By Joab Jackson
Mar 23, 2009
The Object Management Group 's (OMG) working group for Command, Control,
Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) has begun investigating
the possibility of either developing or adopting a set of standardized
security tags that different service commands could use to share
information among themselves, as well as with intelligence agencies and
foreign military services.
Meeting this week at an OMG conference held in Washington, the group is
investigating whether any existing Extensible Markup Language-based
(XML) standards will work for this task, or if it should develop a new
set of tags entirely. The tags will be used by the middleware that
bridges different C4I systems.
When military data is passed from one system to another, the
classification, or sensitivity level, of the data is frequently needed
to determine how that data is processed. Without a previously
agreed-upon definition of sensitivity level, the data must be channeled
through point-to-point exchanges, which can be cumbersome to set up, or
even conveyed by hand. A set of tags, if used by all the parties in a
transaction, would provide a universal way of understanding the
sensitivity of information being transmitted. Ideally, the tags would be
used by the combat systems of multiple countries, so that allied forces
could share information.
Although the task may sound simple, data tagging sensitive information
can be a challenge, to judge from the concerns raised by members of the
workshop. For example, individual data elements by themselves may be
unclassified, such as the name of a submarine, but when combined with
other data elements, such as where that sub will be at a certain date or
time, the aggregate of that information could be highly sensitive. A set
of data tags should be able to specify the different sensitivities at
different levels of granularity, one participant suggested.
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