DoD makes it easier to access classified info remotely

The Defense Department is making classified connections easier for troops in remote areas.

Warfighters will be able to use a quick setup wireless command post to access classified information over Wi-Fi and LTE connections.

The rollout comes as DoD and the Defense Information Systems Agency, DoD’s IT and communications support institution, double down on the mobile connectivity of troops and civilian employees.

“We are enabling command posts to be set up very, very quickly and enabling what you would normally expect as a regular consumer,” said Charlie Kawasaki, chief technology officer for PacStar, the company in charge of the deployable wireless access system.

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The roving system is small enough to fit on a commercial plane and uses guidelines set by the National Security Agency to ensure the safety of the classified information as it’s transmitted.

Kawasaki told Federal News Radio the secure wireless command post can be thought of as a data center in a box. The system has all the cybersecurity attributes necessary to hit the on-switch and the infrastructure is up and running.

NSA’s Commercial Solutions for Classified Program was key in creating the system.

“It requires a tremendous suite of enterprise-class cybersecurity technology in order to make it work, and to just give you an example of what we are talking about, is two nested layers of [virtual private network] technology, one inside the other, which provides you with a double layer of protection that you would normally in an enterprise environment, but twice that strength,” Kawasaki said.

Previously, remote systems involved a lot of wiring to set up a command post.

“Sometimes literally hundreds and hundreds of pounds of just wiring that sometimes takes an extended period of time to set up. It’s not just internet access we are talking about here. Sometimes it’s mission-critical, warfighting information services that need to up and running in order for the command post to be able to function and defend itself and have situational awareness to make sure the command post is safe,” Kawasaki said.

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Other options were to pull internet from satellite connections, which can be slow and expensive. Giving warfighters local, in-theater Wi-Fi and LTE speed things up.

The product could open doors for classified biometric apps.

Troops in the field could wear sensors that monitor their positions, heart rates, blood pressures and any other bodily functions.

Think of futuristic movies where soldiers have glasses showing maps, the status of their peers and information on enemies.

DoD is making a big push for more mobile connectivity.

This week, DISA Executive Deputy Director Tony Montemarano said his agency is prioritizing its mobility work for the near future as it becomes more prevalent in military operations.

“We are really hitting hard on mobility. Everything we are doing, every development activity has to show a mobile side to it,” Montemarano said.

DISA is also investing in identity assurance and real-time processing, areas that are needed to create those biometric features.

“The goal is how to we empower the warfighter and I think some of the things we are doing in mobility, without a doubt, will bridge that gap. So thinking of a warfighter they can go from base camping station all the way into theater and use a tactical network and have secure identity on it, can reach back in those apps,” said John Hickey, DISA’s cyber development executive.

Alfred Rivera, DISA’s director for development and business center, agreed and added DoD needs to move internet capability to where the warfighter is working.