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CHIPS Articles: 3 Common Misperceptions about the Joint Regional Security Stacks

3 Common Misperceptions about the Joint Regional Security Stacks
By DISA News - April 27, 2016
The chief of the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Joint Information Environment Solutions Division, Air Force Col Scott Jackson, dispelled some of the common misperceptions about the agency’s Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) Program during the 2016 Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in the District of Columbia April 21.

A JRSS is a suite of equipment that performs firewall functions, intrusion detection and prevention, enterprise management, virtual routing and forwarding, and provides a host of other network security capabilities. The physical “stack” in JRSS is comprised of 20 racks of equipment which support the ingest of large sets of data, provide the platforms for processing the data, and provide the mechanisms to help analysts make sense of the data.

Jackson said one misperception about JRSS is the power of the platform.

“Some folks thought the stack was two tower computers on top of each other. When they see its about 20 racks, they understand the incredible power behind the platform,” he said.

Jackson also addressed what he considered the most common misunderstanding when it comes to JRSS: that it is a single security system offering a single point of failure.

He clarified that while JRSS is a single infrastructure, users are given the capability to define their own security processes and controls.

Jackson equated JRSS to the physical security at a bank. He said JRSS’s firewalls are like the bank’s vault doors and the software-based intrusion detection systems included in the JRSS platform are like the bank’s security cameras. Jackson explained that each organization using JRSS has their own “safe deposit box” in the form of the user’s virtual routing and forwarding (VRF) capability.

“So even if you break into JRSS, you need to break into each individual VRF to get to that particular network,” he said, adding that VRF settings are usually managed by the same people who managed an organization’s physical stacks before JRSS was implemented.

Another item Jackson clarified was the versioning of JRSS. He noted there was confusion among the user community regarding how JRSS will evolve from its current iteration, version 1.0.

“Version 1.0 was the minimum needed for the Army to do its consolidation of about 340 bases to get on JRSS [with capability that was the same or better than what previously existed],” he said.

“Version 1.5 is not a whole new thing. We are adding capability, we’re doing tech refresh, we’re swapping one capability for another to give increased ability,” explained Jackson.

Just as Version 1.0 was designed to accommodate the Army’s baseline, Version 1.5 will accommodate the baseline requirements for the Air Force. Version 2.0 is on target to meet the baseline requirements established by the Navy and Marine Corps.

Jackson expects the Army’s JRSS implementation to be completed within the next year. The Air Force’s implementation should be completed by the end of fiscal year 2017, he said, and the Navy and Marine Corps integration will begin soon after.

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