[ISN] CAC use nearly halves DOD network intrusions, Croom says

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Thu Jan 25 2007 - 22:29:05 PST


By Bob Brewin
Jan. 25, 2007

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Although there are 6 million probes of 
Defense Department networks a day, successful intrusions have declined 
46 percent in the past year because of a requirement that all DOD 
personnel log on to unclassified networks using Common Access Cards, Air 
Force Lt. Gen. Charles Croom, said in a speech at the AFCEA SpaceComm 
2007 conference.

DOD has battled increasingly sophisticated attacks against its networks 
in the past year, and reconnaissance and attacks still continue 24/7, 
said Croom, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency and 
commander of the Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations.

It is essential to use CACs, which electronically verify a users 
identity, to access unclassified DOD networks because 75 percent of that 
traffic also moves across the public Internet, he said. Croom all but 
ruled out use of Outlook Web Access by remote users because of its poor 
security. The softwares use in DOD will require approval from a 
three-star general, he said.

Croom added that the number of successful socially engineered e-mail 
attacks against DOD users a practice known as spear phishing has 
declined 30 percent in the past year due to increased security awareness 
training. All department employees and contractors who use DOD networks 
were required to complete spear phishing awareness training as of this 

DOD has already issued 10 million CACs to users of DOD networks, which 
include the National Guard, active and reserve forces, and contractors, 
Croom said. This accounts for 91 percent of all users on the 
unclassified networks. Use of CACs and public-key infrastructure tokens 
eliminates the need to use passwords, which Croom said is the major 
problem in protecting DOD networks.

Passwords can be harvested automatically by keyloggers or from notes 
people stick on their computers, Croom said.

When asked if the DISA and JTF-GNO plan to relax restrictions against 
the use of Outlook Web Access by Guard and reserve units, which do not 
have the infrastructure to support the use of CACs, Croom was 

DOD networks are weapons systems that must be protected to support vital 
combat and logistics missions, and Guard and reserve units need to 
access them securely, Croom said. He suggested these units develop a 
virtual private network infrastructure that can support CACs.

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