Pentagon ponders going mobile with CAC

Any solution in this "very complicated field" will have to reach beyond the Defense Department.

Placeholder Image for Article Template

The Defense Department is exploring ways to build on the success of the Common Access Card by extending identity management to mobile devices.

The rise of mobility in the government workplace means yet another case of policy playing catch-up with technology, and officials say they are hard at work establishing the identity management challenges inherent to the transition.

At the Defense Department, access to anything -- whether it is the gates to a facility or a computer workstation -- largely hinges on the common access card (CAC), which is tied to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. DEERS is the central database that DOD's Defense Manpower Data Center uses to manage the identities of roughly 42 million troops, civilians, contractors, dependents and retirees.

Whatever comes next in identity and access management that will allow federal users onto government networks through mobile devices also will have to be compatible with DEERS.

Speaking at a recent AFCEA event in Washington, DOD officials said they are examining possibilities in near-field communications -- the technology that allows some Android users to share data by touching phones -- as well as in derived credentials employed via options such as microSD and SIM cards that are inserted into devices. Even biometric identification is on the table to move the Pentagon away from the bulky external card readers on which CACs rely.

But any next-generation identity management solutions will have to clear policy and technology hurdles -- and not just at the Pentagon.

"The challenge there is because of the policies around federal [personal identity verification] cards, which have a whole lot of esoteric nonsense that we have to plow through," said Michael Butler, Defense Manpower Data Center deputy director for identity services, who added that he has seen successful examples. "We've worked with Google, Samsung, a number of different folks, and we're working on an NSA assessment. It's really pretty simple technically; it's really making all the standards work and getting all the standards folks to agree with it that's the hard part."

It is not just a DOD problem, though. Greg Youst, chief mobility engineer at the Defense Information Systems Agency, said that across the government, all eyes are on a yet-to-be-released document from the National Institute of Standards and Technology that will better define the use of derived certificates that use the same access-management data that is stored on a CAC, without using the card itself.

"Keep your eyes open for NIST special publication 800-157," said Youst, noting that the guidelines will help set policy for federal mobility writ large, as will forthcoming decisions from the Office of Management and Budget. Both sets of guidance will address how derived credentials will be used securely -- and, most agree, will be central to federal mobility.

"One of the requirements from OMB says that the certificate has to be separate from the device it's authenticating in," Youst said. "Here's the debate. Is a microSD separate? I can take it out and put it back in. What about a SIM chip? I can take it out, but now the phone doesn't work. There's still policy stuff that's being worked out at the federal level on how we're going to approach mobility and [public key infrastructure], and this is a very complicated field."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.