Java interface for access card being designed

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Army is developing an open, standards-based Java Applet interface to the Common Access Card as part of the Defense Department's 2004 Rapid Acquisition Incentive'Net Centricity pilot program.

The Java Applet for Common Access Card (J-CAC) program will provide secure, encrypted communication and digital signature capabilities for any DOD application that uses a Web browser and a smart card, according to Robert Hairfield, deputy product manager for the Army's Secure-Electronic Transactions and Devices.

Hairfield spoke at the 2004 Directorates of Information Management/Army Knowledge Management conference.

Hairfield said the J-CAC architecture would be modular and extensible and that the program would integrate CAC and public-key infrastructure. The Army will finish the pilot by the second quarter of fiscal 2005.

"Applications need to integrate CAC and PKI for strong identity and authentication services," Hairfield said. "To get power to the edge, you have to get trust to the edge."

Army CIO, Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle also signed a memorandum urging Army users to add the extra layer of authentication security provided by CAC by October 2004. Currently, 90 percent of the Army has been issued the common access cards, but the percentage of users actually using the cards could be lower, officials said.

Hairfield explained that the Army had not mandated that every e-mail be digitally encrypted and signed by a certain date, nor does the department have the bandwidth or need for that to take place, he added. Still, the Army will start to ensure its users are using the cards. Eventually, users without the cards will no longer have access to DOD and Army networks.

The cards, which use the Java Card Runtime Environment and have 32K of memory, will control physical access to Defense facilities as well as logical access to military information systems. The Defense Department is expected to open a new central issuance facility this fall. The facility's mission will be to hand out cards to new military employees.

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