Security needs high as defense networks evolve

Military budgets are being trimmed, but when it comes to command, communications, control, computers and intelligence (C4I), there’s still an effort to improve capabilities. The challenge is to improve performance and meet requirements, such as security, while reducing overall operating costs.

While demands such as increased bandwidth and throughput are primary drivers behind most upgrades, security is also a paramount issue. Cyber warfare is growing in importance, so networks must have lots of protection.

“We’re being absolutely crushed by the need to provide more secure connections,” said Rear Adm. Jerry Burroughs, Navy program executive officer for C4I, speaking at the AFCEA West 2012 conference Jan. 25. “The amount of effort we expend to keep ahead of the attacks we see every day is incredible.”

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He said that security is paramount even as more and more users want to tap into Defense Department networks. Users at the tactical edge are increasingly asking to connect to these networks using tablets and smart phones, adding to the number of openings that foes can exploit to attack the networks.

The military is continuing to expand its capabilities even as budgets are being trimmed.

Burroughs listed a number of categories where C4I is planning to make acquisitions, explaining that the overall goal in these purchases is to do things simpler, cheaper and better.

In communications, there’s a need to increase throughput and provide dynamic connections. Those dynamic connections are becoming increasingly important as agencies strive to provide common services, giving users at the tactical edge a broad range of capabilities. That includes providing access to apps that will help users perform their missions.

He also stressed the need for cross-cutting services, which need robust modular architectures that provide network security. Those architectures are increasingly based on industry standards.

“We want to reduce variations between platforms to reduce costs,” Burroughs said.

Another change in strategy is a shift to remote computing. There’s little need for individuals or even facilities to all store files and images locally. Instead, they can use the network to find information stored in various locations.

“We’re also developing cloud processes so we can move data to the cloud when that’s appropriate,” Burroughs said.

About the Author

Terry Costlow is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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