DOD wireless policy delayed

Pentagon Area Common IT Wireless Security Policy

The Defense Department's policy on the use of wireless devices, originally due out this week, will not be available until sometime in March or April, according to Defense officials.

The policy, currently in draft form and collecting comments from those assembling it, is supposed to be more comprehensive and practical than the current policy, which affects only the use of wireless devices within the Pentagon.

DOD issued a wireless policy in October 2002, calling for development of a wireless network infrastructure across the Pentagon while prohibiting wireless access to classified systems. It required that wireless devices used within the Pentagon must incorporate technology—including authentication and encryption—for securing such communications.

The new policy is much more inclusive of the entire department, said Dawn Meyerriecks, chief technology officer for the Defense Information Systems Agency. DOD is trying to keep abreast of emerging technologies and recognizes that the proliferation of wireless devices could prove a valuable tool in the department's operations.

"A draft of the new policy is floating around now," Meyerriecks said. "We had hoped to have the policy done by the end of the month, but now we're looking at a March timeframe for its release."

Robert Lentz, director of information assurance for the Defense chief information officer's office, was less optimistic about the possibility of releasing the policy so soon.

"I'd say it's a number of weeks, at best," he said. "I still haven't seen the final draft with the comments of everyone putting the policy together."

The policy is being written by several agencies, including the National Security Agency, DISA and the information assurance staff in the DOD CIO's office. Ultimate responsibility for the policy, however, rests with DOD CIO John Stenbit.

"We still need to get the draft back with everyone's comments and then weigh the pros and cons," Lentz said. "I think it'll be longer than just a couple or few weeks."

Both Lentz and Meyerriecks agree that the new policy is more comprehensive and practical than what the Pentagon is using.

In September, the Pentagon renewed its moratorium on wireless devices until it could better identify the security holes the devices could exploit. Some wireless devices are allowed under specifically defined circumstances, but until the security can be bolstered, the department is taking a cautious stance.

"The new policy that we helped draft says basically, 'We know you're going to use these devices, so here's what you've got to do to ensure security,' " Meyerriecks said.

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