Calling Mr. Stenbit

John Stenbit, a man known not to mince words in the first place, had a few harsh comments for people carrying around all those wireless devices: Don't do it, not around him, anyway.

His comments were even more specific: Don't use them in classified areas.

Stenbit, chief information officer for the Defense Department, plans to issue a new security policy for wireless devices. And that will reinforce the existing restrictions on the use of wireless devices, including personal digital assistants and wireless phones.

"We're going to put some constraints on what kind of devices can be used, where they can be used," Stenbit said last week at a conference on wireless security sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

DOD also hopes that industry can come up with a way to detect the presence of wireless devices in secure areas and help define a security certification and accreditation process for wireless devices. (See story, Page 13.)

But just as important, he hopes that people will obey the sign on his door that forbids personnel from bringing wireless devices into his classified office.

Only you can prevent security breaches, he said.

Quarantine That Kiosk

What comes to mind when you think of "quarantine"? Perhaps the scene from "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," in which officials wear space suits to examine E.T.? Picture this, then add composer John Williams' Darth Vader theme from the "Star Wars" soundtrack. This is the mental association the Navy would like you to make.

Because the Navy Marine Corps Intranet office recently instituted a "subtle" name change, kiosked applications are now called quarantined applications.

As if "kiosks weren't bad enough," said an NMCI official.

Kiosked systems are stand-alone networks that continue to operate mission-critical legacy applications, parallel to the new EDS-owned-and- operated NMCI network. Legacy applications do not meet NMCI requirements, either because the applications cannot run in a Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 environment or they do not meet DOD and Navy security requirements.

Regardless, if an application cannot meet the NMCI requirements, it is shunted to kiosked machines.

Officials originally referred to them as such because at some sites, users had to go to a separate terminal, often centrally located, that would run that application. At other sites, such as the Naval Air Facility Washington, located at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., the kiosked machines sit next to the new PCs from Dell Computer Corp. The NMCI machines are black; the kiosked machines are the more traditional beige.

But apparently, calling them kiosks doesn't evoke the Darth Vader music. Hence, the name change. Quarantined applications — you almost feel as if you need to shower after just using one of those systems, don't you?

On the Offensive

As the threat of cyberattacks from U.S. enemies continues to increase, DOD officials are rethinking the strategy in this arena. Right now, DOD is completely reactive — responding and repulsing attacks as they come in, but not initiating any.

Now, the Pentagon is developing a policy that would enable it to go on the offensive in a cyberwarfare situation.

U.S. Space Command, the Joint Task Force-Computer Network Operations and the Defense Information Systems Agency are all working on the policy. No updates were available last week, according to a DOD spokesperson.

Sometimes, DOD policies are outdated by the time they are formally established. Here's hoping this isn't one of those times.

Intercept something? Send it to [email protected]

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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