callback domains. The Team helped minimize damage to the entire Defense Industrial Base by promptly notifying the other unaware DIB cybersecurity partners of the attack, which was targeted on think tanks and large defense contractors.

IDA is especially grateful for David Sanders’s leadership of this extraordinary team. The talent and teamwork of David and his colleagues provide exactly the responses needed to protect our systems against a continuing stream of unanticipated events.