NETCOM commander weighs in on security

'In the first Gulf War, commanders became networked; today, commanders are network dependent,' said Brig. Gen. Susan Lawrence, commanding general, Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command, speaking Wednesday at the 2008 LandWarNet Conference.

As such, the modern-day Army has a variety of vulnerabilities that it didn't necessarily have to deal with just a decade ago. At the top of the list is network and data security.

'We are not doing well securing our NIPRNET [Non-secure IP Router Network]," she said. "We're doing well with securing SIPRNET [Secret IP Router Network], but we do not have a robust NIPRNET system. It is a sieve. Commanders must treat the network with the same level of security that they put elsewhere.'

Lawrence visually illustrated how sometimes network security is not taken as seriously as it should be.

'What do you do to a soldier who accidentally transmits secure information? We treat that less importantly than if a solider loses his M16.'

Lawrence said that her 'number one priority is protecting the network, protecting the data.' As such, the Army, as well as the Air Force and Navy, need to develop 'horizontal capabilities' for LandWarNet, the C2 Constellation and FORCENet, respectively. Some of those horizontal functions include standards and protocols, information assurance, data strategy, netops, joint training and joint network management.

It is only by getting a handle on those things that the Army can fulfill its vision of giving a 'single information service environment to the soldier while operating in a joint environment,' said Lawrence. 'To do what we want the network must take the soldier from home station to training to operations and back, while maintaining the same identity and getting the soldier the information needed. It's never been done to this level before.'

About the Author

Barry Rosenberg is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryDefense.

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