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All Laptops, Report In!

October 2008

On Cyber Patrol Cartoon Oct 08

Now where did you put that laptop? You’d better look harder. A soon-to-be published HQDA Execution Order will direct the Army to locate, identify and categorize its information technology (IT) assets as part of an overall strategy to optimize resources and increase force protection.

At the center of this effort is the daunting task of locating every single piece of computer equipment and related hardware. This information must then be entered in a database to track, maintain and help secure our cyber assets. To put this in perspective, imagine having to locate and inventory every tool in your house—from the chain saw in the garage to the timer in the kitchen—citing location, status, who uses it, how much it costs, etc. If you have done this, your attention to detail is to be commended, but you really need to get out more.

The Army spends billions of dollars on computer equipment. This equipment is used in every aspect of Army operations from planning to logistics to intelligence to operations. Because of computers’ full integration into Army life, some might think that misplacing a laptop or two might not be a big deal. You can always requisition another. However, much of this equipment has a value well beyond its actual cost. Most of the equipment contains, transmits, controls or secures data. Data is the lifeblood of modern warfare. Having this equipment fall into enemy hands or compromised in any way creates a potential significant risk to operations and lives. That is why this task is far more important than simply making some bean counters happy because they have full spreadsheets: It is all about getting control of the Army IT Enterprise.

To collect the asset data for this huge effort, the Army will use its Information Assurance Vulnerability Management data reporting tool, the Asset & Vulnerability Tracking Resource (A&VTR). Fortunately, much of this activity is now automated. If you are connected to the LandWarNet, there are system tools such as Microsoft’s Systems Management Server that push out security patches and gather hardware information. However, some information—such as location, system point of contact and the asset’s primary purpose—cannot be automated and must be entered manually into A&VTR. There are the lucky few that don’t have automated tools, so some locations will work harder by using network scanners and A&VTR templates to gather this information.

During wartime everyone has plenty on their plate. It might seem that trying to track down that second XG3456 Network Umptidink Optimizer that might have been sent up to Battalion HQ is a huge time drain. Yet, the potential consequences of lost or compromised computer assets carry a far greater risk than misplacing a wrench. These assets are the backbone of the Army, and we need to make sure every part of it is in place.

To get a head start on this effort, as well as more information and guidance on what needs to be done and what tools can be used, visit https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/589765.

The On Cyber Patrol© cartoon and supporting articles are created and made available by the U.S. Army’s Office of Information Assurance and Compliance, NETCOM, CIO/G6. For more information on the OCP program or to submit ideas for upcoming cartoons/articles, contact oncyberpatrol@hqda.army.mil.