Intelink managers explore data center

The administrators of a classified Internet for the U.S. intelligence community are promoting the creation of a data center that will better coordinate the information sharing and production.

The designers of Intelink originally followed the model of the Internet. But system managers have struggled as Intelink has grown to include contributions from more than 250 sources and to serve more than 60,000 users at the top-secret level and more than 250,000 users at the secret level, said Randy Marks, senior technical adviser at the Intelink Service Management Center.

Intelink is an IP-based network that does not have the ability to verify a user beyond the user's IP address, Marks said during the National Science Foundation's dg.o (DigitalGovernment.Org) 2000 workshop May 17 in Los Angeles.

Information management also is deficient because intelligence is scattered throughout the various security agencies, he said.

An Intelink data center would enable the producers of intelligence to provide data directly to the center, and it would facilitate a more secure environment for sharing intelligence data within the community, Marks said.

One stumbling block is agencies' desire to maintain ownership of their data. Sources are unwilling to share intelligence data until a system for giving the producer proper credit is implemented, he said.

"Our biggest struggle will be politics," Marks said.

The Intelink Service Management Center is trying to get funding for a prototype data center next year, Mark added. The data center would support the government's move to a public-key infrastructure, which is a mechanism in which each user has a private key that is matched with a public key to certify the user's identity.

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