Defense issues long-awaited wireless policy

The Defense Department has released its long-awaited wireless policy, making it mandatory for all DOD personnel, contractors and even visitors entering Defense facilities to encrypt unclassified information transmitted wirelessly.

The policy, DOD 8100.2, comes nearly two years after DOD issued a Pentagon wireless policy. The new policy, which supersedes the earlier Pentagon policy, takes effect immediately. DOD officials had suggested the policy was imminent for nearly three months.

"For data, strong authentication, nonrepudiation and personal identification are required for access to DOD information systems in accordance with published DOD policy and procedures," said Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of Defense. "Identification and authentication measures shall be implemented at both the device and network level."

The directive views wireless devices, services and technologies that are integrated or connected to Defense networks as part of those networks. Data encryption, at a minimum, must be implemented end-to-end over an assured channel and must be validated against Federal Information Processing Standards requirements under the Cryptographic Module Validation Program.

The policy, released late Friday, will allow exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

The new law prohibits the use of wireless devices for storing, processing or transmitting classified information without "explicit written approval of the cognizant designated approving authority. If approved by the DAA, only assured channels employing National Security Agency-approved encryption shall be used to transmit classified information," Wolfowitz noted in the directive.

Furthermore, cellular, PC, radio frequency and infrared wireless devices are not allowed?without written approval?in areas where classified information is discussed, electronically stored, processed or transmitted.

Wolfowitz directed Defense agencies to screen for wireless devices within their organizations by using active electromagnetic sensing to detect and prevent unauthorized access of Defense systems.

Other parts of the directive require that:

  • Portable electronic devices that can connect directly to a DOD wired network not be operated wirelessly while connected.

  • Antivirus software be used on wireless systems that transmit data.

  • Defense establish a wireless knowledge management process to promote wireless expertise.

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