DOD CIO says a range of U.S. allies have agreed to pursue a "single identity standard," and that Common Access Cards will not be that solution.
The Defense Department embraced enterprisewide identity management and authentication long before most civilian agencies did, with Common Access Cards serving as keys to both digital and physical access. So it caused quite a stir in June when DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen announced that the Pentagon was "embarking on a two-year plan to remove CAC cards from our information systems."
Halvorsen reiterated those plans at a Nov. 1 event hosted by FCW's sister publication Defense Systems.
"I've got a group of nations now who've agreed, we've got to have a single identity standard," he said, adding that those nations include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and several other NATO partners. "And we've got of have a multi-factor, agreed-upon security measure to ensure that identity."
That agreed-upon standard will not be the CAC card, Halvorsen stressed. "CAC cards aren't mobile and agile enough," he said. "And frankly, in two years they don't represent the level of security we want. So we will be doing something else."
Ideally, he said, the U.S. military and its allies will move to a system that incorporates as many as "15 factors that we would actually check for identity…and any given day, randomized, we would be using five or six of them."
Those factors would include biometrics, behavior metrics and probably some data metrics, Halvorsen said. And no one would know which factors were being authenticated for a given login; algorithms would automate the ever-changing combinations.
The department is deliberately not specifying exactly what comes after CACs, however. "Instead of doing a big spec," Halvorsen said, "we basically said, 'Listen, we want to maintain this level security without a CAC card requirement. That is the only requirement.'"
And the early results are promising. "It has been amazing the type of technology that industry brought us…stuff that we would never have thought of," Halvorsen said. "I think that is proving to us internally that this works."
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