Defense IT

Navy making faster work of software upgrades

One of the Navy’s IT accomplishments in 2014 was that it “fully eradicated” Windows XP from the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet.

That might seem a relatively small thing, but it reflects the kind of agility the Navy is aiming for under its Next Generation, or NGEN, operating and acquisition structure it transitioned to last fall.

The Navy plans to move fast on things like upgrades and patches, so that it’s not left with managing a wide mix of software versions, such as multiple versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers, said Capt. Michael Abreu, program manager of the Naval Enterprise Networks (NEN) Program Office. Abreu spoke Thursday at the Department of the Navy IT Conference in Baltimore, discussing how NEN supports the IT enterprise and the more than 700,000 users on NMCI.

One of those ways is with faster delivery of the latest software and services across the enterprise. “We’re going to roll out new operating systems and browsers at a pace where the application community is going to have to [hurry to] keep up,” he said.

New software, of course, is just one aspect of managing NMCI, which Abreu said is one of the largest and most complex networks in the world. Enhancing security and modernizing Computer Network Defense as part of a defense-in-depth approach is paramount, as is improving command and control and situational awareness across the network.

Abreu said his program office is supporting the military’s move toward the Joint Information Environment, and the deployment of the Joint Regional Security Stacks that tie the military services’ networks together while increasing security. JRSS will greatly reduce the number of access points, vulnerabilities and exploits that are available to adversaries. All new acquisitions and technology refreshes in the Navy will support JIE and JRSS, Abreu said.

Another element of security is locking down the growing number of end points, he said—while JRSS reduces the attack surface for the network, more and more mobile devices and sensors are being connected, placing a priority on the security of each device. Abreu said his office also is working on enhancing management of privileged accounts, those for network admins and other with the rights to change things of a network.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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