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
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Network Warfare Command rescinded a moratorium on use of commercial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
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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