DOD operating under IA directive

Information Assurance Support Environment Policy and Guidance

The Pentagon's most recent information assurance (IA) directive has established, for the first time, a formal framework for Defense Department information system users and warfighters to follow to protect those systems.

DOD Directive 8500.1 makes it departmentwide policy for IA requirements to be identified and included in the design, acquisition, installation, operation, upgrade and replacement of all DOD information systems.

"The guidance was developed largely in response to changing security needs brought about by the DOD's growing dependence on interconnected information systems, particularly desktop computer networks, and increased concern about the protection of unclassified but sensitive information," according to a DOD spokesperson.

The directive, which became effective Oct. 24, 2002, establishes responsibilities for numerous DOD officials, with many falling under the purview of the chief information officer, including:

* Advising the secretary of Defense on all IA activities.

* Overseeing appropriations earmarked for the DOD IA program.

* Developing and promulgating additional IA policy guidance for many related areas including protocol management, biometrics, and education and training.

* Ensuring the integration of IA initiatives with critical infrastructure protection liaisons.

Directive 8500.1 calls for all DOD components to follow the "defense-in-depth" approach to information security, which relies on proper operational procedures in conjunction with technologies, such as encryption and firewalls, to provide layered protection to all computers and networks. The guidance also addresses supporting IA infrastructures that provide capabilities, such as public-key management and incident detection and response, the DOD spokesperson said.

For IA purposes, all DOD information systems are now organized and managed in four categories: automated information system applications, enclaves (including networks), outsourced information technology-based processes and platform IT interconnections.

The directive also includes myriad other requirements including:

* Designating the secretary of the Army as the executive agent for the integration of common biometric technologies throughout DOD.

* Monitoring, reporting and evaluating IA readiness as a "distinguishable element" of mission readiness throughout DOD and validated by the DOD CIO.

* Establishing the minimum requirement for access to DOD information systems as an individual identifier and password.

* Protecting all military voice radio systems, including wireless and commercial services, must be consistent with the classification of the information being transmitted.

DOD issued a policy last September, which was signed by DOD CIO John Stenbit and Howard Becker, DOD's acting director of administration and management, regarding the use of wireless communications devices within the Pentagon, and a departmentwide policy is expected later this year.

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