IPv6: A Moving Target

The Defense Department is scheduled to transition to the next-generation IP, known as IPv6, by 2008, but DOD has already missed the first of many deadlines associated with that enormous task.

At DOD and elsewhere, most networks are based on the decades-old IPv4. The new version brings many improvements, such as more available network addresses and better routing and configuration functions. Beginning in October, all networks plugging into the Global Information Grid must be IPv6 compatible.

In June, DOD chief information officer John Stenbit said the department would select three large programs to serve as early adopters of the new protocol. The "results of those three experiments will [determine] if we pull the switch in 2008," he said.

Stenbit had said definitive program choices would be made within 30 days, but that deadline has passed and it now appears those decisions will not be made for another few weeks.

"Optimists close to the process predict two to four weeks," according to a DOD spokesman. But with many senior officials on leave this time of year, including Stenbit, the Interceptor is betting September at the earliest.

The Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, Non- Classified Internet Protocol Router Network and Navy Marine Corps Intranet were all being considered as early adopters, Stenbit said.

A draft DOD IPv6 transition plan was also supposed to be ready by now with a completion date in early September, according to his policy memo. It is unclear whether the delay will affect the final deadline.

A Privacy Safety Net

This week DOD will begin beta testing a computerized training tool to help ensure that intelligence personnel comply with the privacy statutes and guidelines that govern data collection and dissemination.

The 45-minute CD-ROM will include training scenarios that illustrate how DOD intelligence personnel should deal with private information collected on U.S. citizens, said George Lotz II, assistant to the secretary of Defense for intelligence oversight.

Speaking at a July 22 meeting of DOD's Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee, Lotz said training is the key to ensuring that privacy guidelines are met.

"The safety net here is the user," he said. "The best protections against violations are training personnel in Defense intelligence oversight rules."

When asked if DOD workers had ever been disciplined for privacy infractions, Lotz said most violations are accidental, but others are flagrant and result in punishment.

For example, one intelligence official who controlled satellites used one to take a picture of his girlfriend's house. That was not only an intelligence violation, but also blatant fraud, waste and abuse, Lotz said, adding that the government employee was fired.

Mirror, Mirror

What is the No. 1 threat to operational security? If you don't know the answer to that, take a look in the mirror. It's you.

Operational security "is one of those things we can all do to strengthen the country," said Ray Semko, a member of the Interagency Operations Security Support Staff, which acts as a consultant to federal agencies. "We tend to look at information in two ways: classified and unclassified. The fact is we really don't have a lot of truly unclassified information in the jobs we do; most of it is sensitive."

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists, he said, didn't get hold of a single classified document, didn't hack into any systems, didn't raise suspicions or stand out in any way. Instead, they practiced their own form of operational security.

Semko, always a motivating speaker, lamented to an audience at the Government Security Exposition that terrorists and other "bad guys" practice operational security better than its inventor: the U.S. government.

"Information is the ultimate weapon, and an unconventional weapon," he said. "And it is unconventional warfare that's being waged against the United States of America."

But the biggest security hole remains people, he said. "It's the insider threat, the person with the [security] badge that's the biggest threat."

Like a House of Cards

With the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein July 22, American forces have taken out the No. 2 and 3 cards of the 55 Most Wanted Iraqi fugitives.

Intelligence that led to the discovery of Saddam Hussein's sons didn't come from the latest information technology gadget or a satellite phone intercept. Instead, good old-fashioned human intelligence led to the fatal firefight.

Speaking the day after the men were killed by elements of the 101st Airborne Division, Semko received a round of applause when he said, "Yesterday was a good day for cards."

But he went on to caution that although Iraq has been, for the most part, mollified, a serious threat still exists elsewhere in the world and will continue for the foreseeable future.

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