Sharing sensitive data safely and responsibly can be a difficult task in the age of hackers and insider threats. The task becomes significantly more challenging when talking about information related to national security or military operations being conducted around the globe.
Working with the Defense Information Systems Agency, developers at Metalogix have created a new replicator tool to increase the flow of pertinent information between Defense Department systems and allied networks without risk of leaking the most sensitive data.
Currently, moving data from a secret, classified level server to a shared or unclassified network requires manually copying files to a CD or jump drive and several layers of in-person authentication.
"It's a very manual, very slow process," said Pat Park, regional vice president of public sector at Metalogix. Along with the time factor, once copied the previously secure data exists on a portable format, opening up the possibility that it will be illegally taken off premises and used for unofficial purposes.
The new cross-domain replicator allows data to be transferred across segregated networks and scans the files to ensure that restricted information is not transmitted outside of its security level. If restricted data is detected, the transfer is halted and a message sent to the sender explaining the exact issue.
"This will help the combat commander with one less thing to worry about," said retired Maj. Gen. Steven Smith, Metalogix security technology advisor and former Army chief security information officer. "From an operations perspective, this just unkinked the hose."
Smith noted the importance of sharing data between branches during an operation, as well as relaying up-to-date information from troops leaving an engagement to those transitioning in.
For instance, for troops leaving an operation overseas, "the company set to replace them back in the states in on a different network," Smith said, and data has to be ported over manually under the current structure. "We're always interested in how fast we can do a transfer of responsibility. Knowing we are accurately transferring that data is huge."
DISA originally planned to develop an automated system in-house, however regular updates to SharePoint technology made annual upgrades cost prohibitive. Instead, DoD turned to the private sector for a commercial-off-the-shelf option.
Park said Metalogix is currently in meetings with the Air Force and Office of the Secretary of Defense to deploy the cross-domain replicator. He expects to see the first iterations go live in March or April.
"This is huge," Smith reiterated. "We're always looking for a reliable, automated, secure means of transferring data."
Aaron Boyd is an awarding-winning journalist currently serving as editor of Federal Times — a Washington, D.C. institution covering federal workforce and contracting for more than 50 years — and Fifth Domain — a news and information hub focused on cybersecurity and cyberwar from a civilian, military and international perspective.