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CHIPS Articles: Message from the DON CIO, January-March 2008

Message from the DON CIO, January-March 2008
By Robert J. Carey - January-March 2008
Being a consumer of IT on the ground in Iraq helped me to better understand what tools are used by Sailors and Marines at the tip of the spear and the importance of interoperability to access these tools. Leaders in the global war on terrorism commit the lives of young Americans based upon information carried on our networks and presented in real-time to near real-time. The open exchange inherent on the Internet is ideal for the collaborative work and information sharing among our Navy and Marine Corps, Joint, allied and coalition forces. Interoperability is key to our operations and will remain a focal point for the foreseeable future.

As important as interoperability has become, security of our systems and the information they carry is crucial to our continued success, and a major challenge for the DON is balancing access to information with appropriate security. This challenge is not necessarily about technology, but about the culture and getting people to understand and change their behavior. The technology needed to create this balance is there; we have enhanced security through the use of PK-enabled Web sites, identity management, role-based access, data-at-rest and data-in-transit encryption, and the Common Access Card (CAC) with Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificates to name a few.

At my desktop, I log on to the network every day by inserting my CAC and typing my PIN. This process, cryptographic logon, which improves network security and protects the content of e-mails, is far more secure than any password. In addition to secure logon to the network, the CAC enables access to secure Web sites and allows digitally signed e-mails and forms. To provide this same level of security for mobile users, we have begun to roll out a Bluetooth-enabled CAC reader that allows BlackBerry users to read, sign and encrypt e-mail from their BlackBerrys.

Our Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), which is the largest intranet in the world, has succeeded at providing access while greatly enhancing security for the Department. There are approximately 124 million browser transactions per day on NMCI and more than 100 million e-mail messages sent per month. Since 2005, the security inherent in NMCI has stopped over 2 million unauthorized access attempts, trapped, quarantined and disinfected more than 3,000 viruses, and stripped about 4,000 potentially hazardous e-mail attachments daily. We are seven years into the NMCI contract and it has proven to be a reliable, mature network. We are working to bolster the NMCI security architecture by deploying a suite of tools at the Network Operating Centers that will transparently provide better defense-in-depth while ensuring access to information.

The Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) will be the future DON network environment, replacing the NMCI contract, which expires in October 2010. With its focus on reliability, interoperability, adaptability and security, a primary goal of NGEN will be to ensure users have timely access to the information necessary for them to accomplish their missions and functions, with the appropriate security necessary to protect that information. NGEN is the first step in moving the Department toward what we call the Naval Networking Environment 2016 (NNE-2016). During the transformation of NGEN to NNE-2016, additional capabilities will be added (moving from a systems-centric to a service oriented architecture, where applicable) that will make our networks more robust than they are today and seamlessly integrate into the Global Information Grid.

At our workstations in the continental U.S., we have near infinite access to information and interoperability is superior, whereas the warfighter has finite access to information for decision making and interoperability is not yet at 100 percent. We hope to close this gap as we transition to NNE-2016. Our goal as we move to NGEN and reach full capability with NNE 2016 should be to allow our warfighters seamless reach-back to information wherever it exists and the interoperability to share information with our partners.

The Department has made great strides over the last few years in enhancing security while still providing access. However, we cannot rest on our laurels because interoperability will always be a requirement and threats to our networks will always be there. Looking back at NMCI, cryptographic logon, and other measures that enhance our security, it takes the effort of many people to bring these types of initiatives to fruition.

We will be working diligently to make sure we provide the resources to deliver enhanced security and access and enable the interoperability that are so important to the warfighter and those who support them.

Robert J. Carey
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