Network Would Link Defense Functions, People

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2011 — To opti­mize U.S. cyber­se­cu­ri­ty using a new infor­ma­tion-shar­ing enter­prise net­work in a reduced-bud­get era, a top Defense Depart­ment offi­cial gave indus­try lead­ers a chal­lenge: “We need your inno­va­tion.”
Robert J. Carey, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for infor­ma­tion man­age­ment inte­gra­tion and tech­nol­o­gy and the Pentagon’s chief infor­ma­tion offi­cer, out­lined the department’s “enter­prise strat­e­gy and roadmap” for mem­bers of the Armed Forces Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Elec­tron­ic Asso­ci­a­tion here April 22.

Carey said the plan would bring all branch­es of the mil­i­tary togeth­er on the same infor­ma­tion-shar­ing net­work sys­tem.

“It’s not about con­sol­i­da­tion as much as it is about rais­ing secu­ri­ty, while keep­ing enter­prise in view,” he said. “Improv­ing cyber­se­cu­ri­ty is what this is about.”

Mak­ing sure fire­walls get trust­ed infor­ma­tion and dri­ving costs down while rais­ing the secu­ri­ty bar form the nexus of the effort, Carey said.

“When a ser­vice mem­ber is down­range, he does­n’t care where the infor­ma­tion comes from –- only that it’s at hand and he can do some­thing with it,” Carey said. “Enter­prise is action­able, time­ly, rel­e­vant, trust­ed infor­ma­tion.”

And while it seems sim­ple to pro­vide, he said, the exis­tence of many net­works makes it dif­fi­cult.

Defense bud­get cuts have become the cat­a­lyst for change, Carey told the indus­try lead­ers, and find­ing effi­cien­cies to run the depart­ment has become essen­tial.

“If we keep doing what we’ve done [with past fund­ing], we’re not going to get there,” he said.

The enter­prise net­work, how­ev­er, would cost lit­tle, because the system’s archi­tec­ture would result from a “bot­tom-up” approach, Carey said, with DOD mak­ing new uses out of exist­ing net­work equip­ment from all mil­i­tary branch­es.

“It’s real­ly hard to defend [the department’s] 15,000-ish net­works and 10,000 appli­ca­tions and sys­tems,” he acknowl­edged. But even with a sub­stan­tial amount of details yet to be ironed out –- includ­ing net­work opti­miza­tion, data cen­ter con­sol­i­da­tion, data tag­ging and oth­ers — Carey said some effi­cien­cy ini­tia­tives already are pay­ing off after six to eight months of work, such as in track­ing iden­ti­ty on clas­si­fied net­works.

“It’s actu­al­ly start­ing to hap­pen,” he said.

Email is anoth­er chal­lenge. “There are a lot of email sys­tems out there,” he told the group. “We’ve got to buy what we have bet­ter, and use what we have bet­ter.”

Carey said all branch­es of the mil­i­tary bought email sys­tems and set them up com­mand by com­mand, ship by ship, with no tight­ly knit com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem. But now, he added, enter­prise sys­tem pur­chas­es for hard­ware and soft­ware will be viewed with a crit­i­cal eye.

“We need to look at: ‘Is it applic­a­ble at the enter­prise lev­el? If it is, how can I buy it bet­ter than I’m buy­ing it now? How can I use my mon­ey more wise­ly for the tax­pay­er?’ ” Carey said.

The chal­lenges of the new enter­prise sys­tem will be many, Carey said, but he added that he believes it is a proven sys­tem that is both cost-effec­tive and essen­tial for improved cyber­se­cu­ri­ty.

“We are start­ing this pump with the water we already have,” he said, not­ing the drop in fund­ing for the enter­prise net­work sys­tem. “And the defense lead­er­ship rec­og­nizes that fac­tor.”

Launch­ing the sys­tem will take more time with less fund­ing, Carey said, “but we’re still going for­ward, because this can be done on its own grav­i­ty.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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