Beefing up NIPRNET

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Defense Department information technology officials recently installed new hardware to better protect military networks.

But the new equipment cannot achieve its full capability unless DOD's IT workers install products correctly and patches more quickly, according to a Defense Information Systems Agency official.

DISA officials put in large routers from Juniper Networks Inc. at the base borders of the Unclassified but Sensitive Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNET), said Joe Boyd, chief of DISA's Center for Network Services, speaking here today at the Directorate of Information Management/Army Knowledge Management conference sponsored by AFCEA International.

The new hardware should increase NIPRNET's security, letting DOD workers do their day-to-day activities, Boyd said. But he added that improving information assurance departmentwide also requires IT workers to work more diligently.

About 62 percent of military networks' intrusions result from poor configuration practices, Boyd said. Another 24 percent comes from not installing software fixes and updates in a timely fashion — a negligence that DOD technology officials describe as unresponsiveness to information assurance vulnerability alerts, said Boyd, who oversees combat support of the Global Information Grid, the military's network of voice, video and data systems.

Officials in the Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations, the organization that oversees protection of military networks, report a gradual increase in the number of attempted intrusions during the past three years. They reported 40,076 in 2001, 43,086 in 2002, 54,488 in 2003 and 24,745 as of June, said Tim Madden, task force spokesman.

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