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Wireless Policy Coming Soon?

The Defense Department's wireless policy is just around the corner. Or is it?

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

Speaking at a telecommunications conference last month, Dawn Meyerriecks, chief technology officer at the Defense Information Systems Agency, said DOD's wireless policy is due any time. Others who are also in the know said not to count those chickens quite yet.

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

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

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

Several agencies are working on the policy, including the National Security Agency, DISA and the information assurance staff in the DOD CIO's office. Ultimate responsibility for the wireless policy, however, rests with DOD CIO John Stenbit.

So, for now, if you work in the Pentagon, put down those cell phones, drop the BlackBerries and keep standing by.

Novel View of Cyberwar

Iraq has launched a cyberattack against the United States, targeting everything from critical infrastructure networks to government systems. Authorities are hamstrung by political and legal impediments, forcing a cyber vigilante to lead a rebel force against Iraq, which makes him the target of the U.S. government as well as the terrorists.

While that scenario is fictitious, it is not nearly as farfetched as it was even a few months ago, and government readers are increasingly interested in what the author of a new novel — "No Outward Sign" — has to say.

Bill Neugent, chief engineer for cybersecurity at Mitre Corp., has recently accepted invitations to give talks on cyberterrorism at Sandia National Laboratories, the Department of Veterans Affairs and numerous conferences.

Neugent said that although his book is fictional, it examines the concept that industry, government and the public are essentially "naked in cyberspace," with privacy diminishing, identity theft increasing and financial accounts highly vulnerable.

He added that although cyberterrorism is a real threat, the general public does not share the fear felt in government and industry circles where it is better understood.

"With cyberterrorism, there's not the fear and intimidation like with the sniper.... It's not that gut-wrenching," Neugent said. "It's more hollow, like reading the business section and looking at the stock market."

As a Mitre employee, he said he shared many passages in his book with his customers — DOD and intelligence community officials — to ensure that a terrorist or rival government couldn't use anything in the novel against the United States.

"I erred on the side of caution because I didn't want to encourage the bad guys, but I did want to nudge the good guys into action," Neugent said.

And never doubt the power of the Interceptor. After a version of this story ran on our Web site Feb. 24, sales of the book jumped from an Inc. rank of 1,779,363 all the way up to 488, Neugent said.

DARPA's Cannonball Run

Burt Reynolds probably won't be there, unless he's interested in building a robotic vehicle that can speed through 300 miles of the roughest terrain imaginable between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

With or without Burt, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will pay $1 million to the winner of a race of autonomous ground vehicles between those two cities scheduled for next March.

The $1 million cash award will be granted to the team that fields the first vehicle to complete the designated route, which will include unpaved winding roads, water hazards and underpass restrictions, within a specified time limit, said DARPA Director Anthony Tether. He added that a kickoff meeting last month attracted more than 400 potential participants.

"The purpose of the challenge is to leverage American ingenuity to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technologies that can be applied to military requirements," according to the DARPA Grand Challenge Web site.

Many details of the event are still being developed, and new information will be posted to the DARPA Web site as soon as possible. n

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