AF bases beef up net security

AF bases beef up net security

Through CITS program, service is installing ATM backbones at 117 sites

By Bill Murray
GCN Staff

The Air Force is laying cable to deploy fiber-optic networks and ATM backbones for bases worldwide through the Combat Information Transportation System program.

The Air Force is in a significantly better position than it was almost two years ago in information security, thanks to the Combat Information Transportation System program's deployment of firewalls at 117 bases worldwide, the CITS program manager said.

The service is spending about $150 million through the Network Management System portion of CITS, said Lt. Col. Howard Borst, CITS program manager at the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.

NMS-Base Information Protection delivery orders go through Electronic Data Systems Corp. and TRW Inc.'s Air Force Unified LAN Architecture II indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts with the Standard Systems Group at Gunter Annex'Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

The $1.3 billion CITS program, which began in 1996, is the Air Force's primary information technology infrastructure program. It also includes the $700 million Information Transport System, which provides metropolitan-area fiber-optic networks and asynchronous transfer mode backbones for bases worldwide through the Navy Voice, Video and Data contracts of GTE Government Systems Corp. of Needham Heights, Mass., and Lucent Technologies Inc. of Murray Hill, N.J.

'The biggest challenge is the customer wants the highest level of connectivity as quickly as possible,' Borst said. ESC officials want to reduce the time it takes for a site survey, design and installation of a network to 12 months from the usual 24 to 27 months, he said.

More tasks

The Air Force is also upgrading voice switching systems and cable plant management and telephone upgrades through CITs, a program which has funding through 2005, Borst said.

Through NMS-BIP, the Air Force is customizing security configurations to each base's requirements, Borst said.

Each base has its own network challenges, he said. 'This isn't like an F-22 program, when you make 100 planes [with the same specifications] and roll them out. ' The bottom line is that we are providing a substantial capability to bases worldwide in record time.'

'It's a very amazing effort,' he said of the EDS, TRW and Air Force effort. 'Obviously, you don't get to do everything you want to do on that schedule,' so the service has had to upgrade some bases' NMS-BIPS configurations since the initial deployments, he said.

The NMS-BIP deployments were accelerated during Operation Allied Force, said Ed Peek, vice president of government sales at Secure Computing Corp. of San Jose, Calif. Up to 200 Secure Sidewinder firewalls have been deployed through the program with one or two at each base, he said.

Although year 2000 readiness initiatives have 'somewhat derailed an emphasis on security' at some DOD agencies, the Air Force has always been serious about protecting its networks, Peek said.

Through NMS-BIP, the Air Force is also purchasing NetProwler, which detects hack attacks, and OmniGuard Enterprise Security Manager from Axent Technologies Inc. of Rockville, Md.

The service is also buying two products from Internet Security Systems Inc. It will use the Atlanta company's RealSecure to monitor network activity and SafeSuite to conduct analyses of security across its networks.

The Air Force deployed the Sniffer enterprise network analyzer from Network Associates Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., through NMS-BIP a year ago, Borst said.

'We haven't had any problems with it,' he said.

Built-in immunities

To protect networks better, the Air Force is looking to industry and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency for self-healing networks to withstand information warfare attacks and other advanced technology, Borst said.

Remedy Action Request System from Remedy Corp. of Mountain View, Calif., is the standardized help desk ticketing software for NMS-BIP, he said.

'We are currently deploying it as part of our Phase II implementation' of the program, he said.


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