DOD set to issue policy on WiFi use

NEWPORT, R.I.'The Defense Department will soon issue a policy to guide the use of WiFi equipment, said Ronald Jost, director of wireless technology for the Department of Defense. Jost spoke this morning at the National High Performance Computing Conference here.

In a nutshell, the new policy will mandate that no information'either classified or unclassified'will be allowed to travel unencrypted across a wireless network. But DOD will encourage use of wireless networks, as they reduce the amount of time it takes to set up and tear down LANs.

Defense currently has top-secret, local IEEE 802.11b networks running, Jost said. Offices can now procure military-grade secure equipment, so the remaining hurdles involve establishing policy, Jost said.

The policy, DOD, is finished and awaiting sign-off, Jost said. He expected it to be signed within a week.

Defense also will establish Web sites instructing offices how to set up wireless networks for both classified and unclassified use.

In addition to setting guidelines for WiFi networks, DOD is developing a policy for the use of cellular phones. Jost said the department will establish relationships with selected commercial providers who will be able to provide military personnel with cellular voice and data connections. The process will involve companies certifying their equipment as secure.

'All [cellular] data traffic will go through virtual private networks,' Jost said.

(Posted 11:42 a.m. March 31 and corrected 9:42 a.m. April 1, 2004)

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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