Intercepts

Joint Staff to get first woman C4 director; Hacker warning note: Don’t mess with MDA; The vanishing IG report; The Army network vision thing.

Joint Staff to get first woman C4 director
President Bush has nominated Rear Adm. Nancy Brown for promotion to vice admiral and appointment as director of command, control, communications and computer (C4) systems for the Joint Staff, replacing Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Shea.

Brown currently serves as director of command and control systems at the North American Aerospace Defense Command and director of architectures and integration at the U.S. Northern Command.

Retired Vice Adm. Herb Browne, president and chief executive officer of AFCEA International, said Brown has all “the right tickets” for her new job, including staff and combat experience, a tour as the Joint Staff’s vice director of C4 systems and a communications degree from the Naval Postgraduate School. Furthermore, she is a leader who has the support of the troops.

Sounds like the women the Interceptor has worked for here at Federal Computer Week since 1987. During that stretch, either the top editor or the publisher — and sometimes both — have been women.

Hacker warning note: Don’t mess with MDA James Armstrong, chief information officer at the Missile Defense Agency, told the Interceptor that MDA has an armed-response component to its network systems defense.

He was responding to a series of stories we published last week on potential security flaws the Defense Department inspector general identified in MDA’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system and the GMD Communications Network. Armstrong said the network is “absolutely airwalled,” with no connection to the public Internet.

The network, which Harris has described as the largest Synchronous Optical Network in the world, runs on specific devices. Anyone who attempts to link another device to the network will trip an alarm, resulting in an armed response, Armstrong said.

We hope that response will involve weapons with more precise targeting abilities than some MDA rockets, which have an unfortunate tendency to go astray.

The vanishing IG report David Altwegg, MDA’s deputy director of operations, confirmed that the agency asked DOD’s IG to remove a report from its Web site that highlighted problems with the GMD network. MDA made the request because of security concerns, including the fact that the report identified the network.

Altwegg confirmed our suspicions, even though a well-meaning and affable Pentagon public affairs officer first tried to convince us that the report disappeared because of a computer glitch.

We pointed out that if there was such a glitch, it was targeted better than some MDA warheads, given that it selectively wiped out just one report on the IG’s Web site. When asked why he was talking to FCW about a network the agency does not want publicly identified, Altwegg — to his credit — said he understood First Amendment rights. We were relieved to hear that because we had started to worry about MDA’s armed-response policy.

The Army network vision thing This is the time of year when all the military services issue their vision statements. If you can make it past all the “overarching” stuff, you can usually find a few gems, such as the Army’s plan to consolidate network access points into a limited number of Area Processing Centers that will use state-of-the-art, defense-in-depth technologies and processes.

The Army said the centers “will not only improve network security policy enforcement but greatly reduce both the amount of information technology hardware and the system administrators required to manage it.”

We can hardly wait for the insights of Kevin Carroll, program executive officer for widgets.

Intercept something? Send it to bbrewin@fcw.com.

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