Army urged to step up IT security focus

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The security threat on DOD networks is growing substantially each day, so much so that on two separate occasions this summer, viruses infiltrated two top-secret computer systems at the Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

Army Lt. Gen. Larry J. Dodgen, the command's leader, blamed the viruses, which appeared on the Defense Department's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, on users and network administrators who were not conducting their jobs in a diligent fashion.

Dodgen added that the systems had no virus protection software - a condition he joked that made him want to "shoot" someone.

He said the incident highlights the need for the DOD to place a "greater emphasis on Defense in depth and risk management principals." Dodgen spoke at this week's 2004 Directorates of Information Management/Army Knowledge Management conference here.

"The threat is growing, it's proliferating," Dodgen said. "It's real. It's constant. We are threatened every day, thousands and thousands of times by people."

Linton Wells, acting assistant secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration, also stressed that network security is one of the biggest issues currently facing the DOD because it impacts everyone - from the back office to the warfighters on the front lines.

"The most stupid thing we could think of is to make ourselves dependent on an ubiquitous, global network that is not secure," Wells said. "We've got to have more secure operational systems."

Wells said during a recent Horizontal Fusion demonstration called Quantum Leap, enterprise security was one of four areas tested. He said the enterprise security system was based on an identity management, PKI-enabled capability.

Wells added that the DOD spends $2.2 billion a year on information assurance and is moving in the right direction with the recent unveiling of the first IA architecture to support the Global Information Grid.

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