The Department of Defense has been working to bolster its networks as the number of employees teleworking surges during the new coronavirus pandemic, senior leaders said this week.

“We’re doing what we can, by the way, on the network side to make sure we have adequate bandwidth to support telework,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said during a March 24 news conference.

In addition, Dana Deasy, the Pentagon’s top IT official, said in a statement to C4ISRNET on March 25 that “as teleworking increases, we are working diligently to advance the capability and capacity of our network posture to support the rise in demand.”

Neither official elaborated on the steps Pentagon leaders are taking.

“In this unprecedented time for our nation, DoD networks remain fully capable of supporting the mission-critical duties necessary to execute our missions,” Deasy said. “We are fully committed to maximizing the use of a telework-ready IT environment to ensure the health and welfare of our personnel given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Earlier in March, Lisa Hershman, the Pentagon’s chief management officer, said that the department had been conducting stress tests for telework opportunities.

As more staffers work from home, Pentagon officials have emphasized that every employee should have the network access they need to do their jobs but noted that department leaders have limited applications that stream streaming music and video to free up capacity for mission-critical activities.

In a list of do’s and don’ts distributed throughout the department, leaders also asked workers to avoid social networks and personal shopping on government equipment.

Meanwhile, with more employees working from home, the department’s IT leaders continue to worry about increased vulnerabilities.

"Personnel must practice strong cyber hygiene and operational security awareness while online to ensure the department networks stay secure,” said Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a DoD spokesman. “We have disseminated clear guidance that the same discipline, awareness and security measures required for on-site work must be observed by our personnel when working remotely.”

Mike Gruss served as the editor-in-chief of Sightline Media Group's stable of news outlets, which includes Army Times, Air Force Times, C4ISRNET, Defense News, Federal Times, Marine Corps, Military Times and Navy Times.

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