SPAWAR acts to secure DOD health service IT network

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command is fielding upgrades to a 2-year-old suite of network security tools for the Military Health System.

About three years ago, SPAWAR took over IT security for the Defense Department's worldwide system of more than 65 hospitals, said Michael Crowe, an MHS computer scientist.

'There generally was no network security at all at the hospitals when we came in,' he said.

DOD's Tri-Service Infrastructure Management Program Office, which operates MHS, decided to replace a contractor to bring the work in-house on a fee-for-service basis.

SPAWAR is migrating the hospitals to a single network and has installed security tools at each facility to protect connections with other DOD networks.

Each hospital has its own connection to DOD's Nonclassified IP Router Network plus a separate community-of-interest connection to medical databases hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

The security tools include the McAfee IntruShield intrusion detection system from Network Associates Technology Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., and the PacketShaper application traffic management appliance from Packeteer Inc. of Cupertino, Calif.

Encrypted NIPRnet links use virtual private networks provided by Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif.

Managing and securing the links is Proxy-SG from Blue Coat Systems Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif. The gateway appliance sits at each network connection, filtering incoming and outgoing traffic.

SPAWAR uses ProxySG mainly to filter uniform resource locators, said John Sellers, director of federal sales. The appliances are centrally managed through Blue Coat's Director console, which can set policy based on individual users, groups, time of day, location, content type or other attributes.

ProxySG also monitors peer-to-peer file sharing, video streaming and instant messaging. It has up to 300 Mbps of throughput and caches content to speed performance.

Crowe said the proxy appliance is part of a trend toward making network defense preventive rather than reactive.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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