Joint Chiefs official looks beyond CAC

The Pentagon should develop an authentication mechanism for its networks that does not require a Common Access Card, a senior military official said this week.

Vice Adm. Nancy Brown, who heads the Joint Staff’s Command, Control, Communications and Computer Systems Directorate, said a rules- and identity-based authentication process is needed to ensure unanticipated users can gain access to Defense Department information.

Officials often use the term unanticipated users in the context of stabilization or disaster relief operations, in which the military works side-by-side with various civilian organizations to restore order.

Brown said the Pentagon should study private-sector best practices to develop improvements to – or a replacement of – the CAC system.

“CAC is fine for what is was intended to do,” she said June 12 at the Defense Network-Centric Operations 2007 conference in Alexandria, Va. “Now what is the next generation?”

The military should put in place an authentication system that enables different levels of protection for different types of information, she said.

“An e-mail [message] I send to my husband to get milk and bread from the store doesn’t need to be protected. I don’t care who reads it,” she said.

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