Data Security Reform Needed in Defense Department, Navy Official Says

By Yasmin Tadjdeh
CHARLESTON, S.C.—The Defense Department needs to be smarter about the way it protects its data, the Department of the Navy's chief information officer said Nov. 28.
"We particurally in the DoD ... tend to value our data without thinking about [the value]. We say, 'It's all valuable,' [and]  we save everything — not a smart plan," said Terry Halvorsen at the Sixth Annual C5ISR Government and Industry Partnership Summit in Charleston, S.C.
All data is not the same, Halvorsen said. Holding each piece of data at the same level of security will lead to breeches. Instead, the department should secure data at different levels, giving the most security to only the most classified pieces.
"Just like in the physical world, you cannot secure all of the data at the same level. Frankly, you can't secure all of your data — it won't happen," said Halvorsen. Data loss is unavoidable, he added.
Not only is the current system of data storage unsafe, it is also costly, Halvorsen said.
With the "fiscal cliff" looming, the Defense Department needs to save as much money as possible. Data security reform is one way to do it by putting more resources into only the most important pieces, he said.
Halvorsen called on contractors in the audience to step up their cybersecurity efforts in order to protect their data.
"I don't think it's a secret that in some areas in the commercial side you are behind in security, behind compared to what DoD has spent," Halvorsen said. "You will have to up your game."
In terms of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) technology within the cyberdomain — the conference's central theme — Halvorsen said the effects of potential budget cuts are unclear.
"There will be some impact as we try to learn where to take risks, where to put the anti-access dollars ... In some cases, we will not get it right the first time out of the gate and we will have to retweak. [But] I think we will get most of it right," said Halvorsen.
Robert S. Jack II, deputy chief information officer for the Marine Corp's Command, Control, Communications and Computers Headquarters, said that A2/AD will continue to be a top priority.
"We have to be very vigilant about bringing warfighting capabilities that can fight through the fog of a cyberconflict component to any engagement that we have," said Jack. "Mission capability and mission assurance is always going to take the predominant part of the budget to ensure that we can excercise whatever directions and orders we are given."
Halvorsen said he believes budget cuts have given the Defense Department a unique opportunity. Instead of just spending, it has now has to look closely at each program and decide what needs to go and what needs to stay.
"I do think the current economic crisis is a powerful opportunity. There were some things we needed to do more like a business," Halvorsen said. "There were places where we were spending too much money. ... This is helping us drive those [inefficiencies] out."
Photo Credit: Navy

Topics: C4ISR, Cybersecurity

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