Pentagon maps out new policies for WiFi, satellite use

The Defense Department will soon roll out a new wireless policy based largely on the 802.11i standard promulgated by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, according to the Pentagon's chief wireless communications policy leader.

'I'm sorry if some people don't like that, but that is what we're going to do,' said Ronald Jost, the principal director for wireless in the Office of the Secretary of De- fense. He spoke earlier this month at PostNewsweek Tech Media's GCN Wireless and Mobility Conference in Washington.

The department plans to rely on equipment certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, custodian of the 802.11i standard.

The modified wireless policies represent refinements in the department's existing wireless policy, known as DOD 8100.2, issued last year with Jost's help [GCN, April 25, Page 21]. He said the policy would be released in a few weeks.

To help assure security for both space and terrestrial systems, the Pentagon under the new policy will require that devices on the network comply with the standards of the National Information Assurance Partnership, a collaboration between the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Security Agency.

'That's not a big change, but it is a change that will cause certain products problems,' Jost said.

Justify exceptions

The Pentagon delegates responsibility for overseeing wireless security to Designated Approval Authorities at each post, base or facility. The DAAs will be responsible for justifying any departure from the wireless standards embedded in the pending policy upgrade, Jost said. 'We've given dates for them to assure that their networks are completely compliant.'

Jost added that most wireless security problems arise from mistakes made by people using the equipment'people who the Pentagon recognizes as part of its communications networks. As a result, security training forms an important part of the department's wireless security program
DOD also will tune communications within its massive GIG-BE worldwide network by incorporating commercial standards into both its satellite and terrestrial wireless networks, Jost said.

International commercial satellite standards will govern DOD transmissions via commercial satellites, a key communications path in the department's Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion, a 10-Gbps network.

The department plans to use satellite terminal equipment that complies with the Digital Video Broadcast Return Channel via Satellite standard published by a joint technical committee of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.

'We are going to go to the international standard for both a hub-spoke and a mesh network, it'll be DVB RCS,' Jost said. 'Those standards have already gone in, those are international standards. The bodies are going through the approval cycle right now and potential contractors are turning out terminals.'

Military users will use terminals that comply with the commercial standards in conjunction with the Pentagon's own security systems to create satellite links to both the department's Nonclassified IP Router Network and the Secret IP Router Network for sensitive data, Jost said.

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