New SharePoint Tool Facilitates Data Transfer Between Military Networks

By Valerie Insinna
Edward Snowden infamously smuggled classified information from government networks using nothing more than a USB drive.  Although such devices were banned, employing them has sometimes been necessary to share information across government networks or with partner nations. 

Metalogix — a Washington D.C.-based software company — recently released a SharePoint tool that company officials believe can help reduce military personnel’s need for removable storage devices while transferring data. The Replicator Cross Domain Edition allows users to move content safely across SIPRNet and NIPRNet — the Defense Information Systems Agency’s networks for secret and sensitive, but unclassified data, said Pat Park, the company’s regional vice president for public sector.

DISA had developed a homegrown solution for sharing content across networks, but it was cost-prohibitive because it had to be reworked whenever SharePoint was updated to a newer version, Park said. “They wanted a [commercial off-the-shelf] solution that would be maintained and kept up to date” with new software releases.

Replicator works with all SharePoint editions from 2007 to 2013, and users can customize what data can be shared, company information stated. It is integrated with DISA’s data guard — a piece of hardware that blocks secret information from reaching unclassified networks.

The new SharePoint tool would also make exchanging information with partner nations easier and efficient, said retired Maj. Gen. Steve Smith, a former chief information security officer of the Department of the Army who is a consultant for Metalogix.

Currently, “our ability to share data with them [coalition partners], particularly classified data, ... is a hugely manual process.” Because of the restrictions on using removable media devices, two people are required to move data out of SIPRNet and onto a USB drive or CD, he said. That data transfer also requires permission by the “designated approval authority,” which could be the chief information security officer or a combatant commander. If multiple partners need that information, that process must be repeated.

Replicator “enables us to do it in an automated process,” Smith said. “You can do it literally instantaneously.”

DISA is wrapping up the testing and certification process for the software, which could be finished as early as April, Park said. Because DISA already owns licenses for SharePoint, it will be able to deliver Replicator as soon as it finishes testing.

“We’ve got other customers we’re talking to right now in the Defense Department, intelligence agencies and then also in [the] civilian [sector], too,” he added.

Topics: C4ISR, Cyber, Cybersecurity

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