DISA sets a deal aimed at providing extra cyberdefenses

The Defense Information Systems Agency has licensed Symantec Desktop Firewall 2.0 for 2 million Defense Department computers plus Norton AntiVirus 2002 for Palm OS handheld devices.

DOD already has firewall protection for its networks and servers, said Mark Bogart, chief of contracts at DISA, and the two enterprise licenses from Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., "will complete the suite."

Implementing the handheld antivirus application acknowledges a new reality for DOD, Bogart said. "There is a lot more home use, and a lot of people plug into home computers with handhelds," he said.

Unlike many PC personal firewalls, Desktop Firewall 2.0 is centrally managed. An administrator can install it remotely without relying on end users to configure and use it.

DOD "realizes that they need to protect not only the perimeter, but internal components as well," said Brian Finan, director of Symantec Federal.

Blended threats such as the Code Red and Nimda worms can exploit multiple weaknesses to enter an enterprise, which means internal security is essential to squelch an outbreak once the perimeter is breached.

There are fewer threats to handheld devices, which have not been heavily targeted so far and do not share common vulnerabilities of PC operating systems, but Bogart said AntiVirus 2002 will help future-proof DOD.

"The move toward wireless is making it more attractive to hackers," he said. "They look for the targets where they can do the most damage and get the most visibility," which in the past has meant the more numerous desktop computers.

Handheld devices are likelier to be carried by senior officials, which makes them tempting beyond their limited numbers.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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