Mobility and security share focus at FOSE

Mobility and security share focus at FOSE

Intel's Patrick Gelsinger says Moore's law is probably good for three more decades.

Since Sept. 11, agency network administrators are more willing to support users' mobile devices. And users are finding new ways to connect, in effect constructing a new, mobile e-government platform on the fly.

What's missing is security.

'Over the last six months there has been a conflict over security: How much material should be online and who should use it,' said Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski (D-Pa.), speaking at a FOSE 2002 breakfast sponsored by Adobe Systems Inc. 'We can't move as quickly as we hoped' toward full, free information access.

The FOSE trade show in Washington last month highlighted both the trends and the tensions on the wireless landscape. Vendors are toeing a thin line. They must ensure that their firewalls won't fail under yet-to-be-invented attacks while at the same time extend confidentiality far beyond agency fences with virtual private networks and wireless LANs.

One early victim is Bluetooth wireless connectivity: automatic and convenient but vulnerable to eavesdropping.

Instead, companies such as mFormation Technologies Inc. of Edison, N.J., can make mobile tools respond, through their service providers, to encrypted commands from existing enterprise network management systems.

If an mFormation user loses a wireless phone or a handheld computer running Palm OS, Microsoft Windows CE or Java, the administrator can locate and freeze it, remotely zap back its data or even fry its chip. A server license is about $40,000; each device's software agent costs $70 to $100.

Meanwhile, mainstream applications such as Adobe Acrobat Reader are becoming available for Palm OS handhelds; a beta Acrobat version is downloadable from www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/palmbeta.html.

Adobe Portable Document Format is now a core technology in the Food and Drug Administration's e-applications program.

Paperless drug approval

The form for new drug approval can run to hundreds of thousands of pages, said Greg Brolund, a computer scientist at FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in Rockville, Md. Two years ago the center started accepting paperless applications in PDF or SAS Transport'an ASCII format developed by SAS Institute Inc. of Cary, N.C. More than 5 million pages' worth of filings have now arrived electronically.

Adobe recently added Extensible Markup Language capability to its Acrobat application, and FDA's next-generation e-filing system will use XML to generate tables of contents, improve navigation and create an audit trail for reviewers, Brolund said.

FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine accepts applications for new medicines as encrypted PDF files, computer specialist Elizabeth L. Parbuoni said. Last June the veterinary center introduced a so-called smart PDF form that allows direct data import. Parbuoni and her staff are developing an XML form for mandatory annual reports of adverse drug experiences.

'We've tried to do the heavy lifting in the IT department so the reviewers can just click and point and do what they were trained to do,' Parbuoni said.

On another security front, a FOSE ES (Enterprise Solutions) panel of open-source software experts discussed the National Security Agency's secure Linux operating system.

Peter A. Loscocco, NSA's Security Enhanced Linux project leader, said the OS kernel sets up partitioned security domains with stronger authorization than the usual discretionary access controls. SE Linux consists of kernel and utility patches, downloadable from www.nsa.gov/selinux, added to commercial Linux operating systems.

Faster hardware

Building on the SE Linux platform, VMware Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., has collaborated with NSA on NetTop, a virtual-machine system that lets a user access multiple secure networks from one 32-bit system.

There's no hardware bottleneck in sight for e-government, said Patrick Gelsinger, vice president and chief technology officer of Intel Corp. In his FOSE keynote, Gelsinger said the exponential growth of chip transistor density still follows Moore's law, the 1960s prediction by Intel chairman emeritus Gordon Moore that transistor density would double every 18 to 24 months.

Gelsinger said he has 'absolute confidence' that the IT industry will continue to exploit Moore's law over the next 25 or 30 years. By 2010, the typical desktop computer will have a 30-GHz processor that performs 1 trillion instructions per second. Handheld computers will run at clock speeds of 5 GHz, faster than today's high-end systems, Gelsinger said.

The Pentium 4, Intel's current 32-bit processor, has enough design headroom to reach 10-GHz clock speeds, Gelsinger said. Intel is now delivering its second-generation 64-bit Itanium CPU, code-named McKinley, for products that will come out later this year.

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