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Navy drops ban of commercial WLANs




Navy drops ban of commercial WLANs
Navy drops ban of commercial WLANs



http://www.fcw.com/article96931-11-28-06-Web 

By Bob Brewin
Nov. 28, 2006

The Navy dropped its more than two-year-old ban on the use of commercial 
wireless local-area network technology both afloat and ashore in a 
message that went to all commands in September but was not publicly 
distributed.

Stephen Orr, a senior consulting system engineer at Cisco Systems, said 
the WLAN policy change will help the Navy change the way it does 
business by allowing the same kind of campus or base installations that 
commercial enterprises use.
 
The Naval Sea Systems Command (Navsea) has already started installing 
WLANs on the first of a new class of replenishment ships. Fortress 
Technologies hardware and software secure the networks. The equipment 
meets requirements laid out in the message that all Navy WLANs conform 
to Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2, which requires 
encryption and authentication based on the Advanced Encryption Standard.

In a Sept. 6 message that Federal Computer Week obtained, the Naval 
Network Warfare Command rescinded a moratorium on use of commercial 
WLANs, Bluetooth devices and long-range commercial WiMax equipment.

Navy WLANs must use intrusion-detection systems that can monitor 
networks to ensure that only authorized users can gain access to Navy 
networks, according to the message.

The policy guidance also applies to commercial wireless devices, 
services, technologies, and voice and data capabilities that operate as 
part of the Navy enterprise network or as stand-alone systems, the 
message states.

The command must accredit all wireless systems, which must comply with 
wireless standards promulgated by the Defense Information Systems 
Agency, according to the message.

Shortly after the Navy lifted the WLAN moratorium, Fortress received an 
order from General Dynamics NASSCO for its FIPS 140-2 security gateways 
and software to provide security for WLANs on eight next-generation Dry 
Cargo/Ammunition Ships, said John Dow, vice president of business 
development and marketing at Fortress.

NASSCO has already started to install the networks on the first ship in 
the class, the USNS Lewis and Clark, Dow said. Michael Godwin, a Cisco 
systems engineer, said the Lewis and Clarke is equipped with the 
companys 802.11 access points, which provide 11 megabits/sec transfer 
rates in the 2.4 GHZ band. A Catalyst 4507 switch connects the access 
points, he said.

Fortress is providing the Navy with its security gateway hardware and 
software for the shipboard installation, in addition to encryption 
software that the Navy will use on bar code readers to track cargo.

The security gateway handles encryption, authentication and intrusion 
detection, Dow said, and the bar code scanner software works with a 
variety of handheld devices.

Although Cisco is providing the WLAN infrastructure, including access 
points for the first of the new replenishment ships, Dow said, Fortress 
plans to pitch its new line of WLAN hardware for the other seven ships 
in the class.


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