DOD drafts IA buying guidelines

To prepare for using a new high-speed Global Information Grid, Defense Department officials have drafted a 2,000-page document to guide the acquisition and use of information assurance technology.

The "End-to-End Information Assurance Component of the GIG Integrated Architecture" identifies strategies for minimizing vulnerabilities of the DOD network, which is scheduled to go live in October. GIG is viewed as a linchpin of the department's vision of network-centric operations. DOD officials expect to spend $2 billion annually on products and services to secure data and systems.

The draft guidelines are classified, but Pentagon officials have provided an executive summary of the document, outlining the basic principles.

The military will start using the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion program at six to 10 sites in October. Troops and analysts will get easier and quicker access to intelligence information transmitted by a 192 gigabits/sec fiber network.

"We cannot achieve net-centricity unless we make sure everyone has trust in the accuracy of data and the availability of the network," said Robert Lentz, director of information assurance in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration and Chief Information Officer.

Commercial technology is expected to play a major role in providing that assurance, according to the guidelines.

For example, DOD officials will rely on commercial identification and authorization technologies, providing significant business opportunities to companies with proven products, Lentz said.

The use of commercial products, though, does raise questions of trust, said Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Md., that monitors computer security. "The key ingredient to success is changing the language in all DOD IT procurements to stop vendors from delivering unsafe systems," he said.

DOD officials made the draft guidelines available to military and industry personnel for review on a secure military Web site June 30. Officials will review comments submitted through September and release the first version in November, Lentz said.

The guidelines are the first of a series of security-related documents published in recent weeks.

DOD IT officials issued "Information Assurance in the Defense Acquisition System" in July, describing how to develop information assurance acquisition strategies for every aspect of their programs, from systems development to field operations, said Eustace King, chief of technologies and capabilities in the Defense-Wide Information Assurance Program in the DOD CIO's office.

Earlier this month, the department published "Ports, Protocols and Services Management," a standard policy for operating the department's 3 million computers, 100,000 local-area networks and 100 long-distance networks.

Also this month, defense IT officials issued a directive, "Information Assurance Training, Certification and Workforce Management," which requires that all users of military information systems receive initial information assurance training and take classes periodically.

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A plan of attack

As part of their strategy for the Global Information Grid, Defense Department officials have drafted guidelines for information assurance-related acquisitions, focusing on five areas:

Protecting information at all levels of the network, as it is created, used, modified, stored and destroyed.

Defending systems and networks by recognizing and responding to threats and vulnerabilities.

Synchronizing command and control operations with network operations at all command levels.

Developing new computer security technologies.

Training employees.

Source: Defense Department

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