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DISA ‘reimagining the workplace’

In the future, a combination of biometrics and behaviors associated with an individual’s mobile device will be used to determine the level of access he or she has on DOD networks, said DISA director and Joint Force Headquarters – DOD Information Networks commander Army Lt. Gen. Alan R. Lynn at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s (AFCEA) Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore today.

“We are reimagining the workplace,” said Lynn, “In the future we see the systems you carry on you carrying information for you.”

He provided the example of an individual using a cell phone to gain access to the facility he or she works in and accessing a virtualized network through a combination of biometrics (e.g., facial recognition, voice recognition, gait, retina/iris scanning) and behavioral authentication (e.g. device handling, keystroke cadences, speech patterns).

“Together, these will create an ‘identity score,’” said the general. “Your identity score will determine how much access you have to the network.”

Lynn’s keynote remarks also addressed DISA’s vision for data transmission and networking.

He said the agency is researching and testing Light Fidelity, or Li-Fi, technology – the wireless transmission of data through common household LED, or light-emitting diode, lightbulbs.

“We’re always looking for ways to maximize the use of radio frequency spectrum,” said Lynn. “The light spectrum might be able to offset some of that work.”

In addition to lighting offices, LEDs could be used to transfer nine gigabytes of data between the light and individuals’ desktops. Lynn pointed out the technology would also be transferrable to warfighters at the tip of the spear, where Li-Fi could be used in tents in the field.

The light-based frequency would not be affected by adversary attempts to jam frequencies, which would likely focus on radio frequencies, he said.   

Lynn also said software defined networking is “a big thing” and expressed the agency’s interest in collaborating with industry on it.  

The Department of Defense will save money by not buying as much hardware and using virtualized machines, said Lynn, but the main benefit is in security.

“The future that we’re looking for is a virtualized network that we can hop across,” he said. “Imagine a world where when a network is being attacked, you drop all the people on that network onto a duplicate network that’s virtualized.”

The general spoke about the grey network – which will enables encryption at the endpoint, simplifying the network design.

“The legacy infrastructure is device dependent, hardware heavy, and has multiple firewalls, multiple boundaries,” he explained. “In the future, what we see is a software defined network that kind of encrypts and decrypts and the endpoint so that it can ride essentially any network that’s available, any untrusted network.”

The grey network would be a game-changer, Lynn said, because any available method of transport could be used.

He concluded his remarks by asking the agency’s industry partners to contribute to the agency’s vision with solutions that address:

  • Software defined networking. Lynn asked for solutions that reduce the amount of time needed to spin up a virtual router or server.
  • Assured identity. Unique identity algorithms could become part of the biometric and behavioral platform library.
  • Large data analytics. Analytics that provide situational awareness and address insider threat are always in demand, said Lynn.
  • High-bandwidth light. Light and laser capable of transmitting data will be a key component of Li-Fi.

A video recording of Lynn’s remarks is available on DISA’s Facebook page.

Learn more about DISA’s participation in the AFCEA Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium by following the agency on Facebook and/or Twitter (@USDISA).

Posted June 13, 2017