Army close to full PKI implementation

The Army is ahead of schedule in implementing the public-key infrastructure mandates of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, according to Lt. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle, the Army's CIO.

More than 70 percent of Army personnel now log on to Army networks using the common access card and a personal-identification number.

Lt. Gen. Charles E. Croom Jr., director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, set a July 31 deadline for full implementation of PKI. Croom wants DOD to use PKI to help improve the security of the services and agencies systems.

Boutelle said he was the first in the Army to get a smart card. Thereafter, the program was expanded to his G6 staff and then to the Army staff as a whole.

'We all had to learn how to get on with dial-up, Cisco VPN, Citrix, DSL and wireless cards,' he said. 'There are nuances to each.'

The transition has not been painless. Some personnel were upset that others could not read their encrypted e-mail.

'People have learned that security is not necessarily convenient,' Boutelle said. 'Once they understood we were serious, they realized they had to remember their PIN and bring their card to work.'

As for completing the implementation, Boutelle said, 'The last five percent is always the hardest.'

Peter Buxbaum is a freelance writer based on Bethesda, Md.

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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