Lentz: Content-centricity key to DOD communications

Deputy assistant Defense secretary weighs in on defending against cyberwarfare

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The Fose Conference and Exposition in Washington today featured Robert Lentz, deputy assistant Defense secretary for information and identity assurance, who spoke on challenges facing the Defense Department in the Information Age.

'The information critical to our nation is vulnerable to compromise, Lentz said, and the Pentagon 'is the number-one target' for scans and attacks. 'It's a challenge that we face every single day.'

An audience member asked whether it was possible to quantify the number of attacks on DOD that are state-sponsored versus isolated events. Lentz responded by saying that was the hard part ' there is no way to really tell. The reality is that 'hackers are still the preponderance of network issues seen day to day.'

Noting how the events of Sept. 11, 2001, altered the landscape, Lentz stated that Defense's priorities in 2008 are not much different than they were in the first few years following the attacks. However, the strategy to achieve those priorities is shifting to a 'content-centric' approach.

Lentz discussed how the 1980s was a PC-centric era, followed by network-centricity in the 1990s. Pure boundary-based protection gave way to an approach of having logically separated users. In the content-centric age, we collaborate together across a globally connected network gird devoid of the traditional boundaries on which security policy was once based. This networking environment is the 'super sweet spot,' but it is one where risks are pervasive.

Lentz advocates an overarching plan from which DOD can make key decisions on issues such as identity management. As part of that strategy, Defense is looking to certify 100,000 'green belt' cyberwarriors who will provide the front line of defense to network attacks. The 'black belts' behind them have experience in more sophisticated systems and tactics to mitigate security threats.

Lentz emphasized the people part of the strategy, stating that Defense needs a solid base of personnel to make its strategy successful. DOD estimates that 64 percent of its workforce will retire in the next 14 years, furthering the need for a formalized management strategy, architecture and training.

FOSE is run by the 1105 Government Information Group, which also owns Government Computer News.

About the Author

Dan Campbell is a freelance writer with Government Computer News and the president of Millennia Systems Inc.

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