- By Bob Brewin
- Mar 14, 1999
INFO-DOCTRINE DEFENSE. Don't worry about those 80 to 100 cyberattacks that DOD "routinely" experiences in a day: "We've got the doctrine for it." That's the curious message delivered last week by an Armed Forces News Service article on the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs' Defense Link World Wide Web site (www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar1999/n013101999_9903106.html). The article said the Pentagon "has not been caught napping" during the recent spate of cyberattacks, thanks to the release of the Joint Doctrine for Information Operations last October. Air Force Brig. Gen. Bruce Wright, deputy director of Info Ops on the Joint Staff, said the doctrine is important because it allows DOD to determine how to "shape the battle and the battlefield" prior to combat. Feel better?
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ACRONYM SOUP. Senior civilian official Art Money and the rest of his gang at ASD/C3I recently set up a new Web site (www.c3i.osd.mil) that definitely counters any probe by the outside world by festooning the opening page with a sea of acronyms that are intelligible only to those who work deep within the bowels of the Pentagon. Why do they resist plain English?
The site does have some real built-in security features, showing that the folks at ASD/C3I are thinking about potential information enemies. For example, if you click on "Y2K Database" in the information bar on the opening page, you quickly get a message denying access because your browser and server "do not share a common encryption algorithm." How well does this work in a world where hacker tool kits are as easy to get as peanuts on a Delta Airlines flight? Only Money - and the hackers - know.
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SPAWAR DISTRUST? Concern about the ability of either Spawar or the Naval Computer Telecommunications Command to manage key network tasks is buried deep within the Navy's draft Information Technology Infrastructure Architecture document released last week by CIO Dan Porter. Spawar Director Rear Adm. John Gauss wants to set up regional Information Technology Service Centers - super network operations centers that will house server and router farms as well as provide security and trouble-shooting - but not many Navy organizations seem willing to buy into the idea.
The architecture document said, "Specific feedback from the largest Naval organizations showed a widely held skepticism that any existing Naval organization could provide acceptable ITSC service on a world-class basis." Sounds like Gauss and Spawar need to do a real sales job.
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CHINA NUKE C2 AND Y2K? Now that Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre finally has reached an agreement to share missile track data with the Russians to head off Year 2000 glitches that could result in a launch by either side, I've received numerous e-mails asking if the Pentagon has any similar plans to share data with other nuclear nations, such as China. The answer is "Yes," according to one senior DOD official, but the Pentagon can't talk about it right now. Why? "The Russians are sensitive...and we have to make sure we don't diss them," this official said. New doctrine: "Don't Diss the Russians."
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MAKESHIFT MLS. Remember Multi-Level Security, the Holy Grail of DOD computing that would allow multiple levels of security - unclassified, secret and even Top Secret - on one terminal? Rear Adm. Alfred Harms, commander of Carrier Battle Group Three, operating in the Persian Gulf, recently demonstrated aboard the USS Carl Vinson for The Interceptor what he called "poor man's MLS."
Underneath Harms' cabin desk sit two computers - one connected to a classified network and the other to an unclassified network - feeding into an A/B switch. The switch has cables snaking into a monitor and a keyboard. To move from the classified to the unclassified world, all Harm has to do is flip the switch. I bet this approach didn't cost the untold millions NSA has sunk into "rich man's MLS" with few real-world results.