IT/Networks

CENTCOM looks to industry for data-centric network

WASHINGTON — U.S. Central Command needs industry’s help in designing a network infrastructure that provides improved secure information sharing with allies and partners, its top IT official said Sept. 17.

Brig. Gen. Jeth Rey, director of command and control, communications, and computer systems at CENTCOM, said his team is working to establish a data-centric architecture that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to limit access to data based only on what a user needs.

“What I have the team looking at is working in that transport agnostic, looking at a data-centric connection, and then how can we then use attributes to then release information to that person who is trying to access the data. And so that’s where data centricity is at the end of the day trying to use machine learning and AI,” Rey said at the 2020 Intelligence and National Security Summit. “That’s where we need help from industry.”

Rey compared CENTCOM’s need to the service provided by banks, where a person logs in with credentials, and then the bank reaches into its massive database, pulling out only the information specific to that person.

CENTCOM, the largest combatant command, also has data and information sharing requirements with more than 50 nations, adding another degree of difficulty in developing a secure architecture where users can only access the necessary data.

“We here at CENTCOM are going to work with partners, and we need to share our information with them,” Rey said. “We need that help in order to display from a single document with multiple security measures … but release only that information on that document to that person by their credential.”

The need Rey described is similar to an architecture developed by the U.S. intelligence community for its data access needs. That platform, known as IC GovCloud, enabled users to store data in one place and the community to implement security measures to limit personnel access to what they “need to know,” said Greg Smithberger, chief information officer at the National Security Agency and director of the agency’s Capabilities Directorate.

“We built the GovCloud from the ground up with this thought in mind so that with the data comes knowledge of where it came from and what the rules are in terms of how it needs to be handled and who has the need to know. And the systems are enforcing that need to know, so that if the humans make a mistake, there’s a safety net there,” he said during the same webinar.

“When that’s designed the right way, you can actually turn the big-data analytics loose as long as they are compliant with this environment and, they can do their thing and still serve up only what people are authorized to see.”

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