Paige champions Web tools

Commercial tools and technologies developed to easily tap into information on internets, intranets and the World Wide Web offer "an unprecedented way to change the way [the Defense Department does] business," according to Emmett Paige Jr., the assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence (ASD/C3I).

Paige, delivering the keynote address at last week's Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's (AFCEA) 50th annual convention and exposition, said Web technologies such as Netscape Communications Corp.'s Net-scape Navigator provide the interoperability that the Pentagon needs to manage joint forces. Web tools "appear on the right track to get us there," Paige said.

The Global Command and Control System, which has embedded Netscape into its toolset, and Intellink, an intranet serving the intelligence community, are only the beginning of the Pentagon's use of Web tools to "help us maintain the edge in knowledge-based warfare," Paige said.

Elusive Interoperability

In Paige's view, these tools are needed because, despite sizable investments in manpower and dollars, "interoperability has become more elusive with the passage of time." Paige said the services and Defense agencies must be able to exchange text files, compound documents, maps and multimedia files. To do this, the Pentagon "must achieve the concept of integrated systems."

In knowledge-based warfare, Paige added, U.S. forces on the battlefield "must be able to make decisions quicker than the enemy," and to do this, the Pentagon needs a "distributed multimedia corporate database."

Defending that database, as well as key information systems, was another key topic at the AFCEA convention, with Paige's organization taking a new approach to information security. Roger Callahan, director of the Information Assurance Directorate within the ASD/C3I office, said the name change from "security" to "assurance" reflects a desire "to include the operator in the process.... Operators need to think about how critical information security is to their mission," Callahan said.

This approach involves operators, not a separate information security organization, in key information assurance issues, Callahan said, such as maintaining the ability to deter attacks as well as developing "the knowledge to know when you are under attack."

Howard Frank, director of the information technology office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), said his agency has been working since 1995 on developing technologies in "information survivability" based on the premise "that we cannot protect everything at equal levels." This includes work on developing survivable, adaptable systems, an area "where very little research has been done."

DARPA has also started a number of projects to work on detecting systems intruders, pointing out that the hardest task is detecting the intruder who burrows in today and does nothing, instead waiting for the opportune moment to strike.

"These kinds of attacks are much harder to detect than an intruder who comes in and corrupts files," Frank said.

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