Pentagon to Dip its Toe Into Wireless

December 9, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
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A pilot program will aim to pave the way for widespread connectivity through the ether.

The U.S. Defense Department will be greeting Christmas this year with its first wireless network inside the Pentagon. On December 23, a test network will be switched on to help lay the groundwork for departmentwide wireless connectivity.

Terry Halvorsen, acting Defense Department chief information officer (CIO), told the Tuesday luncheon audience at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014 in Honolulu being held December 9-11, that the department was late in its adoption of wireless. Halvorsen offered that a wireless network can be tuned to meet security needs, and he credited Adm. Michael Rogers, USN, director of the National Security Agency and head of the U.S. Cyber Command, with changing the information assurance policy to enable the department to adopt wireless networking.

Halvorsen compared the department’s attitude toward wireless with its Tempest program of the 1980s. Tempest was implemented to prevent spies from collecting data from electronic emissions given out by computers and word processing activities. In reality, it would have been far too difficult for an adversary to assemble and bring to bear the expensive and bulky equipment necessary for that type of espionage.

Another pilot project soon to enter the Defense Department will be for bring your own device, or BYOD. It will begin in Halvorsen’s CIO office, although its implementation will not be immediate. He does not expect a departmentwide BYOD program within the next three years.

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