Go Commercial for Security, Say Defense Information Officers

November 13, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Suitability, speed of introduction and economics are among the reasons that the commercial sector may hold the key for defense cyberspace operations. Panelists at TechNet Asia-Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, cited the need to discard the traditional military specification (MILSPEC) approach for information technologies and turn to the commercial sector for solutions.

“We’re not fighting the cyber war MILSPEC. We have to adapt to commercial spec,” said Terry Halvorsen, Department of the Navy chief information officer. “The whole process today is too costly, too slow.

“We can’t afford the cyber war without getting rid of MILSPEC and going commercial,” he emphasized.

Janice C. Haith, Department of the Navy deputy chief information officer, said that the military needs industry to help to better partition and filter networks.

While panelists agreed that the commercial technology providers are the best sources of cyberspace solutions, not all areas are best left to industry. For example, Halvorsen conditioned his remarks by saying that the commercial sector is not the whole answer for securing classified data.

The panel, moderated by Defense Department Chief Information Officer Teresa Takai, acknowledged some of the challenges faced by industry in communicating solutions to the department. In particular, Maj. Gen. James T. Walton, USA, admitted that the Army has adopted a more aggressive approach with respect to department guidance for maintaining proper distance from industry and association events. He agreed with audience members that communications between the military and industry must continue to ensure effective solutions are provided.


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